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Competition ratios

Clinical radiology is a very rewarding career but getting a training post is competitive.

Key statistics from 2023:

  • There were 3068 applications for 350 ST1 training posts in England, Scotland & Wales.
  • There were on average 8.77 applications to every 1 post.

Click here for more information including statistics from previous years

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Competition ratios for Clinical Radiology ST1

Clinical radiology is a very rewarding career but getting a training post is competitive

Key statistics from 2023 ST1 recruitment:

  • 3068 applications
  • 350 ST1 training posts in England, Scotland & Wales
  • 2773 took the MSRA
  • 688 candidates were interviewed
  • Applicants : Posts = 8.77:1
  • Interviews : Posts = 1.97:1

Graph showing the number of radiology applications, MSRA examinations, interviews and posts filled for each year (2012-2023)

Graph showing the number of radiology applications, MSRA examinations, interviews and posts (where available) for each year 2012-2023. Note in the 2021 recruitment round the top 55 applicants as ranked by their MSRA scores were automatically offered a training place without the need for interview.
Graph showing the number of radiology applications, MSRA examinations, interviews and posts (where available) for each year 2012-2023. Note in the 2021 recruitment round the top 55 applicants as ranked by their MSRA scores were automatically offered a training place without the need for interview.

The competition ratio refers to the number of applications per post.  This means that in 2023 there were roughly 8.77 applications for every ST1 clinical radiology training post.  This places clinical radiology with other competitive specialties with relatively high competition ratios.

Recently, the number of interview slots was set at aproximately 600.  These are offered out to the highest ranking candidates based on their MSRA score or combination of MSRA and portfolio application.

The 2021 recruitment round was different to previous years in that the top 55 applicants as ranked by their MSRA scores were automatically offered a training place without the need for interview. This lowered the number of applicants subsequently invited to interview in 2021.

Another thing to bear in mind is that there may be more posts available than the number stated on Oriel.  If you managed to reach a minimum score at interview but did not score enough to get an offer, you will be entered into clearing for any rejected offers and could still get a training place.

Why is Clinical Radiology so competitive?

Although Clnical Radiology training has been popular for a long time, applications have increased significantly in recent years. Part of this trend may be explained by the increasing attractiveness of radiology as a career given it’s global reach and relative flexiblity in terms of day-to-day work in an increasingly under-resourced NHS.

There are, however, a few other reasons for this trend and it’s important to bear the following in mind when applying and try not to let competition ratios influence your choice of specialty:

  • Multiple applications by one individual

    • These competition ratios must be seen in the context of applicants often making multiple applications to different specialties. For example, one applicant may apply for both clinical radiology and surgery, however they will only accept one of the two posts. Radiology may be seen as a ‘back-up choice’ in some cases. This has the effect of artificially increasing the competition ratio for specialties they applied to, but did not accept. This issue has probably been exacerbated now that the MSRA is used for an increasing number of specialty applications (including core surgical training from 2023). Therefore the ‘true’ competition ratio for clinical radiology in 2022 was lower than 6.18:1.
    •  
  • International medical graduate applications

    • The number of applications from international medical graduates (IMGs) has increased. Previously the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) meant that UK or EU-trained graduates would be given priority for specialty training posts. This meant that IMGs would typically struggle to obtain training posts in competitive specialties like radiology. However, in recent years, due to the difficulties retaining staff, medical practitioners have been placed on the UK Skilled Worker shortage occupations list, meaning that IMGs are temporarily exempt from the RMLT. Therefore IMGs can can apply and be assessed equally alongside UK and EU trainees, likely contributing to the increase in applications.
    •  

Application statistics from previous years

(England, Scotland and Wales)

Sumary table of the ST1 clinical radiology application numbers from previous years for England, Scotland and Wales:

YearPostsApplicationsTook
MSRA
InterviewedCompetition
ratio
2023350306827736888.77
2022361223118806996.18
20213531677TBC4914.76
202031111289775723.63
20192789677695553.48
20182829707605433.44
20172679377715543.51
20162499638235373.87
20152449177343.76
20142297946353.47
20132107546043.59
20121676935444.15

(Source: Oriel and The Royal College of Radiologists Statistical summary of previous rounds webpage)

Application statistics from previous years​

(Northern Ireland)

Summary table of the ST1 clinical radiology application numbers from previous years for Northern Ireland:

YearPostsApplicationsInterviewedLowest rank
offered post
Competition
ratio
2023TBCTBCTBCTBCTBC
202293783915th42
20215259367th51.8
20207180377th25.71
201913128409.85
201841203830
2017984459.33
20169914310.11
20158944011.75
2014958326.44

(Data summarised from NIMDTA)

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