Lots of candidates get very stressed over competition ratios. Whilst important to gauge the popularity of a speciality, it shouldn’t be something to put you off. See them as motivation to build an amazing portfolio and show commitment to the speciality!
Below is a table showing the total number of applicants each year going back to 2016 (when the MSRA was introduced), alongside how many got through to each subsequent part of the application process. This will be kept up to date as new figures are released, but you can find more information on the Health Education website, and a more detailed breakdown (but generally a bit less up-to-date) on the RCR website.
As you can see, every year since 2021 there has been a large increase in applications and not a proportionate increase in the number of posts available. This year in particular, there has been another massive jump in the number of applicants applying and not many more are being interviewed compared to 2022. On top of the multitude of reasons why radiology itself is very appealing, there are a few extra theories for the more recent increase in competition:
Despite all this, it’s important to remember that the interview-to-appointment ratio is much lower than the application-to-appointment ratio. This is because of the stepwise process of the application: not everyone who applies to radiology sits the MSRA, not everyone who sits the MSRA scores highly enough to qualify for an interview, and not everyone invited to interview turns up. If you are committed and do well enough at the MSRA to score yourself an interview, you have a pretty good chance of getting a job (last year the ratio of those getting interviewed and getting a job was essentially 2:1, which sounds much better than the ratio of those applying to those getting a job at 9:1). There is also talk about increasing training numbers further over the coming years. There is a huge shortage in the number of consultant radiologists, and as we become more reliant on imaging, this is likely to worsen. Health Education England (HEE) is believed to be funding additional posts each year, but the exact numbers are yet to be confirmed. Unfortunately, the shortage of radiology consultants massively limits the capacity for training posts, and therefore a balance needs to be struck between the numbers trained and the quality of training. One potential way around this is increasing the use of 'radiology academies' compared to the traditional, hospital-based training programmes, and so we might see an expansion in this model of training in the future.
References: - Health Education England | Medical Education Hub. (n.d.). 2022 Competition ratios | Health Education England. [online] Available at: https://medical.hee.nhs.uk/medical-training-recruitment/medical-specialty-training/competition-ratios/2022-competition-ratios [Accessed 15 Nov. 2022]. - www.rcr.ac.uk. (n.d.). Statistical summary of previous rounds | The Royal College of Radiologists. [online] Available at: https://www.rcr.ac.uk/clinical-radiology/careers-and-recruitment/specialty-recruitment/statistical-summary-previous-rounds [Accessed 15 Nov. 2022]. - Health Education England (2020) ‘Medical Specialty Recruitment Handbook’. Available at: https://www.nwpgmd.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/Medical%20Specialty%20Recruitment%20Handbook%202020%20V%201.0_0.pdf