Key updates

Here are some of the key updates that applicants and trainers should be aware of with regards to ICM national recruitment.

Important Update regarding ICM National Recruitment 2021
14 January 2021

As the current surge in the covid pandemic has left hospitals and critical care services working at full stretch, it was vital for us to review the arrangements for the National ICM recruitment process currently underway for 2021. Reviewing the planned process for this year, it is now not going to be possible for us to devise and deliver an online interview process for the following reasons:

  • The interviewers we would plan to use are all practicing Consultant Intensivists, fully committed to clinical work to meet the huge demand of the current surge; these interviewers will simply not have time to undertake the training required for this new online process for interviewing.
  • They are also unlikely to be able to commit to being available for days of interviewing in March with the current uncertainty surrounding how long the current surge will last and the associated increase in their clinical workload.
  • Finally, most of the applicants themselves will currently be working in acute specialties and may struggle to commit to an interview date and have difficulty in finding time to prepare for an interview in March.

The Faculty and the ICM National Recruitment Office have therefore taken the necessary decision to implement our plan B - that is to cancel the interview process and use the self-assessment of portfolio scoring with subsequent verification by a team of Consultant Intensivist assessors. This will provide us with a way of determining which applicants are appointable and will also enable the applicants to be ranked in order to allow them to then be matched to training posts across the United Kingdom. The switch to plan B and cancellation of the interview process also gives candidates two extra weeks in which to upload their evidence to the self-assessment portal - this is vital as our applicants are also extremely busy with clinical commitments at the moment, with many of them working on surge rotas. There will also be more time allocated for the Consultant Intensivist assessors to access the training material for the verification process and a longer window for them to carry out the verification of the self-assessment portfolio scores. The new timetable proposed for 2021 ICM Recruitment is as follows:

Although a move to plan B is not ideal, the current circumstances dictate we must do this; our specialty of Intensive Care Medicine is obviously on the frontline of the pandemic and working at full stretch. The portfolio self-assessment system we are using has been tried, tested and quality assured over the last few years, the additional remote verification process by assessors that we are implementing this year will help ensure this is a robust and fair way of delivering ICM recruitment across the United Kingdom for 2021, despite the challenges we all face.

Should you have any questions regarding this or require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact or 


New for 2021 ST3 Recruitment

Whilst there are many new processes in place for ST3 ICM recruitment 2021, which you can read about here, there is also a new addition to the person specification.

For those wishing to join the ICM programme in August 2021, you will be beginning your ST3 ICM journey against our new 2021 curriculum. The GMC have advised that for those in Internal Medicine (IM) it will be possible to apply for ST3 ICM during your second year of IM, as long as you are on track to successfully complete the year and have the suitable examinations to suit the eligibility criteria in the person specification.

This is a new addition for 2021; however, it leaves IM Trainees with an important decision to make, as not completing your 3-year IM training programme in full will have consequences on your future career plans should you ever want to go back into one of the physician specialties.

If you are sure that the single ICM CCT is the pathway for you, then applying whilst in the second year of your IM training may be something you wish to consider. However, if you have any aspirations to dual train in the future with acute medicine, respiratory medicine or renal medicine then completing the full 3 years of the IMT programme may be the best course of action.

We would encourage you to speak to your local ICM trainers to find out more about training in your region, if you have any specific queries please contact us


Anaesthetic CCT Curriculum 2020 - transition plans and how this will affect dual training with ICM 

The RCoA have just relased as FAQ on this on their website, it states:

"Trainees who accept an ICM NTN starting in August 2020, and who wish to subsequently apply to dual train with anaesthetics, will need to access ‘top-up’ posts to gain the additional training required to complete Stage 1 of the new curriculum, in order to be eligible to apply for ST4 (Stage 2) posts in anaesthetics. We expect that these posts will take the form of Out Of Programme (OOP) posts after commencement of the ICM programme.

The RCoA will continue to work with stakeholders including the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, HEE and its equivalents in the devolved nations, Postgraduate Deans, the GMC and the BMA to try to ensure that these posts offer fair terms and conditions (including pay) for those who need to access them.

We will release further information as soon as agreement has been reached around the exact nature of these ‘top-up’ posts and how they will accessed.

It is also worth noting that dual training programmes can only be developed once all of the corresponding new curricula have received GMC approval."

If you have specific questions regarding this you can contact the RCoA training team via email at

*Information updated 15 January 2020*


ICM recruitment - Self Scoring Matrix FAQs

Recruitment into ICM is a national process as recommended by HEE and allows all applicants for training in any one year to have their performance at interview ranked against their peers. The ranking is then used by LETBs/Deaneries to decide offers of places into ICM training depending on a trainee’s ranking.

Unlike all other specialties ICM is unique in accepting applicants from core and specialty training and with a variety of training backgrounds (medicine, emergency medicine and anaesthesia).  Recruitment has to take account of this multiplicity of applicant backgrounds.

Why is a self-scoring matrix used?

Many specialties use a scoring matrix in place of a formal CV to review an applicant’s progress in their career to date. A scoring matrix offers a degree of transparency in allowing applicants to identify how the marks are assigned, and enables candidates to have time to consider which relevant portfolio items to bring to the attention of the interviewers. This is particularly important when candidates come from a variety of different training backgrounds and career paths, and so may have different (but relevant) portfolio items. 

What is the self-scoring matrix used for?

In common with applications into other specialties, ICM asks trainees to self-score their portfolios.

This self-score is used in two ways:

  1. If more people apply for interview training than there are ICM interview slots, the self-score is used to invite the highest scoring applicants for interview (shortlisting). This process is also used for applications for entry into other specialty training. In 2017 there were sufficient ICM interview slots for all applicants so shortlisting was not done. 
  2. At interview candidates are asked to demonstrate evidence from their portfolio to verify the self-score.  The interviewers confirm that evidence and assign a final score. The scoring matrix (which candidates use for the self-scoring in advance of attending the interview) is a guide to allow applicants to judge how many marks to award themselves for a section and also to remind candidates as to which items of their portfolio to bring to interview, to maximize their marks in this station.

How important is the scoring matrix?

There are 5 stations used in national selection. Each station is equally weighted and assigned a total of 80 marks. Four stations (clinical scenario, task prioritisation, presentation and portfolio) involve face to face interaction with interviewers and one is a written station (reflection).

Of the 80 marks assigned to the portfolio station,  54 are assigned for the actual portfolio score, while 26 are assigned for answers to questions based on generic professional skills e.g. teamwork, with evidence from the portfolio to confirm this. The remaining marks (320 in total) are assigned based on the rest of the interview process. ICM is an acute clinical speciality, and the vast majority of marks at interview are assigned for candidates who demonstrate skills at the interview that are important for future intensivists, including an ability to manage their life outside of work. 

Candidates who are in the early stages of their training are still able to score as highly as those in the later stages of training (and regularly do), irrespective of their training background and so have the chance of being offered training in the region of their choice.  

Why score life activities outside of work?

ICM values applicants from all backgrounds and experiences: the specialty recognises that skills outside of formal training may be transferrable and of considerable benefit to ICM.  Previous candidates have decided to devote time to outside activities in preference to academic research e.g. playing international sport or achieving a high level skill (at international level) in preference to doing a PhD. The matrix includes the ability for interviewers to recognise that decision as valid for the individual and worthy of credit. In addition interviewers have the ability to award extra marks at interview to candidates who have significant caring responsibilities outside of work for the same reasons.  There are 10 independent domains within the portfolio score (activities outside of work being one), so each domain represents a very small proportion of the total marks available.  


Recruitment Upper Limit for 2016

For previous recruitment rounds there was no upper limit on when a trainee could enter a second specialty within training. This changed in 2016. 

From the 2016 recruitment round onwards (interviews are held in spring), trainees will not be able to apply for Dual CCTs if they are beyond the end of ST5 in their initial specialty of appointment at the time of interview for ICM. 

The August 2015 intake was therefore the last opportunity for trainees above ST5 in a partner specialty to apply for a Dual CCTs programme with ICM. 

Please see the Winter 2015 issue of Critical Eye for an article discussing the upper limit (pg.21).


GMC and the '18 Month Rule'

After FICM lobbying, the GMC have ended the 18 month rule for dual training.  See the FAQ page for more information.  The rule is effective retrospectively.  Trainees who are beyond 18 months and apply for a second specialty will be awarded a CCT in both specialties, although the recruitment upper limit (ST5) should still be adhered to.