Applicants applying to Academic Clinical Fellowships (ACFs) will need to meet the criteria in both the clinical and ACF person specifications.

This means that, unless they currently hold a National Training Number (NTN) or Deanery Reference Number (DRN) which required clinical interview in the GMC specialty associated with the ACF, at the same level of training, they will be required to attend the PHST clinical interview for the specialty of their ACF.  

This page has some summary guidance about how this will affect those applying to be clinically benchmarked during the process. The MDRS applicant guidance and National Institute of Health Research website has more information for those interested in ACF programmes.


The application form for those applying to be clinically benchmarked is exactly the same as for all other candidates. The main thing to note is that there is a section on the application form which ACF applicants need to complete. You will be asked whether you wish to be considered for:

  • ACF programmes only, or
  • ACF and clinical programmes.

It is important to  understand the implications of your response to this question as changes will not be permitted after submission of the application.

Those answering that they are only applying to be considered for ACF programmes may be withdrawn from the process once the interview has been completed and the benchmarking result confirmed. This would mean they cannot be considered for a clinical training programme, regardless of performance at interview.

Programme preferences

Prior to offers all candidates still in contention will be invited to preference the programmes for which they wish to be considered for offers. How those applying to be clinically benchmarked should respond will depend on whether or not they are in contention for clinical programmes:

  • ACF only - there is no need to take any action when invited to preference programmes. This process has no bearing on your ACF application and any ACF offer you may have been made. 
  • ACF and clinical - if you are still interested in clinical programmes you will need to preference your programmes as any other candidate. The programme preferences section of this website has guidance on this part of the process.

After the interview

Once the interview has been completed and scores confirmed, your ACF appointing region will be notified of the outcome so they can confirm any offer made; this is the case whether you are in competition for ACF programmes only, or also clinical programmes.

  • ACF only - once your scores are confirmed and ACF region notified, you may be withdrawn from the process at this stage and your clinical application proceed no further.
  • ACF and clinical - your application will not be withdrawn and you will be considered when offers are run. If you have decided you are happy with your ACF programme, you should withdraw your clinical application to enable offers to proceed as quickly as possible.


It is possible to accept a clinical process offer, whilst having already accepted an ACF programme offer. You should only do this if you have changed your mind about taking up the ACF programme and wish to take up a clinical programme instead. You must contact your ACF appointing region as quickly as possible if this is the case as you will be leaving the programme unfilled. 


Regardless of whether you are applying for ACF only, or ACF and clinical, you will receive feedback regarding your interview scores and interviewer comments at the end of the round when all other candidates do. There is no need to stay in the process because you wish to receive feedback as it will be made available regardless of your status.