Careers Information for Foundation Doctors
“I haven’t got time!”
If you were dealing with a patient presenting with complex issues, you would invest time and effort to understand the nature of the complaint and figure out the best course of action. You know how important it is to get it right for that patient, so why not invest time and energy into getting it right for your own career management? The end result will be of benefit both to yourself and ultimately to your patients.
It is never too early to begin to research the options and choices open to you.
Key questions when considering your next step after Foundation training include:
When considering specialty choice:
- Do I have the appropriate aptitudes, personality and preferred style of working?
- Does the specialty fit with my own ethics and inner values?
- Will the specialty enable me to have the balance I want between my work and home life?
There are no easy answers to these questions, but help is available from:
- Self-assessment tools such as those on the National Medical Careers website.
- Books such as ‘So you want to be a brain surgeon?’ for quick summaries.
- The Careers Planning Support service.
Competition ratios and opportunities for progression - how do these relate to my geographical preference?
This information is available on the Specialty Training website. You can also break the information down further by specialty, location and level.
Taking some time out of training - what, when and what effect will that have on my career?
There is no ‘best’ time to take time out; this really does depend upon your personal circumstances and preferences. Taking time out to gain further clinical experience, whether in the UK or abroad, will not have an adverse effect on your applications to specialty training but in view of the current financial restraints, which will have an impact on the number of training places, you should factor this in and ensure your experience is relevant and adds value to your CV.
If you are considering taking time out of training, it is wise to discuss this with your Educational Supervisor, Foundation Programme Director or careers advisors before making a final decision.
Dr Natalie Freeman, one of our former F2s, has written a guide for foundation doctors planning to take a year out in Australia following F2:
How soon do I need to make my decision?
In effect, you have 15 months from graduation to make your decision. Applications for specialty and GP training open in late November of your F2 year.
Use your F1 time to speak with other doctors in training and Educational Supervisors about their roles, read around different specialties and attend careers information events. These are usually published on both the College and Deanery websites. Plan your Tasters early.
Once you have made your choice it would be sensible to have a Plan B. This does not indicate a lack of commitment; it does indicate a methodical and pragmatic approach.
- The UK Foundation Programme Office has produced careers guidance on their website
- The Career Planning Support webpages for further information and sources of help.
- The Deanery's Postgraduate (Specialty) Schools websites.
- The National Medical Careers website. This free resource has a suite of career planning tools, a list of over 60 specialties with detailed information about each one and a Medical Careers Events Calendar.