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Careers Support for Specialty Trainees

For Specialty Trainees

An overview of careers support available to Specialty Trainees...

Careers Support

One to One Careers Support

One-to-one careers support can cover a range of issues including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Uncertainty about the direction of their medical career or choice of specialty.
  • concerns over performance at interview or selection centre
  • Desire to reconsider career path.
  • Consideration of a career outside medicine.
  • Ill health affecting the ability to follow an initial choice of career.

If you require careers support please contact your Education Supervisor in the first instance.

Web based resources

There is a range of downloadable resources to assist you in your career development in the Download Library section of this website.

Career Planning FAQs

Here are some of the common questions raised...

What advice can you offer on how to plan/manage my career? 
There are a number of things you can do to effectively plan and manage your career. Here's an example framework offered by the Health Careers website:

  • Self Assessment - Have you considered what is important to you and what you have to offer? Thinking about what you want out of a career, what is important to you and how your skills and qualities might be useful in different specialties (or career options) is an important element of career management.
  • Exploring your options - How much do you know about the different specialties, training programmes or other options available? Have you looked at the person specifications? Thought about longer term requirements of different roles?
  • Decision Making - How are you going to use your self-assessment and research into career options to make a decision?
  • Applications and Interviews - Once you've made a decision what can you do to put your plan into action and make sure you are successful with your applications and interviews.

Don't forget this is a very quick snapshot of just some of the activities you can and should be doing to help you plan and manage your career. You'll find more information on the Health Careers Website.

How can I create an effective CV?
CVs are often needed to track your progress, are included in your application portfolios and help to market yourself at selection.  Here are some resources and links to help you create a winning CV.

  • CV Guide - there is a CV Guide in our document library
  • Graduate Prospects - a number of examples and comprehensive advice on the Prospects Website
  • BMJ Careers - browse the Non-Clinical Skills section or type CV into the search box

I want to change specialty. What should I do? 
Please see the Changing Specialty section below for information, advice and support available.

I want to change Deanery. What should I do? 
There is a structured national process in place for Inter Deanery Transfers. For further information please see the Inter Deanery Transfers section of the Specialty Training website.

I don't think I want to be a doctor but am not sure of what career options are open to me or know where to start. What should I do? 
Please see the Alternative Career Options section for information, advice and support available. You may also find the Informing Your Career Choices workshop useful.

What other resources can help me with my career planning? 
You might find these other resources useful...

  • Health Careers - the Health Careers website has a wide range of information and advice.
  • Royal Colleges - will often include career advice and information relevant to their specialty.
  • Specialty Recruitment Leads - the organisations managing recruitment to the different specialties will often have detailed advice and information
  • You may also find it beneficial to have a one-to-one discussion about your carers plans - see the one-to-one section for details.

Career Workshops

Informing Your Career Choices is a workshop for trainees who are facing difficulties in their career such as considering changing specialties, taking a career break or leaving medicine. Check the Career Workshops page for further details on the workshop and details on how to book your place.

Changing Specialty

Considering Changing Specialty

People who are considering changing specialty may be doing so for a variety of reasons,

  • "The specialty just isn't me - it doesn't fit with my values"
  • "I am on a conveyor belt and need to get off"
  • "I didn't pursue XYZ specialty because I thought I couldn't do it so I did the 'safe' specialty"
  • "I feel disenchanted/uncomfortable in my current specialty"
  • "I didn't realise which specialty I wanted to do until now"
  • "My family /friends wanted me do my current specialty"
  • "I have a health problem and need to change"
  • "I have failed my Royal College exams and am unable to progress further in my training programme"
  • "I failed to get appointed to the ST3 post I wanted after completing CT2"
  • "I have a health problem and need to change"

Of course, this is just a sample of some of the reasons, others may apply to you and your situation. Whatever your reason for changing there is information available to help and support you through the decision and process.

How to change specialty

Changing specialties will usually involve applying for a post in the specialty you wish to move into, rather than there being any "automatic transfer process" into the new specialty. The specialty training programme you are currently on, and how much training you have undertaken, will determine if any of your current training counts towards training in the new specialty. You are advised to study the person specifications carefully and seek advice from Training Programme Directors, Postgraduate Specialty Training Schools and the Royal Colleges.

Further information can be found on the following websites:

Support Available

  • Discussing your plans with colleagues, supervisors and other senior staff (both in the specialty you are considering leaving, and the one you want to switch into) will be useful. 
  • "Informing Your Career Choices" is a one-day interactive workshop for doctors considering changing specialty/career - find out more on the workshops page.
Alternative Options

Less than full-time training (LTFT)

LTFT training is training part-time for those with well-founded personal reasons, usually those with the domestic commitments of young children or dependent relatives, or those who cannot work full time for health reasons.  The part-time training, which is often 50% but may be as high as 80% of full-time with pro-rata on-call commitments, results in a proportional lengthening of training. 

There are currently many trainees in the East Midlands, across all specialties and training grades doing LTFT (a recent estimate suggested over 500).  The region supports LTFT although availability can be constrained by the ability of the employing Trusts to accommodate LTFT trainees within the service.  If after reading the relevant section on LTFT (see below), you wish to apply, please complete the web-based application or contact the relevant administrator detailed for more information.

Further information:

Foundation Trainees in the East Midlands region can access the Careers Champions initiative - this contains the details of specialty trainees who are happy to talk about their careers with junior trainees. Several of the Careers Champions are training on a less than full-time basis and will be able to talk you about their experiences of LTFT. See the list on the VLE: http://www.vle.eastmidlandsdeanery.nhs.uk/course/view.php?id=1032#section-7

Working Abroad

Arranging to work abroad is a complex process and the following points may be useful.  Make sure you visit the Working Abroad section of the Health Careers website for a more expansive discussion of the factors to be considered.

What are you considering doing?

Think carefully about what you are hoping to gain from working abroad.  Are you considering going abroad with the intention of doing clinical work, voluntary work, expanding your knowledge and experience in a particular area?  Think about what the benefits will be, both personally and professionally.

When's the 'best' time to go?

Although there is not a simple answer to this question, advice from training programmes suggest that there will be implications to be considered whichever option is chosen.

Going after F1: This may depend on your individual circumstances, e.g. whether you want to do your F2 year abroad or take time out of foundation training.

You will find further information on Time Out of Foundation Programme (TOFP) and Completing F2 Abroad in the Foundation Programme Reference Guide, available from the UK Foundation Programme Office.

Going after completing the Foundation Programme: This option ensures that you have the requisite competencies signed off to be eligible to apply for specialty training but will again depend on your individual circumstances as to whether this is right for you as an option. You will need to ensure that you are able to engage with the Specialty Recruitment procedures during your time abroad if you want to start Specialty Training immediately following your time abroad (something that is likely to involve returning to the UK for interviews, etc.)

Going during specialty training: You can get a placement abroad during your specialty training which could count towards your accredited training.  Read the Gold Guide on guidelines for "Out of programme training" (OOT).  Some doctors aim to spend time after qualification as a GP or Consultant to work abroad and this can be a useful addition to your CV and career experience overall.

Going after specialty training: You can delay applying for consultant, GP or other post-training roles and spend some time working abroad. At this stage of your career there isn't any need to seek 'permission' or to try and have it count towards your specialty training programme. However, you still need to consider the implications of taking the time out and what opportunities will be available after you return to the UK.

Give yourself enough time to plan effectively

  • There are many aspects to take into consideration; visas, indemnity, exams, registration, and immigration issues, let alone the availability of jobs to go to and practical things like accommodation. 
  • Plan well in advance - gather as much information and plan as early as you possibly can.
  • Discuss your plans with the appropriate people depending on your stage of training.
  • Make sure you are clear about the requirements and restrictions with regard to training and accreditation for both the UK and the country to which you are applying.
  • It is equally important to plan for your return to the UK. Think about how you will keep in touch whilst you are away and what you plan to do on your return.

Returning to work in the UK

  • If you intend to apply for specialty training whilst you are abroad you will need to make arrangements to return to the UK for interview.  Think about the implications of this whilst planning for your time abroad.
  • Keep your CV up to date whilst you are away.
  • Maintain a record of your experience whilst abroad e.g. logbooks, reflective journals, evidence of assessments, reports from your educational supervisors abroad. If working abroad as part of your training you may be required to send a report on your experience to the relevant Royal College / Deanery - find out before you go what is required.
  • If you are not coming back to a place on a training programme, remember the skills and experience you have acquired whilst abroad can be extremely valuable following your return to the UK and can be used as a positive discriminator for future jobs.
  • For non UK/EEA nationals it is important to carefully consider any time out of the UK as this could have a direct impact on your immigrations status and qualifying periods related to indefinite leave to remain in the UK.  You are strongly advised to seek specialist advice from the UK Visas and Immigration part of the Home Office.

There is a great deal of helpful advice on working abroad on the Health Careers website.

Foundation Trainees in the East Midlands region can access the Careers Champions initiative - this contains the details of specialty trainees who are happy to talk about their careers with junior trainees. Several of the Careers Champions have worked abroad and will be able to talk you about their experiences. See the list on the VLE: http://www.vle.eastmidlandsdeanery.nhs.uk/course/view.php?id=1032#section-7

Non-Training Posts

If you want to continue work as a doctor but don't wish to pursue specialty training, you may be able to take up a service or locum post. Service posts will usually now be advertised as "Specialty Doctor" but some trusts may still use terms such as SASG (Specialty and Associated Specialty Grade), Associate Specialist, or even Staff Grade, so you may need to vary your search terms.

Exactly what kind of post you will be able to apply for will depend on the level of experience you have in the specialty(ies) you wish to work in, so checking person specifications is essential.

Specialty Doctor posts can require 1, 2, 3 or even 4 or more years experience in the specialty. So you may find that you need to start with LAS (Locum Appointment for Service) posts at ST1 level to build up your experience.

Another option is to start a Core Training Programme but after CT2/3 choose not to apply for ST3/4 but apply for a Specialty Doctor post or LAS ST3 post at this stage instead

For more information:

Careers Outside of Medicine

If work as a doctor is not for you there are many other options outside the NHS that can offer you a satisfying and fulfilling career.  This could be related to your medical degree and the healthcare profession, or could be totally unrelated to your medical studies. 

  • The Health Careers website has information, advice and guidance around a wide range of health related career options if you want to stay in a healthcare related role.
  • The Health Careers website also has a section for doctors looking for information on alternative careers.
  • The Prospects.ac.uk website is the UK's national graduate careers website with information, advice and vacancies on a wide range of graduate level occupations. Their Careers Planner is a useful tool to help you start identify career options to investigate further.
  • Medic Footprints has information, case studies and other resources to help you consider alternative careers.
  • This quick document has some more information and suggestions

You may need help when considering alternative careers outside of medicine as it can be somewhat overwhelming and there are many issues to consider.

  • One day workshop - "Informing Your Career Choices" - which other Doctors considering alternative careers have found very useful. The workshop lets you consider some of the options and the decision process you are facing. Visit the Informing Your Career Choices workshop page for more information.
  • You might find it useful to have one-to-one careers support. See your Educational Supervisor in the first instance.
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