For Foundation Trainees

An overview of careers support available to Foundation Trainees.

Specialty Training

The Essential Guide to Specialty Applications and Interviews

All Foundation Trainees in the East Midlands have access to the VLE module "The Essential Guide to Specialty Applications and Interviews". This contains everything you need to know about specialty training - the what, when and how! This is an extended on-line version of the F2 Guide to Specialty Applications Workshop and includes sections on:

  • Where are you now? - includes a career planning audit, plus a guide to CVs, specialty application forms, selection tests and portfolios to help you better prepare your applications.
  • The Application Process - includes details of the application timeline and how to submit your applications. We also look at competition across different specialties, how numbers of posts are changing and what to expect in a specialty person specification.
  • Selection centres and interviews - this goes through the common types of selection activities you will face: Structured Interviews, Portfolio Assessment, Role Play, Clinical Scenarios, Selection Tests, Presentations, Written Assessments and Group Work. With a number of videos to show what the selection activities are like - with feedback from candidates and assessors.

To access this module just log into the VLE at http://www.vle.eastmidlandsdeanery.nhs.uk/course/view.php?id=1032 this should take you to the course page (you may need to log-in first). All East Midlands Foundation Trainees should have been enrolled into the module but if you can't access it contact the VLE helpline on heem.moodle@nhs.net and they should be able to help you.

Medical Career Videos

Videos from Doctors in a range of specialties talking about their career. Click here for the videos.

Specialty Websites

Use the following websites to help you plan and prepare for your specialty training applications.

  • Specialty Training - contains useful information on everything related to specialty training, including:
    • Competition Ratios - numbers of posts across specialties and how many applications each specialty receives.
    • Person Specifications - National person specifications outlining the essential and desirable criteria required.
    • Applicant Guidance - contains the timeline, process and other useful information about specialty recruitment.
    • Applicant Handbook - a downloadable PDF guide is also available.
  • Oriel - The website used for submitting your applications and managing your offers, including:
    • Vacancies - details of the posts available (Please note: CT1/ST1 posts will only be advertised during the recruitment windows).
    • Recruitment Leads - information and links to the organisations managing recruitment to each specialty.
    • Resource Bank - contains the Oriel user guide and other useful guides and documents.
Career Planning

Career Workshops

Your Career, Your Life, Your Direction! - a one day workshop for F1s on a range of career topics such as choosing a specialty, understanding skills and values, compiling your CV and portfolio, etc., etc. 
The Essential Guide to Specialty Applications - offered to F2s as part of Trust based teaching this half-day workshop covers the process of applying for Specialty Training, what to expect at selection centres and includes an opportunity to practice clinical scenarios and interviews. 
Informing Your Career Choices - this workshop is 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 workshops and details on how to book your place.

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. 

If you require more specialist careers guidance please complete the online self-referral link, to determine next best steps.  Careers Self-Referral Form

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.

There is an on-line extended version of 'The Essential Guide to Specialty Applications and Interviews' workshop on the VLE. This includes material from the workshop - enhanced with more information, useful documents and videos of common specialty selection activities. This is available to all Foundation Trainees in the East Midlands. To access it just log into the VLE (http://www.vle.eastmidlandsdeanery.nhs.uk/course/view.php?id=1032) and you should see it in the 'My Spaces' section).

Here are some of the common questions raised at career workshops...

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. If you are in your F1 year make sure you attend the one-day careers workshop "Your Career, Your Life, Your Direction!" - for a chance to explore these in more detail. (Click here for more details about the workshop)

Can I take a year out and defer the start date of my specialty training?
You can take a year out and choose not to apply until the next year's recruitment round. Specialties allow deferrals for statutory reasons such as maternity leave, General Practice may allow you to defer your start date for a year for other personal reasons. More information is available on the Specialty Training website.

I need some help with preparing for specialty recruitment.
F2 trainees can attend their trust-led "guide to Specialty Applications and Interviews" workshop held in September or October of their F2 year. All East Midlands Foundation Trainees have access to the VLE Module 'The Essential Guide to Specialty Applications and Interviews' - http://www.vle.eastmidlandsdeanery.nhs.uk/course/view.php?id=1032

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 the 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

What other resources can help me with my career planning? 
There are lots of resources and help available to assist with career planning; as well as this website, the VLE module and Download library you might also 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 career plans - see the one-to-one section for details.

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? 
Have a look at the Alternative Career Options section of the website, and you may also find the Informing Your Career Choices workshop useful.

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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