Choosing which career path to follow needs a great deal of thought. Your interests have to be aligned with your aptitude and strengths, as well as a realistic assessment of what your chances are against the competition. There are many resources available that can help you make career decisions.
You are your best resource. Think about your own strengths, interests and aptitudes. Getting good career advice is not just about being spoon-fed information, it’s about taking a critical and constructive look at yourself.
The UKFPO's leaflet 'Planning Your Medical Career: A Practical Guide' introduces a four stage process to planning your career which begins with self-assessment.
You should also bear in mind that competition in some specialties is immense. You need to think about the supply and demand of doctors for the career opportunities in front of you. For years, too many doctors have wanted careers in specialties such as general medicine, general surgery and obstetrics and gynaecology, and not enough have chosen careers in specialties like radiology, geriatrics and psychiatry.
During your Foundation Programme training you might like to:
- set up your own informal discussion groups about career progression
- use your learning portfolio as a tool to reflect on career development
- apply for taster experiences in specialties that you have not had a chance to experience in F1 or in F2 as full placements
NHS Medical Careers
The NHS Medical Careers website, https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/ supports medical students and doctors in training as they plan their specialty careers.
It is designed to provide a structured, organised way to think about choosing a specialty and uses a four-stage approach to career planning: Understanding Yourself, Exploring Options, Choosing a Specialty and Getting into Training. It combines interactive tools and some of the most in-depth information around all specialties in one place, for the first time.
Rough Guide to the Foundation Programme
This comprehensive guide to the first two years of working in the health service includes an excellent chapter on career planning covering advice on how to plan your career, tasters, study leave, applying for speciality training and where to go for further advice. It's available as a
Trent Foundation School has recently developed a new resource to aid trainees with young families. Trent trainees with children talk about their own experiences, and provide tips and tricks on how to how to successfully balance the competing demands of foundation training with raising a young family. Click here to download Foundation Families.
The following are presentations from recent UKFPO events which contain a range of useful information and messages relating to career planning.
Deanery/foundation school career advisors
Each deanery or foundation school will have career advisors who will offer personal and general career advice. Click here for a list of of careers advisors and clinicians with responsibility for careers advice in medical schools and postrgraduate deaneries.
Clinical and educational supervisors
During the Foundation Programme, you will be working with a number of different doctors in a range of specialties. They will be able to give specialty-specific advice. Even if your supervisors are unable to answer all of your questions, they will be able to help you reflect on your strengths and weaknesses as you seek to determine which career options best match your emerging skills, aptitudes and attitudes.
Career planning tools
Some deaneries are evaluating career planning tools like Sci59 or Myers Briggs which help you understand yourself better and can point you in the direction of a career that might suit you. These tools are seldom the ‘answer’ to planning a career in medicine but may be a useful place to start a discussion with peers, a supervisor or career advisor. There are also a number of online resources available including a BMJ Learning module entitled 'Career Essentials - maximising your portfolio' which is aimed at Foundation doctors and their supervisors.
Competition ratios are published on the Specialty Training website which will give you an insight into which specialties received the most applications per vacancy in the last specialty recruitment round.
Specialty Tasters in the Foundation Programme: Guidance for Foundation Schools
Published March 2011
The UKFPO has updated its previously-published guidance aimed at supporting the development of high-quality tasters in each locality of every foundation school. A taster is a period of time, usually 2-5 days, spent in a speciality in which the Foundation trainee has not previously worked. It is intended to enable the development of insight into the work of the speciality and to promote careers reflection. There are already many examples of good practice in this area and this document aims to support all Foundation Programmes in developing career exploration for their trainees.