Foundation Trainee

You have important decisions to make before the end of your first F2 triplet post and again in the second post, when offers of specialty posts come in. Your Foundation years will go by very quickly; it is never too early to begin to research the careers options and choices open to you.

Download and view the two leaflets below, that signpost available resources and give you a suggested timeline for starting to plan your career in Foundation.

Useful information on support and resources for career planning during Foundation

Suggested timeline for career planning in Foundation

Please listen to the voice-over presentation that will describe the Careers Support available to you during your Foundation programme in the North West of England Foundation School. 

Downloadable Leaflet on Careers Support in Foundation at North West England Foundation School

Some timelines to bear in mind include:

  • Applications for specialty and GP generally need to be made in December of your F2 year
  • Interviews and decisions around offers of training places usually need to be completed towards the end of March during your F2 year
  • Deferring a training place is rare! Very few specialties will agree to defer a training place and where they do agree, this is usually under very exceptional circumstances
  • If you are considering taking some time out of training, such as locum work or  working abroad, plan carefully ,ensure your time is well spent and don’t forget to build in time to return to the UK to attend interviews and assessment centres
  • Have a backup plan!

Key questions when considering your next step after Foundation include:

  • Do I have the aptitudes and interest for this specialty?
  • Does my personality and preferred style of working fit with the requirements of this specialty?
  • Will the specialty enable me to have the balance I want between my work and home life?
  • If I take some time out of training, what do I do, when and what impact will this have on my career?
  • Competition ratios and opportunities for progression - how do these relate to my geographical preference?
  • Do I know what I want to do?


There are a wide range of resources available to help you to reach a decision about your next step.

Don’t bury your head in the sand!


During your Foundation Programme you will have specific teaching sessions which will be geared towards helping you in your career planning. These will take place during FY1 and FY2


Want to get involved in developing careers support for yourself and your colleagues?

The North West of England Foundation School have a foundation careers group which meet face to face once a year but collaborate on projects year round using an online discussion forum hosted on the HENW virtual learning platform. For more information email:

Taking a Year Out

50% of Foundation Trainees take 1-3 years out before entering a training programme; please click here to find out how you can make the most of it and avoid the common pitfalls.

Useful Resources and Links

Downloadable Leaflet Developing your Career Management Skills during Foundation

Downloadable leaflets


Heath Careers this website has a wealth of careers information for junior doctors to help them with their career planning and decision making

Making the most of Foundation video

Career Planning - Making the most of Foundation Training - some case studies

Making the most of the Foundation Programme –BMJ article

Ways to Choose your Specialty article on ‘Support for doctor’s website’

Specialty Training – information on applying to specialties, including competition statistics, person specifications etc.

BMJ Careers lots of useful articles on careers related topics


Useful books

Elton, Caroline and Reid, Joan (2010 third edition) ‘The roads to success: A practical approach to career management for medical students, junior doctors (and their supervisors) ’. view it here

Freeman, Brian (2007) ‘The ultimate guide to choosing a medical specialty’ McGraw-Hill Medical: New York.

Ward, Christopher and Eccles, Simon (2008) ‘So you want to be a brain surgeon? A medical careers guide