Foundation Trainee


You have important decisions to make before the end of your first FY2 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.

The leaflets below signpost available resources and give you a suggested timeline for starting to plan your career 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. 


Some timelines to bear in mind include:

  • Applications for specialty and GP training generally need to be made in December of your FY2 year.
  • Interviews and decisions around offers of training places usually need to be completed towards the end of March during your FY2 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 and collaborate on projects year round using an online discussion forum hosted on the HEE NW 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; click here to find out how you can make the most of it and avoid the common pitfalls.


Useful Resources and Links

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

Video: Making the most of Foundation 

Cae Studies: Career Planning - Making the most of Foundation Training

BMJ Article: Making the most of the Foundation Programme 

Article from the Support for Doctors website: Ways to Choose your Specialty 

The Specialty Training website has information on applying to specialties, including competition statistics and person specifications etc.

BMJ Careers has 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)’

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