Supporting Others in Career Planning


Careers Strategy

As part of the work we undertake to further improve quality across medical and dental recruitment and selection across the UK, a careers strategy has been developed through the medical and dental recruitment and selection programme. The purpose of the careers strategy is to advise best practice and priorities for careers development within the UK medical and dental workforce. 


Careers Newsletter - A guide to tools and theory to support your trainees

The Careers newsletter has been a popular addition to the reference material developed for Career Leads and educators. If you are not already receiving the newsletter and want to be on the mailing list then please contact the careers team to be added. 


Careers Training Days

The Careers Team at HEE NW commissions a number of training days each year which are specifically for those who give careers support to trainees. These training days will introduce you to useful resources and help you to understand the career planning process. They tend to be very interactive days.

Information on the events scheduled for 2022/23 can be found here.


Career Planning Sessions - Resources to help you 

To help with teaching around careers particularly for Foundation Doctors the careers team can provide you with Power Point presentations which could help you with such a teaching session. These include Career Planning in FY1, How to apply for Specialty, Preparing for Specialty interviews. Just contact the careers team for further information and you can adapt them as you please.


Windmills Career Planning Workshops

Windmill’s is a suite of career support tools designed originally by the University of Liverpool, now an independent company.  The tools can be used at any stage of a persons’ career and provide a way to look at careers differently and identify strategies to address specific issues.

More information can be found on the Windmills website

We have a group of volunteer 'Windmills Champions' who have been trained and licensed to deliver Windmills Workshops within the area. 

We expect that they will deliver workshops to a variety of groups but hope that all FY1 Doctors will have an opportunity to attend a Windmills Workshop. Preference will be given to this group where possible. 

The Windmills Workshops are run with a trainer who facilitates the group through a process of career exploration using a selection of the Windmills tools. These can include exercises to build attendees’ understanding of their skills portfolio, how to develop it and use it to their advantage, looking at values and passions in work, work-life balance ideals, self-beliefs, working and team styles, goal setting and action planning for career.

A workshop can however benefit groups of medical professionals in transition at any stage of their career, i.e. in the process of making an important career change or decision. Thus workshops have been run for specialty doctors or trainees approaching CCT with great success.


Careers Advice Module 

The Careers Advice Module is an excellent module produced by the former London Deanery which looks at how best to support trainee doctors with their career planning - a task that has become increasingly pressing in the wake of Modernising Medical Careers (MMC). After defining some key terms, the module considers why trainee doctors need career support, and who is best placed to provide it. The module then outlines the importance of having a structured approach to career support, and in turn describes the four-stage model in some detail:

  • Self-assessment
  • Career exploration
  • Decision making
  • Plan implementation

Next, there is some basic guidance provided on how to structure an individual career support session. The module concludes with some suggestions about how best to approach the task of supporting a trainee whose career plans you believe are unrealistic.

The focus of the module is on the provision of career support to trainee doctors by their educational supervisors. However, the main points covered also apply in the undergraduate setting. This module will also then be relevant to those who provide career support to medical students.

Giving Careers Support - Some quick tips

When reviewing a trainee’s progress and competence some discussion should also take place regarding career planning. This need not be a long discussion, but should be raised for the following reasons:

Benefits to the trainee:

  • To clarify required progression points e.g. MRCS exams, particularly in light of ongoing changes in medical education and training.
  • To confirm suitability for their chosen career.
  • It gives the trainee the opportunity to express any doubts or anxieties about their progress to achieving their career aim.
  • If other issues have arisen which have not been identified or ‘flagged’ as being problematic but may adversely affect a trainee’s intended career plan, such as changes in health or personal circumstances.

Benefits to the Educational Supervisor:

  • To enable the Educational Supervisor to provide constructive and honest feedback regarding the long term career aim of the trainee.
  • To offer the trainee further specialist support, where appropriate, thus reducing the risk of a referral on the grounds of poor performance issues.
  • Trainees who believe their supervisors are genuinely interested in their career aims tend to be better motivated and higher performing.

It would be helpful to use a stucture when advising trainees about their career planning e.g.:


  • What skills and strengths have you developed since our last meeting? 
  • Which of these would you describe as your key skills and strengths? 

Career exploration:

  • How do these match the requirements of this specialty? 
  • Who have you approached to find out more about x, y, z? 
  • How is this reflected in your portfolio? 
  • What other specialties would utilise these skills? (Where a trainee is, or perhaps encouraged to, consider a change).

Decision making:

  • What is your long term career aim? 
  • What action do you need to take to achieve this? 

Plan implementation:

  • What help or support do you need to achieve this? 
  • If for whatever reason you are unable to secure your preferred specialty training post, what thoughts have you given to a ‘Plan B’? 

Please note, these are suggested discussion points and may not be appropriate in all circumstances.

Some trainees will be more organised and focused than others but they should all be encouraged to:

  • Bring their learning portfolio and their career-planning folder to all 1:1 meetings.
  • Use the learning portfolio (and any other relevant data) to enhance their understanding of how they have been progressing.
  • Specify which career-planning tasks they will carry out, and within which specified time-scale, at the end of each meeting.
  • And above all else, not to leave career planning to the last minute!


Top Tips for Educational Supervisors - Taken from Roads to Success and the Health Careers website

  • Suggest trainees take some on-line career planning exercises e.g. Sci 59.
  • Listening is key. Remember, we have two ears and one mouth - to be used in that proportion!
  • If you are concerned that the trainee is being unrealistic, focus on challenging questions rather than directive advice.
  • If necessary suggest that they talk through their career plans with a colleague. Before this meeting, provide your colleague with a brief report that outlines your concerns.
  • Know your limitations and be aware of available sources of additional support.

Use your ‘local experts’

Referral to another colleague or source of specialist support such as counselling or the HEE Careers Adviser can be highly valuable at the early stages and is less likely to result in the situation deteriorating into an issue of poor performance due to lack of motivation, interest or ability.