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This section of the website is devoted to live Q&A sessions with our own advisers or external employers. We will promote the Live Q&A’s in advance and you can also access session archives below.

Medical School Students

Welcome to all of our Lincoln Medical School students.   

The University of Lincoln Careers & Employability Service recognise that you are likely to have some questions when it comes to planning your career in medicine as you navigate the various training routes, specialties and of course look to enhance your CV as much as possible throughout your time at university. You might also find that from time to time you have questions about niche areas such as working abroad, or what your alternative career options might be.   

These pages have been designed to help you gather information and advice about your pathways and options and provide you with links to a variety of resources, which we hope will be useful.

You can see what careers other graduates who studied your degree entered by reading the Prospects ‘What Do Graduates Do?’ guide:

What Do Graduates Do?

Career Planning- what, why and how?

You may think that having decided to study medicine your career is mapped out for you. To some extent it is – there is a very structured training pathway and a fixed number of specialties as a doctor.  But, add to the mix sub-specialties, choosing where to train and competition for places, or making decisions such as whether to take a career break, undertake some form of academic training, or work part-time, and the picture is very different. And from time to time, you may even question if a career in medicine is for you.

This is where career planning can help. Having a plan of what or where you’re heading for and goals to work towards can help keep you motivated, feel more ‘in control’ of your future and may ultimately make you more successful in achieving your future career ambitions, whatever they may be. Making important decisions about your career is a key part of career planning.

Sometimes, you might need help with your decision-making, or an impartial view from an outsider on your thoughts and plans. This is where career guidance can help, and you can book a 1:1 impartial, confidential appointment with your Careers Adviser on our Appointment Booking Tool, via the button below. Appointment Booking Tool

Why engage with career planning now?

Everybody’s idea of the ‘perfect career’ is different and we all have different wants and needs from our future career. Some may be motivated by salary, others by opportunities for development and promotion, and some by working environment, location and values.

Having a career plan, engaging with your development and knowing how to respond to opportunities and make well informed decisions as and when they arise, may make you more successful in achieving your future career ambitions, whatever they may be.

Starting early with career planning will help you to make the most of your time at university to develop your skills and strengths alongside your studies, and allow you to engage with the range of opportunities available to you.

Additionally, your career plans are likely to change throughout your life and career journey, for example you may wish to change roles, relocate or have a family, which could all have implications on your work. Being well practiced in the art of career planning can help make this process easier when the time comes, so it makes sense to start now whilst you have the support of the university and the Careers & Employability Team.

How do I get started with career planning?

Career planning is a structured process for analysing your skills and interests, researching options, formulating goals and devising strategies to achieve them. You’ll need to ask yourself:

  • What are your talents and passions?
  • Which career pathways and specialties are most likely to satisfy your interests?
  • How can you turn your career plan into a job offer which aligns with your planned career aspirations?

The Four Stages of Career Planning:

1. Develop your self-awareness – what matters to you and what do you have to offer?
What is Self Awareness?
Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives and desires.
Although not one of the easiest tasks, the process of identifying your strengths and weaknesses helps you to understand yourself better and identify your career needs. Whilst undertaking volunteering, paid work experience or your course modules, keep a reflective journal on how you felt taking part in different activities within the role. This can take time but will help you discover what you like, what you don’t like and identify your strengths and weaknesses
Things to Think About…

a) Likes and Dislikes:
What do you enjoy doing? What would motivate you to go to work? What would make a job unbearable for you to do day after day? Think about everything from your favourite activities to how you like to interact with people.

b) Strengths and Weaknesses:
What skills do you particularly excel in? Do people often comment on how organised or disorganised you are? If you identify weaknesses, it’s worth thinking about what you could do to improve or make up for them – this will help you answer questions about your weaknesses in interviews. If you need help identifying your skills, you might find it useful to take our online skills assessment  (you will need your University of Lincoln student email address). A copy of the results will be emailed to you (and to your personal tutor if you wish) and you might find it useful to discuss your results with your Tutor or a Careers and Employability Adviser.

c) Wants and Needs:
Think about what would be simply ‘nice to have’ for a career and separate these areas from your needs. Addressing these areas will help you narrow or widen your search. Here are some areas you may want to consider:

    • Location (Does it need to be close to where you live?)
    • Salary (Do you need to earn a certain amount or will benefits make a difference?)
    • Working hours (Do you have a maximum amount you can work every week?)
    • Industry stability (How stable do you need your work role to be?)
    • Company Values (Does the company need to follow an ethos eg. Green energy, importance of family time, etc?)

2. Research your career options

Explore what career pathways are available either in or outside traditional medicine. As well as trusted online information, gain real insights by talking to people who are doing the work you are interested in. The more quality information you can gather at this initial stage, the more well-informed you will be, and the easier it will be to make a decision about your options.

You should get the opportunity during medical school to attend careers fairs, talk to doctors about their careers whilst on rotations and to meet with a variety of professionals throughout the course of your degree as well as at extra-curricular events, for example events organised by medical student societies – examples of those at Lincoln and Nottingham. 

Looking ahead to Foundation Training, you should make use of every opportunity to attend career planning workshops and careers fairs during the programme and use your e-portfolio for career reflections. There are also opportunities to spend time in different specialties by organising a ‘taster’ session.

3. Making decisions

At this stage it’s time to consider all that you’ve learnt about yourself and your potential career opportunities, to try and start making some choices about your future career and the direction you’d like to take. You could be deciding for example, which specialty to pursue, which role to apply for, whether to change career direction or take some time out of study or work.

The goal is to make a well-informed, realistic decision, which is why taking time over steps 1 and 2 above is so important. If you’re struggling to make a decision, you may need to repeat steps 1 and 2 to gain more clarity before trying to ‘match’ what’s important to you and what you have to offer to what is available. At this stage, a careers guidance appointment with a Careers and Employability Adviser can be really helpful.

As part of your thinking it can be helpful to have a plan A, B and even C; certainly to have a contingency plan in case your first choice plan doesn’t work out.


4. Turn your decisions into actions

Now you’ve made a decision about where you’re heading or what you’re working towards, you need a plan to bring it to reality. Writing an action plan with clearly defined goals can help keep you on track and you’ll find lots of advice on action planning and a template to download here.

Your action plan may be long term, perhaps looking at steps you can take during your time at medical school to build your portfolio to be successful in achieving your chosen speciality training. Or, it could be more short-term, and look at identifying people who could be useful in helping you gain access to work experience. You may need multiple plans as your journey develops and changes!

Career planning in action!

Hear from two F2 doctors, a fourth-year student and a consultant about how you can use your Clinical Phase to develop your self-awareness, understand the demands of a specialty and make decisions about your future. Click here to visit the videos on our partner site from the University of Nottingham.

Building your career during your studies

It’s important to balance your time spent studying with time dedicated to your own personal and professional development.  

A career in medicine can be highly competitive and taking part in a variety of activities outside of your course can help you to develop transferable skills to support your career, making your future applications more balanced and appealing. Outcomes for Graduates 2018 outlines the knowledge, skills and behaviours that new UK medical graduates must demonstrate.  

As a medical student, you will have opportunities to develop yourself both as part of, and outside of, your course and many will find that the time at university is the ideal time to get involved with as much as possible to boost your skills and experience and improve your employability.  

Opportunities within your studies

Pre-clinical years: 

This is an ideal time to explore what’s available, get involved with societies and broaden your skills with work experience or summer placements.  

At Lincoln Medical School there are various student societies that hold regular events with external guest speakers and extracurricular development opportunities. See their following websites or contact the Lincoln Medical School Office for more information: University of Lincoln Medial SocietyLMS Anatomical SocietyUniversity of Nottingham Student Surgical Society (SCRUBS).

Here in Lincolnshire we have the NHS Talent Academy who support aspiring health professionals with work experience opportunities across the county.

Clinical years: 

As you become immersed in clinical practice you will start to get a better idea of the different areas of medicine. You will have opportunities to talk to doctors at all levels to gain an insight into their daily routines and the pros and cons of their specialty. You could offer to undertake an audit to gain further insight into that area of work.  

During the Clinical Phase you will have the opportunity to go on placement in a specialty and country of your choice. You can use this opportunity to gain invaluable and different experiences to further develop your skills.  

Special Study Module(s): 

During your Clinical Phase you will undertake a number of Special Study Modules/Student Selected Components (SSCs). These are a great opportunity to pursue your interests, develop your research and presentation skills, and explore smaller specialties that you might not have encountered in earlier years.  

Pick from a list of specialties provided by the school ranging from surgery and emergency medicine to modern languages, across multiple sites.  

You can find more information from Health Careers on Student Selected Components.  

Final year elective: 

While your final year elective gives you the chance to experience a different healthcare system and a specialty of your choice, it can also be a great chance to learn more about yourself and where you’d like to be in the future.  

You can choose to do your six-week elective at home or overseas; wherever you go, make the most of the opportunity to develop your skills, knowledge and networks.  

More info from Health Careers on choosing electives.

Clinical Audits: 

Clinical audits help to assess whether patients are getting the best treatment from their service and compare current practice with guidelines for improved practice.  

Getting involved in an audit can show your interest in a specialty and help build networks with senior colleagues. In applications for Specialty Training (and the Academic Foundation Programme) there is an expectation that you will have carried out an audit.  

More from Health Careers on getting involved in clinical audits.

Opportunities beyond your studies 

Competitions and prizes: 

As you progress through your medical training and career there will be numerous opportunities to compete for medical prizes and awards. Such competitions are generally held by medical research, training, specialty or associated bodies, by charities or by educational institutions with an interest in particular aspects of medicine. 

Awards and prizes differ in topic and type of award, as well as in the level of work and original research required. 

Connect with your Tutors in the Medical School to find out what information and advice they can offer you about available opportunities, as well as use the links below as starting points for web research to find out more.  

Sources of competitions and prizes: 

Work shadowing: 

Work shadowing can provide a great insight into a particular specialty including the type of work involved, how that work impacts patients and the kinds of decisions and dilemmas faced. 

It may take time to organise a work shadowing opportunity, so the earlier you can start planning the better. Remember to keep a reflective log or journal that you can look back on later as this may provide useful evidence of the skills and knowledge you have gained. The Lincolnshire NHS Talent Academy may be able to help you find work shadowing opportunities.


Volunteering can provide you with an opportunity to develop a wide range of skills as well as give you that feel-good factor. You’ll find volunteering opportunities in both healthcare and non-healthcare settings; you might want to choose something related to your studies, or something totally random! There’s something to suit all interests and Lincoln Students’ Union have numerous opportunities available for current students, ranging from one-off litter picks and river clean ups, to longer term regular commitments.

You’ll also find national volunteering vacancies at and

Summer jobs and part-time work: 

Part-time work and summer jobs in any setting (not just healthcare-related) can provide you with opportunities to develop skills such as communication, organisation and leadership. 

It can also provide a valuable income, but be careful not to over commit yourself during term time (and please check in with your School for the latest guidance on part time work restrictions for medical students). 

Advice from NHS Health Careers about part time work can be found here.

If you’re interested in work on-campus, sign up to our Campus Jobs service. We also advertise various part-time opportunities in the local area on our CareerLinc system.

We can support you with CVs and job applications. See our Services for Students page to see how to access this support. 

Participating in career mentoring 

Having a mentor could be useful if you would like guidance from a more experienced individual. 

A mentor can be someone to discuss your future choices with, generate ideas with and explore your strengths and weaknesses with. You can either set up your own informal relationship with a mentor or be mentored by a Lincoln alumni or employer contact via our online mentoring platform Lincoln Connect.

You may find it helpful to be mentored by someone who is not a doctor but who can offer you a different perspective, particularly around leadership or career development.  

Your CV and portfolio 

It is important to identify what your out-of-curriculum activities have given you in terms of skills and experience. 

Capturing what you’ve gained from your experiences is helpful in building your self-awareness which is the first stage of career planning. Being able to provide evidence of your skills and capturing this on paper is key for future training and job applications.

Making the most of the Clinical Phase

During your Clinical Phase there are lots of opportunities to gain and document your experience so that you are ready to make career decisions and ultimately to compile your specialty applications. 

This is an ideal opportunity to further develop your skills and build your networks and contacts, so it is worth spending some time reflecting on what you want to gain from this exciting stage and how you’re going to achieve it.  

You might aim to make some key contacts with professionals who will be able to help with your career ideas, or open up doors to new opportunities for you. Or perhaps you’ll use the time to build on new or existing skills which you know are not yet your strong point.

Our partners at the University of Nottingham have some informative videos featuring two F2 doctors, a fourth-year medical student and a consultant providing useful insights on how your Clinical Phase can influence your thinking about career and how you can make the most of your experience to enhance your prospects.  

Watch the videos here.

Foundation Training

What is Foundation Training? 

The Foundation Programme is a structured, supervised workplace-based training programme typically made up of six, four-month placements in a range of medical, surgical and community specialties and settings over a two year period.  

It aims to give doctors in training competence in basic clinical skills and management of acutely ill patients as well as developing skills such as teamwork and communication.  This is in effect your first paid job as a doctor and enables you to put into practice what you’ve learned at medical school while gaining additional skills, knowledge and experience. 

In order to practise unsupervised as a doctor in the UK, you will need to complete one year of Foundation Training. Upon successful completion of Foundation Year 1 doctors can apply to fully register with the General Medical Council. Completion of the full two-year programme is required to progress to Specialty training (link through to ‘Specialty training’ pages) in the NHS. 

Find out more at the UK Foundation Programme website and in particular familiarise yourself with their ‘Rough Guide’.

In recent years a number of variations on the standard Foundation Programme have been introduced. At the time of writing (2020), these programmes are;  

  • Academic Foundation Programme  
  • Priority Foundation Programmes  
  • Psychiatry Foundation Fellowship Programme  
  • Local initiatives  

Academic Foundation Programme-

Academic Foundation doctors have dedicated time set aside for academic activities. The vast majority of academic placements (over 80%) are in research but there are also opportunities in medical education or management and leadership.  The programme follows the same curriculum and outcomes as the standard foundation programme. However, it also includes a period (equivalent to one of the six rotations) of academic research usually during the second year (F2). Most placements offer a four-month block (the last of the six rotations) for academic activity but some do offer more of a day release model over a longer period of study.  About 8% of foundation training posts each year (around 550) are academic foundation posts. In 2019 1,804 medical students applied for 565 places – a ratio of 3.1:1 applicants.  So, if you are considering a career in research, fancy developing innovative cures for diseases, or want to share your knowledge with future trainees as an educator, an Academic Foundation Programme will give you first-hand experience of this environment. It is still possible to have a career in academic medicine (link to ‘academic medicine’ page) without having completed an AFP but the early insight gained from the programme may help you decide if this is the path you wish to pursue. 

Foundation Priority Programmes (FPP)-

FPP’s have been developed to support specific areas of the UK that have historically found it difficult to attract and retain trainees through the foundation and specialty recruitment processes. The main aim is to maximise the opportunity for applicants who wish to be located in less popular areas and therefore improve supply for specialty training and beyond. These programmes also offer a range of incentives, which vary depending on the Foundation school offering them e.g. financial support with accommodation, innovative working rotas, opportunities to gain academic experience, opportunity to undertake management and leadership training. Click here for further information.                                                       

Psychiatry Foundation Fellowship Programme

This programme may suit you if you have an interest in a career in psychiatry as it aims to improve exposure to the specialty during foundation training. It offers doctors access to educational opportunities relevant to psychiatry e.g. funded attendance at relevant conferences, on-line learning and psychiatry journals and psychiatric supervision. The programme intends to provide sufficient exposure to the specialty to enable participants to be in a strong position to confirm psychiatry as their career of choice and to successfully apply to specialty training in this area.  Fellows may also choose to be linked to College faculties to provide additional mentoring in a potential subspecialty (e.g. child and adolescent, perinatal etc).  Click here for further information. 

Local Initiatives-

From time to time foundation schools offer a locally devised programme within foundation training. An example of this is the Longitudinal Integrated Foundation Training offered by Health Education England Yorkshire and Humber. In this programme instead of trainees receiving one 4-month block of general practice training  they experience two sessions per week (1 day) in general practice throughout their two years of Foundation training. This runs alongside 4 days each week in the traditional 4-month hospital block placements, experiencing the 6 other usual placements across the 2 year training programme.  Click here for further information

What skills do trainees need? 

You’ll need excellent clinical skills, a strong record of academic achievement and ideally some published research or teaching experience. 

If you’ve been awarded any prizes or other awards (See the ‘Building your career during your studies’ section to explore these) at medical school, this will also improve your chances. 

It is also possible to demonstrate your ability and enthusiasm in other ways. For example, if you have experience in a research environment either through a prior degree or work experience, or by undertaking a summer research project or voluntary clinical audit. 

Clinically you will need to achieve all the Foundation Programme outcomes in reduced time (as effectively 1/6th of your placements will be on your academic programme) so you need to be confident you have a strong clinical base and be committed to actively managing your learning from day one. 

Useful Links:

(click on the links)

Applying for the Foundation Programme  

If you wish to apply for the Foundation Programme (or Academic Foundation Programme) you will usually do this in the October of your final year at medical school. If your application is successful you will start the programme the following August. For full details of the annual application process click here to see the Applicant’s Handbook.

Choosing your Foundation School 

For the standard foundation programme you must rank all schools (or Units of Application* as they are known) in order of preference. In recent years almost 95% of all applicants were allocated to one of their top five preferences and almost 80% to their first choice. 

Some of the factors you may take into account when comparing schools are: 

  • the programmes available at each school. For example, if you definitely want to do a rotation in paediatric surgery you will need to search for all programmes containing these rotations 
  • familiarity with the local area
  • proximity to friends and family and your support network 
  • reputation of the training, hospitals and GP practices in the area – each year the General Medical Council survey foundation trainees and produce a report with their feedback.  You can also access this information in an easy format via this tool
  • whether the school allocates all F1 and F2 rotations at the start of the programme (50% of schools do this) 

Special circumstances 

If you need to be in a geographical area for specific caring or health reasons, you can apply to the UK Foundation Programme to be considered for pre-allocation to a specific foundation school on the grounds of special circumstances. 

*A Unit of Application comprises of one or more foundation schools that are grouped together for the purposes of processing applications. 

The application process 

Once you have completed the application form and ranked each location your application score is ranked amongst all other applicants nationally. 

The score is based on two elements: 

  1. Situational Judgement Test (SJT) result – worth up to 50 points 
  2. Educational Performance Measure (EPM) – worth up to 50 points. 

The Situational Judgement Test (SJT):

You will be required to sit the SJT as part of your application. The test is computer-based and is available to sit at a variety of test centre locations on dates in December and January in the year you apply. It is designed to assess the professional attributes expected of a foundation doctor according to the person specification for the Foundation Programme and presents you with a series of work related scenarios and asks you how you would respond. The test currently consists of 75 sections of multiple choice questions to be answered within two hours and 20 minutes.  

The attributes being assessed are: 

  • commitment to professionalism 
  • coping with pressure 
  • effective communication 
  • learning and professional development 
  • organisation and planning 
  • patient focus 
  • problem-solving and decision-making 
  • self-awareness and insight 
  • working effectively as part of a team 

How can I prepare? 

The SJT is not something for which you can revise. The attributes listed should have been developed during your time at medical school. However, it is wise to familiarise yourself with the style of questions before you sit the test. 
There are practice tests available on the Foundation Programme website here which is designed to help applicants prepare for the test by familiarising themselves with the test format and answering questions within the time limit. 
Since the introduction of the SJT in 2013, the marketplace has been flooded with resources claiming to help students do well. Carefully consider the reputation and cost of such resources when deciding if appropriate. 

Neither we or the UK Foundation Programme Office, has any connection with, nor endorse or recommend, any of the preparatory materials provided by any individual or organisation, whether provided commercially or free of charge. 

In the Student BMJ September 2015 a group of foundation doctors reviewed the pros and cons of some of the most popular revision aids. 

Changes for entry in 2021 and beyond:

As of December 2020, the way in which candidates sit the SJT is changing. Medical students / graduates sitting the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) in December 2020 and January 2021 will be accessing the SJT via a digital platform. Pearson VUE and Work Psychology Group have partnered with Health Education England and the UKFPO to develop a computer based SJT, to be introduced as part of the application process for UKFP 2021.  

Keep up to date with latest developments via the UKFP website 

The Educational Performance Measure:

An EPM decile score (up to 43 points) is calculated for each student and is based on your academic performance during medical school. 
For example, when ranked amongst your fellow students if your academic record places you in the first decile (i.e. you are in the top 10% of your cohort) you will receive the maximum 43 points. If you are in the tenth decile (i.e. you are in the bottom 10% of your cohort) you will receive 34 points. 
You will be able to see your EPM decile score once you have registered on the online application process. 
In addition to this score you can gain seven points for educational achievements in the form of additional degrees or publications. 

Applying for the Academic Foundation Programme:

Currently the application process for academic training is run independently by each Foundation School. You will complete an extra section on your online foundation application and shortlisted candidates are invited to interview. Applicants can apply to up to two Units of Application. 

Each Foundation School will use slightly different interview processes and scoring systems but all will be looking for candidates to demonstrate a strong academic ability, an understanding of, and passion for the programme and the potential to develop the competencies outlined in the Academic Compendium. 

You will be required to answer up to six additional questions to support your AFP application. You will have space to write a maximum of 225 words for each item. Some Units of Application don’t ask any questions, some ask two or three questions and others ask the maximum six questions.  

More information to explore…

Speciality Training

Once you have successfully completed the Foundation Programme you can then apply to train in a specialty of your choice. 

Training Programmes differ in length and structure according to the specialty. For example, full-time general practice training lasts for three years whereas other specialties can last from five to eight years or longer if sub-specialising. 

Training Programmes 

Training programmes are either referred to as: 

  • run-through - where you only need to apply once, for example general practice, public health and paediatrics 


  • ‘core’ plus ‘higher’ training (sometimes referred to as ‘uncoupled’ training) where you complete two to three years of core training and then apply again for higher specialty training. For example, internal medicine training (IMT), core surgical training (CST), core psychiatry training (CPT) and acute care common stem training (ACCS) (leading to further training in emergency medicine, intensive care, anaesthetics and acute internal medicine). 

Please note: Some specialty training programmes may offer both run-through and core plus higher training programmes. Some specialties may also recruit doctors who have trained in a different specialty initially (eg. Paediatrics to GP) 

The GMC website provides information on all specialty and sub-specialty pathways.  

Finding out about Specialties 

According to the GMC, there are currently around 65 specialties and 31 sub-specialties in the UK. Therefore it’s never too early to find out about them. One of the best ways to research a specialty is to spend time in it, and to spend time talking to doctors training and working in that field. 

You will spend time in some of them during your medical degree and will get the opportunity during your Clinical Phase to choose a specialty and location in which to do your Elective placement. You also have the chance to undertake Special Study Modules (SSMs) of your choice where you can find out more about a particular specialty that interests you. 

Outside of your clinical placements you will have the opportunity to talk to doctors from various specialties during careers fairs and other careers activities within the curriculum and at events organised by medical student societies.  

Some Specialty Training Programmes offer ‘dual’ accreditation, for example, you complete your training in specialty A and B (known as Dual Certificate of Completion of Training, or Dual CCT). This means you cover all the competencies required for both specialties. 

How to Choose a Specialty 

Your choice will depend on a number of internal and external factors. One approach is to the follow this four step model: 

  1. Self-exploration – do you know what you want, what you are good at and what you enjoy? 
  2. Option exploration – do you really know what options exist and is your information accurate or based on stereotypes? 
  3. Decision-making – there may be several specialties which could make a good fit for you. Do you know how you make good decisions and what might help you make an informed decision? 
  4. Implementation – having decided what to go for, how will you get there? What do you need to do before even applying? 

Key Questions 

There are some key questions to consider at the decision-making stage, based on your self-exploration and your research of options whether you have a clear idea already or yet to decide from a longer list of specialties. 

  • Do you think you have the required experienceand skills for the specialty? 
  • Will the work interest you enough and provide enough job satisfaction
  • Do your core values and the things that matter to you most ’fit’ with this type of work? 
  • Do your potential colleagues share your values
  • How will this specialty impact on your broader home life and how much of a factor is this for you? 
  • What kind of patients will you treat in this specialty? 
  • What does the training pathway involve? 
  • What changes do you envisage in the specialty over the course of your career, and how might that impact on you? 

It is likely you will have more key questions which are important to you. 

For example, if patient contact, high salary or the opportunity to work part-time are important to you, you may target some of your thinking around these factors when comparing specialties. 

Top five tips from the BMA 

  • Research your options carefully and use all sources of career advice available 
  • Think about options that will suit your lifestyle 
  • Don’t rush into making a decision 
  • When considering posts ensure that the contract and the conditions of service are fully understood 
  • Think about your future and how the specialty will change over time 

Competition for specialties 

One factor you may consider is the availability of specialty training posts and the competition for these places.  

Every year Health Education England produce competition data  for the different specialties which detail number of applications, posts and overall competition ratio for each specialty. 

More information on choosing a Specialty: 

(Click on the links)

When to choose and apply for Specialty training 

If you wish to go straight from Foundation Training to Specialty Training, you will usually apply for training programmes around October or November of your Foundation Year 2 (FY2). 

We know from the F2 Destination Reports that many doctors decide to take time out between Foundation Training and Specialty Training; informally known as Foundation Year 3 (FY3). For example, to pursue clinical work abroad, work in a service related post (non-training grade post) or pursue other interests such as a teaching fellow, undertake further study or go travelling. 

If you decide to take time out between foundation and specialty training, you need to be aware of any restrictions on how much time you can spend working in a specialty before applying to it in the future. It is important to check the person specification of the specialty/ies you are interested for the most up-to-date information. For example, many specialties may stipulate no more than 18 or 24 months of relevant experience by the intended start of date of the post. 

With the exception of the GP programme, you cannot defer your place to Specialty Training unless for statutory reasons such as maternity, paternity, adoption leave or ill health as detailed in the ‘Gold Guide’ (Reference Guide for Postgraduate Specialty Training in the UK)

Find out more about taking time out by clicking on the ‘Taking time out’ drop down on this page.

Specialty Training generally commences in the first week of August each year with the main application rounds opening in October or November of the preceding year. For example, doctors wishing to commence training in August 2022 must submit their applications by October or November 2021. 

Some specialties may also have further rounds of recruitment throughout the year, with different start dates. An indication of key recruitment dates for each year can be found online on the Health Education England site

Also see this useful link to Health Education England’s information on Speciality training.

How to apply for Specialty training 

In the main recruitment round, applicants complete an online application form around October or November and are usually invited to interview between December and March. 

Interviews may be in person or online. For a number of specialties, you may be asked to provide an application portfolio (sometimes called an ‘evidence folder’) which demonstrates your suitability for that specialty or training programme. 

It is therefore helpful to start gaining and gathering evidence of the required experiences, skills and attributes for the specialty to which you are applying as soon as possible (particularly during Foundation Training but also in medical school). It will also be important to have an up-to-date CV detailing your experience, skills and achievements to date.  

For information see the ‘Medical CVs and portfolio’ drop down on this page.

Applying for multiple Specialties 

You can apply for as many specialty training programmes as you wish. However, there is a lot of work involved in each application and you may find it hard to convince an interview panel of your commitment to a specialty if you apply for too many. 

In 2017, around  50% of applicants applied to only one specialty or training programme, 25% applied to two specialties or programmes and 11% applied to three specialties. 

A small number of applicants each year apply to more than three specialties with a very small number of applicants applying to 16 to 18 specialties or programmes. 

See this NHS page for more information.

Completing Specialty training overseas 

If you are considering training in another country, you need to find out if: 

  • your UK Foundation Training is recognised by the country you want to train in 
  • you need to take any additional exams 
  • specialty training in that country would be recognised by the UK if you returned to work here 

Doctors from European Economic Area (EEA) countries are entitled to registration in other EEA countries as long as they satisfy certain standard criteria.** 

Other countries outside of the EEA recognise UK training and take UK trained doctors onto their specialty training programmes. 

For example, in Australia and New Zealand if you hold a primary medical qualification from the UK, you are eligible for registration without sitting any exams. However, each specialty college in these countries has different eligibility requirements. And, as with specialty training in the UK, some training programmes are more competitive than others. 

Some doctors may also apply to take time out of their training, which may or may not ‘count’ towards the total training time in that specialty. Details about these kinds of opportunities can be found on the Health Careers website and in the Gold Guide (Reference Guide for Postgraduate Specialty Training in the UK).  

** this information will be updated in due course if the situation changes post 31st January 2020 when the UK leaves the EU 

Useful Links:

(Click on the links)

Academic Medicine

If you are interested in practising as a doctor while also making a difference to the future of medical science and education, then a career in academic medicine may be for you. 

Clinical academics  are qualified doctors who combine working as a specialist doctor with research and/ or teaching responsibilities. Most academics undertake research and teach but some focus more on one of these aspects. 

You will usually spend half the week practising as a doctor and the other half carrying out academic activities. Clinical academics work in all medical specialties and comprise around 5% of the medical consultant workforce. 

To be a clinical academic you will need a higher degree at some point; at least a Masters degree and in most cases an MD or PhD, before you reach consultant level. 

Routes into academic medicine 

During the Foundation Programme and Specialty Training there are specific programmes which provide opportunities for doctors to spend time in research. 
The Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) enables newly qualified doctors to spend up to four months of the two-year programme in academia. 

Academic Clinical Fellowships (ACFs) enable trainees to spend a quarter of their time during specialty training developing research skills. The ACF is for a maximum of three years (four years for GPs). At the end of the fellowship trainees are supported to apply for a PhD

However, it is not necessary to participate in one of the above programmes to get involved in research or become an academic.  It is possible to pursue independent research jobs, teaching posts, or various fellowship schemes, at all career stages alongside your clinical role all of which give you insight and show your interest. Some may lead to a higher degree (MD or PhD) although the latter invariably requires time out of your chosen training programme (known as “out of programme experience” or ‘OOPE’ for short). 

How to get involved in research, teaching and academia  

As a medical student there are plenty of opportunities that will hopefully allow you to explore an area of interest and will provide an introduction to research methodology. You may even get the opportunity to present your work at conferences and publish a paper. 

Some ways you can get involved include: 

  • Your third year BMedSci project  
  • Get involved in an audit 
  • Develop or deliver teaching modules 
  • Consider and develop/ revise local guidelines 
  • Help with an ongoing project by collecting data 
  • Patient and public involvement 
  • Your special study modules 
  • Working with local research groups 
  • A summer internship such as those offered by the Wellcome Trust

Try to find someone who is actively involved in good quality research, arrange to talk to them and offer to get involved in their work. If they are active researchers, they will probably have several projects in mind and will be grateful for the offer of help. 

Useful Links: 

(Click on the links)

  • Academy of Medical Scienceshas a mentoring and career development programme which includes workshops and events held all over the UK. 
  • British Medical Association - Overview of academic medicine with some useful case studies and links to other organisations and the guide - A Role of the Clinical Academic - which describes the role of the clinical academic doctor, and includes a number of examples of medical academics. 
  • National Institute of Clinical Excellence has produced a Quality Standards Service -Improvement template which may help with clinical audit. 
  • National Student Association of Medical Research (NSAMR) collaborates with the Academy of Medical Sciences and is funded by the Wellcome Trust, to support students in pursuit of an academic career. 
  • Royal College of Physicians have produced a detailed toolkit for medics interested in an academic career in medicine. The toolkit covers research options, pathways, resources and case studies.

Taking Time Out

At some point during your medical career you may want to take time away from medicine or from a formal medical training programme. 

In recent years over half of doctors completing foundation training do not go straight on to specialty training. Another popular time to take time out of training is in the period between entering higher specialty training and gaining a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). 
Reasons are varied but can include: 

  • A desire to explore activities away from medicine 
  • Explore an area of research related to medicine 
  • Personal or health-related reasons 
  • Wanting to study or  work abroad

This section outlines some key points to consider if taking time out and provides a number of resources for you to explore further. 

“Taking time out of training is common; At the inception of the foundation programme, the expectation was that on completion of FY2 the doctor would progress to specialty training. The review [HEE: The Postgraduate Medical Foundation Programme Review, 2018] acknowledged the current trend for more than half of those completing the foundation programme to take one or more years out of training. Many of these doctors remain in the healthcare workforce either on a regular or ad-hoc basis.” 

Source: Health Education England: Postgraduate Medical Foundation Programme Review 2018

“A small number of doctors complete the Foundation Programme and have not returned to UK training after five years (525 or 7% of the 2012 F2 cohort). However nearly 90% of doctors who complete the Foundation Programme go on to enter specialty or core training in the UK within three years.” 

Source: GMC Training pathways: analysis of the transition from the foundation programme to the next stage of training Working paper 1 – November 2017 

When to take time out 

There are certain points within your medical career when you may consider taking time out. 

During Medical School:

This option is uncommon, but can happen. It is really important to speak to your Personal Tutor in the Medical School to discuss your options and ensure you fully understand the process and implications on your studies. The Student Services Team based in the Minerva Building can also offer advice, including advising on implications on funding. We in the Careers & Employability Service can help with a non-judgemental, impartial discussion around your thoughts, options and plans.  

Before Foundation Training:

There are two key things to consider if you thinking of taking time out straight after medical school: 

  • GMC provisional registration 
  • Sponsorship of your application to Foundation Training 

General Medical Council Provisional Registration 

The GMC allows you to hold your provisional registration for three years and 30 days. You need to be on the provisional register until you successfully complete your Foundation Year 1; when you can apply to be on the full register. 

After three years and 30 days of holding provisional registration you won’t be allowed to reapply for provisional registration again in the UK. 
Most medical students apply for provisional registration during their final year so that they can undertake Foundation Training straight after graduation. However, it is not necessary to apply for provisional registration at this point if you know you are going to take time out. This decision should be taken only after consulting with a Medical Sub Dean at your medical school. 

There is currently no time limit for applying for provisional registration after completing your medical degree but bear in the mind that the GMC would want to know how you had spent your time since medical school. 

Click this link to the GMC website provisional registration page. 

Application to Foundation Training 

Applicants to Foundation Training are sponsored by your medical school for two years (that is, the year in which you graduate and the following year). 

If you delay beyond the two years, you will need to apply independently of the medical school via UKFPO’s Eligibility Office. You will subsequently sit a Clinical Assessment at the end of October of the year you apply. 

Deferring Foundation Training 

An applicant who has been accepted onto the Foundation Programme may only defer the start date of their training for statutory reasons (for example, maternity leave and sickness) . See the Foundation Training website for more details.

Between F1 and F2:

A small number of Foundation Schools will support time out between FY1 and FY2. A very small number also accredit an FY2 year abroad (where the FY2 year is seen as equivalent to that of a UK programme). If you did decide to go down this route, you would need to find out how allocation to your FY2 would happen upon your return. You will need to contact Foundation Schools individually as to what regional arrangements are in place. 

Ensure you enquire early with the local Foundation School Director of that region, if you are considering any of these options. 

Some doctors may also apply to take time out of the foundation programme for a number of reasons such as gaining additional clinical experience, undertaking a period of research or planned career break. More information about this and important issues to consider can be found in the Foundation Programme Reference Guide. 

Foundation year 3:

Taking time out after F2 has become common (in 2018 only 37.7% of F2 doctors went straight on to specialty training) and has developed it’s own term – the F3 year. An “F3” year could be spent doing locum work in the UK or overseas as a doctor, travelling, or trying out other non-medical work. However, many NHS trusts are now offering F3 jobs with job titles such as FY3 Clinical Fellow, Junior Specialty Doctor, Locally Employed Doctor, Trust Junior Doctor and Trust Doctor.  Some offer training, study leave and other support mechanisms as an incentive for doctors to join them and fill service gaps whilst balancing the desire of the doctor to try something different to give them a break before specialty training, and help them decide which specialty to choose.  

Useful resources: 

Before Specialty Training:

You are able to take a break in practice after your FY2 before applying for specialty training. This is the most common time for a break as you have medical experience, you may like more time to decide on which specialty/ies or programmes to apply for. You will also have your full GMC registration allowing you to work as a doctor. 

In terms of how much time you can take out, be aware that all applicants to specialty training are required to provide evidence of achievement of Foundation Competence within three and a half years prior to the intended commencement date for the advertised post (see Applicant Guidance for more info on what is required).

Also, for a number of specialties or programmes at ST1/CT1 level, you cannot exceed between 18 and 24 months (post-foundation or equivalent) experience in the specialty to which you have applied by the appointment date of that post. It is important to check the person specification for the specialty or programme you are considering as time limits may differ. 

See this link for Specialty Training Person Specifications.

You are unable to defer your place to Specialty Training except for statutory reasons such as parental leave, achieving a place on a masters or PhD course.  The one exception is the general practice programme which offers the opportunity to defer for a year. 

See this link for information on deferment options

During Specialty Training:

The GMC has a number of Out of Programme (OOP) options available. The Gold Guide details what is possible but normally there are four options available: 

  • Out of Programme Experience for Training 
  • Out of Programme Experience for Clinical Experience 
  • Out of Programme for Research 
  • Out of Programme for a Career Break (e.g. to work in industry, for ill health or domestic responsibilities) 

More information on…

Considerations on taking time out 

As with any decision it is important that you make it with as much information and consideration as possible. Here are some points that you may wish to think about or discuss with others. 

Length of break 

How long are you considering taking time out for? Three months? Six months? A year? Longer? Once you’ve decided how long you want away, then think about the following points. 
Implications of a break 

Ask yourself if taking time out will affect your career progression? For example, you may also need to consider NHS length of service, your ability to practice on return, National Insurance, pension and tax contributions and other factors personal to you as part of your decision-making process.  

What you plan on doing? 

Are you wishing to do a postgraduate course? Undertake some independent research? Write a book? Recharge the batteries? Travel? 

Some elements of your time away may be used toward your Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT), others such as volunteering overseas, will not. 
Transition back into practice 

How easy will it be to pick up where you left off? Will you need to undertake clinical refreshers? 

It is a very good idea to keep in touch with your supervisors and Local Education Training Board (LETB) or local Deanery to arrange a suitable return to work package. 

Links to more information  

Working Abroad

At some point in your career you may decide you want to spend time working overseas. 

Personal motivations are varied; you may wish to literally expand your horizons. Perhaps you want to see medical treatment in developing countries and share knowledge with others or want to work with emerging treatments in the developed world. 

You may just want a break from the NHS and training, or be unsure of what to do next and need some time to think. 
This section will give you some ideas and resources to explore before making your decision on undertaking work, travel or training abroad. 

When to go 

A career in medicine offers a series of stages where it may be more or less appropriate to take time out. Each stage has its pros and cons and these need to be considered carefully when making a decision. 
The ideal time for working or studying abroad will differ from person to person. Think about your individual circumstances and the stage of your training. The section on this page titled ‘Taking time out’ may be  of interest to you.  

After Medical School  

As long as you abide by any regulations in place from the GMC or UK Foundation Programme Office, it is possible to take time out between graduating from Medical School and starting your Foundation Programme. 

It is advisable to let the Medical School know your intentions of taking a gap year so that information transfers between it and your Foundation School happen at a later date. 

During Foundation Training 

Some Foundation Schools will support time out between FY1 and FY2, or accredit an FY2 year abroad. If you are interested, it is imperative that you talk to your Foundation School director as early as possible to discuss the options.   

After Foundation Training 

This is probably the most popular time for doctors to head overseas for work. They will do so for a year or two and return to the UK for Specialty training within three years.  

Please note:  

  • the current requirement for UK Specialty training applicants is to have evidence of achievement of foundation competences, “in the three and a half years preceding the advertised post start date for the round of application”  
  • that most specialties want candidates not to have exceeded 18 months working (post-foundation or equivalent) in the specialty to which they applying.   

At this stage doctors are often seeking a change of scenery and a break from training after the six or more years at medical school and foundation training. You may also feel like many other doctors at this stage and be uncertain which specialty you wish to pursue. Time out working abroad may help with this decision. 

During Specialty Training 

It may be possible to get a placement abroad during Specialty Training which would count towards accredited training, although this is getting increasingly difficult in certain areas due to the recruitment of locums. 

It is important to research your options and discuss your decision with your training programme directors, the Local Education and Training Board (LETB), GMC and relevant training college. 

Explore your out of programme options with the below links:

After Specialty Training 

It is possible to gain employment abroad after Specialty Training which may give you additional experience at senior level. This experience could be a valuable addition to your CV if you decide to apply for senior posts back in the UK. 

Doing all your Specialty Training Abroad 

While it is possible to do all your Specialty Training abroad it is imperative you check your eligibility to practice in the UK when or if you return. 

Issues to consider 

Your motivations 

Take some time to consider why you want to work abroad. Will this time add anything to your career? Why abroad and not in the UK? Are you looking to develop personally as well as professionally? Are you trying to test a career idea prior to applying for Specialty Training? 

Developed versus undeveloped countries 

Both will present different challenges and opportunities so it’s important to think about what you want to gain from your experience. For example developing countries may expose you to more clinical situations at an earlier stage in your career, whereas developed countries could be a better opportunity for further study or shadowing. 

Implications of a break 

Taking time out to work abroad at any point of your career may interrupt your work here in the UK. Depending on when you do it the break could interfere with continuous service in the NHS, pensions, National Insurance and tax payments. 

You will also need to consider what might change in the UK during your time abroad and how you will keep up to date with developments in the UK. 

Application timelines and being away from the UK 

Depending on when you are planning to work abroad you will need to consider how the break will affect your ability to apply to the next stage of your career in the UK. 

For example, if you decide to take time out immediately after Medical School you will not be able to defer your Foundation place, you would need to return to the UK to sit the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) and the process for applying may change while you are away. 

Similarly if you work abroad before applying to Higher Speciality Training you will need to keep abreast of the application process and should consider how you will attend interviews. 

Returning to the UK 

It may seem counter-intuitive to be thinking about your return before you’ve even left the country, but having a well-thought-out plan may ensure you don’t get miss deadlines. 

Some things to consider while you’re away 

  • Be aware of timelines and deadlines for the next step of your career (e.g. Foundation placements, sitting the SJT, Specialty/GP applications, clinical skills refreshment, GMC licensing issues) 
  • Keep a reflective portfolio or diary so you can evidence your skills and experiences during interviews 
  • Find out what evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) the GMC would require on your return. It may be that the country you work in will have similar requirements to the GMC and the evidence you collect for your overseas regulator will transfer across. For example, the Australian Medical Council set out their requirements.  Check out the GMC Guidance on CPD
  • Stay connected, or reconnect quickly with your UK networks (e.g. colleagues, supervisors, LETB or local Deanery etc.) so that you are kept up to date with developments at home. 

Useful Resources 

Click the below links to view advice from the following organisations on working abroad: 

Alternative Career Choices

While the vast majority of students who study medicine go on to become doctors, at some point at Medical School or in your career as a doctor, you may decide practising clinical medicine isn’t for you.  

Luckily a medical degree, together with the right skills and attitude, can open doors to a great number of career opportunities.  
Within medicine there are plenty of options beyond working in a hospital specialty or GP practice. And outside of medicine there is a wide range of alternative careers to consider.  

How do you decide? 

Some thinking time and self-reflection is really helpful. It’s important to think carefully about why you do not wish to continue in a traditional medical career. This can help you to think about what you may be seeking from an alternative career.  

You may wish to start by identifying what you like and dislike about your medical training and clinical placements so far. Think about what you have been good at, and where you have been less effective. The skills you will have developed on your course and subsequent training will be transferable to other career areas – listing these down alongside examples and evidence of the skills you have gained will be good starting points for making links between your current skillset and what they would bring to other careers. It might also highlight any skills gaps which you might look to try and overcome before starting to apply for roles.   

You may also benefit from considering your wider life outside of the course and take into account your broader interests and activities. Take a look at these careers resources to explore your options and you may also find it helpful to speak with one of our Careers and Employability Advisers via a Careers Guidance session. Visit our Appointment Booking Tool for to book this.   

What options are open to you? 

It is estimated that around two thirds of all graduate-level jobs are open to those from any degree discipline and a medical graduate is likely to be held in high regard by many employers.  
It is impossible to provide an exhaustive list of options but below is a list of some opportunities to consider as a starting point.   

You may also find it useful to think about how far away from medicine in a traditional setting you wish to go. Do you still want to use your medical knowledge or work in a scientific arena or are you looking for something completely different? 

Options in medicine or clinical practice 

Allied health professions 

You could retrain in one of the allied health professional roles such as dietitian, physiotherapist or radiographer. Or you may consider working as a Physician Associate.

Complementary medicine 

Treatments that are used alongside conventional medical treatments fall under the complementary medicine heading. The main treatments in the UK are acupuncture, chiropractic, herbalism, homoeopathy and osteopathy

Cosmetic medicine 

Cosmetic medicine is the practice of non-surgical and minor surgical procedures that are designed to change the appearance of individuals by their effects on superficial tissues, thereby reversing the signs of ageing. 

Defence medicine 

As a medic in the Army, Navy or RAF your career path mirrors that of a civilian medic. You are able to join the armed forces during your time at Medical School, or on completion of your training. 

Forensic and legal medicine 

This specialty covers professionals working as forensic medical practitioners, medicolegal advisers and medically-qualified coroners. 

Forensic physicians will work with police detainees, forensic pathologists deal with the dead and medico-legal advisers provide support and advice to practitioners. 

Maritime medicine 

As a maritime medic you will be part of the healthcare team on board commercial liners. You will be required to support the medical team in managing a range of pathologies from acute emergencies to out-patient clinics. 

Nutritional medicine 

Nutritional medicine aims to heal the body by having an underlying understanding of the nutrients needed to balance and repair. Jobs exist in health and medical services as well as the food and supplements industries. 

Occupational medicine 

Occupational health is the branch of clinical medicine which focuses on health care in the workplace. This area encompasses health and safety, risk assessment and prevention, the management of pathology due to work-related activities and safely returning to work after illness. 

Pharmaceutical medicine 

This is an option if you are interested in drug discovery, medicines regulation or medical affairs Take a look at Careers in Pharmaceutical Medicine. 

Private health sector 

This is often an option for those experienced or qualified consultants rather than newly qualified doctors. 

Public health 

Public health is the protection and improvement of the health of groups and populations. Public health interventions have the potential to improve the lives of thousands of people 

Working in the voluntary sector 

Working in the voluntary sector doesn’t necessarily mean working voluntarily; there are many paid opportunities. A good site to start with is  

Working overseas 

See our specific information on  working and volunteering overseas from Nottingham and Lincoln pages.

Options related to medicine 

Health economics 

As a health economist you will study the functions of healthcare systems and aim to find maximum value for money through cost and clinical effectiveness of healthcare provision. 

Is there an economist in the house? – BMJ 

Health informatics 

Health informatics  is about getting fast and accurate information to the right people at the right time. It is very technology-based and may appeal to those with an analytical and inquisitive mind. 

Medical Communication 

Medical communications agencies provide consultancy services to the pharmaceutical industry to help raise awareness of medicines. You might be writing advertising copy, instructions, or putting together patent applications. 

Medical devices 

The medical device industry covers the research, development and manufacture plus the regulation, marketing and selling of all devices; whether it’s a one-time use plaster or a complex surgical robot. 

Medical devices are a key element in healthcare and can play a role is diagnosing, preventing and treating a variety of conditions, illness and diseases. 

Medical illustration 

If you have a creative and artistic streak then a career in medical illustration could be right for you. 

As a medical illustrator you will interpret and create visual material to help record and disseminate medical, biological and related knowledge to staff and patients. 

You may also be interested in clinical photography. You will produce accurate and objective images that truthfully represent illness, injuries and progress of operations and procedures. 

Medical illustrator – Prospects 

Medical journalism 

Linked to medical communication, you may use your flair for writing in a journalistic sense. You would often use this as an addition, rather than an alternative, to your career in medicine and while competition is fierce the thrill of seeing your name in print is priceless. 

Medical sales 

Medical sales reps are a key link between medical and pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals. Your strong medical knowledge could give you an advantage in this role. 

Work outside medicine and healthcare 

Perhaps you want to leave medicine and healthcare behind. Most graduate jobs are open to applicants from any degree discipline. Prospects can be a good place to start exploring a range of different roles and sectors – and if you have no idea where else to start, have a go at the Prospects career planner quiz to see what roles and job groups match your preferences and personality.  

Further help 

(Click on the links)

Medical CVs and Portfolios

At some stage during your medical training you may need a CV. This document is your personal record of achievements, experiences, skills and knowledge. It is designed to convince a recruiter that you are the right person for the job. 

When will you need a CV? 

Your CV may be used at any point in your medical career. Often medical students require a CV when applying for an elective placement in their final year. 

You will not normally need a CV to apply for the standard Foundation Programme. However, the Foundation School or trust to which you are subsequently appointed may wish to see your CV after the UK Foundation Programme Office (UK FPO) recruitment and selection process. If you are applying to the Academic Foundation programme, you may also need a CV. 

Later on in your career, most specialties will require you to attend interviews with a portfolio of evidence, and your CV will most likely be the first document within your portfolio. 

Starting a CV 

A good CV is one that is targeted to the opportunity on offer, rather than simply a list of ‘stuff’. Think of it as an advert selling you. Depending on what you are applying for, you may have several different versions of your CV. 

Before writing anything down, it is important to think about how you are going to evidence that you match the criteria in the person specification. 

Analyse the opportunity  

Analyse the opportunity and identify exactly what experience and skills are required. This can be achieved by reading the person specification or advert. 

Often person specifications are split into essential and desirable criteria. In order to be considered for the next round of recruitment you must provide evidence for the essential criteria. 

Analyse yourself and see where your achievements, experience and skills match those of the person specification. Think broadly about all the things you’ve done including: 

  • academic study 
  • clinical experience 
  • previous work experience or employment 
  • voluntary work 
  • interests and achievements outside medicine 

What should be included in your CV? 

There is not a ‘one size fits all’ way of writing a CV and how you choose to present the information is down to you and the position to which you are applying. 

Usually a CV at this stage in your career would be two sides of A4, however this is not fixed in stone and depends on how much evidence you have to include. As you progress in your career as a doctor it is not uncommon to see four or five page CVs. 

The key thing is to ensure that the information is relevant to the position to which you are applying. 

Personal details 

Usually these are at the top of the page. You should include your name, address, contact phone number and email address. You may need to include your GMC and MDU numbers. 

Date of birth, marital status, health status and nationality will not be needed if applying for positions in the UK. 

Requirements may be different if applying for positions overseas. GoinGlobal is an online resource giving information on typical CV format and applying for positions overseas. Access is available via the Careers on Blackboard support pages on Moodle.  

Education and qualifications 

This is an opportunity to highlight key achievements from your medical degree (and your BMedSci or previous degree). Don’t just the list the modules you have taken, but highlight relevant projects or pieces of work, prizes and other academic achievements. 

As you progress through your medical career, A levels and GCSEs (or equivalent) become less relevant and you could leave them off your CV. For example, pre-university qualifications are not mentioned in any person specification for Specialty Training.  

Professional experience 

Focus on your relevant experiences rather than listing every clinical placement you’ve done. If you have done your elective, include that in this section. Include a couple of bullet points for each placement to highlight the knowledge, skills and experience you developed. 

You may wish to include information about non-clinical work experience in a separate section. 

Additional skills and achievements 

This could include prizes, IT skills, languages spoken etc. Think about why the employer would be interested in knowing these things rather than listing for the sake of writing something. 


It is good to draw on your experiences outside of your medical degree. Don’t be bland and list hobbies that don’t say anything particularly interesting. “Socialising with friends, reading or going to the cinema” or similar may not add anything of value. 

Person specifications for Specialty Training posts mention achievements outside of medicine and extracurricular activities from university such as involvement in clubs or societies. Include this information with details of your involvement and the skills and qualities you have demonstrated. 


You may wish to include contact details of two referees, alternatively you can write “References available on request”. 

There is an argument that this section is redundant as employers will only contact referees after the shortlist has been drawn up and successful candidates have been contacted. 

Other sections you might include: 

Personal profile or career objective- 

A personal profile can act as an introduction to you and what you have to offer. It is important to tailor this to the role you are applying to. Alternatively, you could use it to explain your career interests. This would appear at the beginning of your CV (below your personal details) and should be two or three lines in length. 

Previous non-medical work experience or voluntary work- 

You may include a few bullet points about your main responsibilities or simply list dates, job titles and organisation. If you are a GEM student, you may have significant previous experience and this is likely to feature more strongly in your CV. Pull out the transferable skills you have gained. 

Positions of responsibility-

For example being a committee member of a society, volunteer or event organiser. 

Teaching and audit experience-

You may not have experience of this during medical school but this will probably need to be on your CV by the time you have completed Foundation Training. When giving your examples make sure to include the outcomes as well as what you did. 

Research experience, presentations and posters-

You may not have experience of this during medical school but this will probably need to be on your CV by the time you have completed Foundation Training.  List publications, case reports and conference presentations. 

Additional relevant courses-

For example, Advanced Life Support 

Application portfolios 

Your application portfolio is a collection of evidence used throughout your career to demonstrate your commitment to continual professional development. It is a physical piece of evidence that may contain your CV, a personal and professional development plan, reflective reports, interesting cases and certificates. 

It is important not to get this confused with your Foundation Training e-Portfolio. While you may use some of the content as examples in your future applications, your e-Portfolio is an electronic tool designed to help you reflect on your progress during your F1 and F2 years and to demonstrate you have gained the competencies expected during Foundation training. 

Your application portfolio will be a key requirement for many specialty training posts, so it is important to get into the habit of collecting examples and spending time writing reflectively about your experiences throughout your training. 

Further on in your career in medicine your portfolio will be used to ensure you are meeting the required competencies for revalidation with the GMC and regular appraisals. 

How to structure your portfolio:

Not all specialties require a portfolio (General Practice for instance) but for those that do it is important to check if they have guidelines on how to structure your evidence. 

All portfolios should include a contents section in order to make it easy for the interviewer to see your relevant evidence. You should invest in a solid ring binder, plastic wallets and folder dividers to help make your portfolio easy to navigate. 

Health Education England has produced a Best Practice Guidance document. 

What to include in your portfolio:

The actual evidence you use in your portfolio will vary from specialty to specialty and it is important that you undertake careful research when it comes to applying to specialty training. The information can be found in each of the specialty recruitment webpages. For example: 

Typical sections of a portfolio might include: 

  • certificates of course attendance  
  • copies of teaching completed 
  • feedback from teaching sessions 
  • copies of your publications 
  • slides from presentations you have delivered 
  • trainers’ reports 
  • log book of clinical activity 
  • audits 
  • written workplace assessments 

These are just some examples and should not be taken as an exhaustive list.  

Whatever you choose to include in your portfolio as evidence, it is important not to include any patient identifiable data or items/information that are not yours  (e.g.  someone else’s work or hospital guidelines). 

Further help 

(Click on the links)

Events and Societies

One of the best ways to explore your career options as a medic is to talk to doctors from the specialties in which you are interested. Your clinical placements clearly give you a fantastic opportunity to do just this, but you might also find it useful to look to build your networks through extra-curricular activities and events.  

You can find out about the challenges and the rewards of a particular area of work and gain tips about the training pathway and how to best prepare yourself for a career in a specialism. 

University societies can be a good way to engage with additional opportunities and you can often find conferences and other relevant activities provided by Royal Colleges. 

University societies 

Joining one of the university societies is a great way to get involved with extra-curricular studies, and choosing one which is linked to your course or career aims can prove particularly useful in terms of meeting like-minded people and opening up opportunities to network, learn and enhance your CV through activities such as trips, events and guest speakers.  

At Lincoln there are opportunities to join a range of medically orientated societies including MedSoc, General Practice, St. John Ambulance, Emergency care and more… and you can even look to set up your own society if what currently exists doesn’t fit what you’re looking for. To see the full list of available societies visit Lincoln SU online and for further information email .  

Royal Colleges and faculty events-

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (the Academy) is the coordinating body for the UK and Ireland’s 24 medical royal colleges and faculties. They ensure patients are safely and properly cared for by setting standards for the way doctors are educated, trained and monitored throughout their careers. 

The royal colleges and faculties have a number of events throughout the year to help medics with their continuing professional development (CPD). Some of them will be suitable for students at medical school, while others may be for more experienced professionals. 

The Royal Colleges:

Royal Colleges in Scotland and Ireland 


University Services and Tools for you

For part time jobs on campus. Find out more about Campus Jobs here; Campus Jobs


Our online portal where you can book events and view vacancies. Log on here;




Lincoln Students’ Union which has opportunities to get involved with volunteering. Look at opportunities here;Volunteering

The Lincoln Award is an employability framework designed to support, enhance and recognise extracurricular activity. Find out more here: Lincoln Award

The University of Nottingham runs an optional, extra curricular scheme to boost your personal skills and employability, called the Nottingham Advantage Award. Click the button for more information. The Nottingham Advantage Award


You will also find the ‘My Career’ tab on your moodle homepage which will link you to our online resources including:

  • GoinGlobal – for advice and information on working overseas
  • Interview simulator – to practice interview questions and review answers against employer hints and tips
  • CV builder – an interactive tool to piece together your CV
  • Cover letter builder – an interactive tool to piece together a cover letter


We continue to update and build this resource of online information for our Medical School students so please do get in touch to let us know what else you’d like to see on these pages. Our thanks go to our Careers & Employability colleagues at the University of Nottingham for their support with content for our pages.    


Our team of Careers & Employability professionals here at Lincoln are also here to help you with all of  your career planning and career development needs. Find out more about our services for students via the button below. Services for Students


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