Approximately half of Foundation trainees choose to take a year out of training. There are any number of reasons that people make this decision from exciting travel plans to CV enhancing opportunities. Often it is just because, after five or six years of medical school and two years as a junior doctor, trainees feel like they need a break.
Despite the vast number of junior doctors taking an “FY3” year, there are limited, structured opportunities and it is very much down to you to decide what you want to do. If improving your application is the main aim of your “FY3” year, remember, that applications run across winter so anything you want to do to enhance your application will need to be done in the first half of your “FY3” year.
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Many trainees do some locum work during their “FY3” year. This may be in a department you have worked for during your Foundation training – if this is what you are interested in make sure they know early on that you will be available.
As well as ‘ad hoc’ locums, you will see adverts for LAT and LAS posts. LAT posts are Locum Appointment for Training posts. These posts are vacant training posts in GMC approved training placements, they will include all the educational elements of a training post. LAS posts are Locum Appointment for Service posts. These posts are not training posts, you will have clinical supervision to ensure patient safety but without other opportunities associated with training posts.
LAT and LAS posts are advertised on an open market basis but different Trusts will advertise in different places. So it is worth making sure that any relevant hospital departments know you are available and ask medical staffing where they advertise their Trust posts.
Some more structured opportunities do exist. These often, but not always, combine academic/research/teaching with some clinical work. Sometimes they are run by universities and some Trusts also run fellowship posts. Again, these posts are advertised on the job market and you will need to apply directly for each post.
Something completely different
If you are looking to do something more innovative or unexpected with your medical degree, this is an obvious chance in your training to take a chance on something completely different. Medic Footprints is a good resource to give you some ideas if you have none of your own. Bear in mind that a year will likely go past quite quickly so do not leave your planning until too late to take full advantage or your year. This is often particularly the case for anyone hoping to do something a bit different.
Applying after an “FY3” year
It is so common for trainees to take a year out of training that it is not going to count against you at interview. However, do be ready to answer a question about how your experiences will contribute to you as a doctor in training in your chosen specialty.
Remember that your application for specialty training may intrude upon your plans for your “FY3” year if you are planning on travelling. You will not be able to take part in your selection centre interview from another country. These interviews take place from January to March and you may only be given a few days’ notice of the date.