When you’re training to be a doctor and you’re coming up to the end of your medical school education, there are multiple training pathways to choose from. Which option is best for you, depends on your circumstances, goals, and your learning style.

Pathways tend to change each year, with multiple different entry points to consider depending on each individual organisation. Following medical school, whether your course lasted for four or six years, you’ll eligible to apply for foundation training and have gained provisional GMC registration. Of course, some foundation programmes require certain speciality training pathways and may have required you to study another degree subject for a year alongside traditional medical school. This isn’t an essential step, but it can help to improve your career prospects, particularly if you have a certain medical field in mind that you would like to pursue.

Foundation years

If you’re preparing to enter foundation years, you need to apply this autumn to begin in the summer of 2019. It’s the most common step from medical school, lasting two years and aims to give you an opportunity to experience a range of medical or surgical specialities. It’s a chance to find which career path is the right option for you and where your interests lie.

Over the two years, you’ll experience between six and eight rotations. Foundation Year 1 enables you to begin supervised responsibility for patient care and to bring together the skills you’ve learnt during your time at medical school. By the end of year one, you should expect to obtain your full GMC registration. Foundation Year 2 builds on the skills learnt in the previous year, such as making management decision, but you’ll still remain under clinical supervision. On satisfactory completion, you’ll receive Foundation Programme Certificate of Completion (FPCC), formally known as the Foundation Achievement of Competency Document (FACD), which indicates you’re ready to enter a core, speciality, or general practice training programme.

Speciality training pathways

When it comes to your next training pathway, you’re free to choose your speciality, this will define whether you enter uncoupled training or run-through training programmes. Training programmes differ in length and structure depending on the area you’re focussing on if you choose to enter general practice the programme will last for three years, while other specialities can range between five and eight years.

Uncoupled training programmes – Uncoupled training programmes consist of core training and then entry into a higher speciality training. Core training is either two years, for core medical and surgical training, and three for core emergency medicine and psychiatry.

Run through training programmes – For a run through programme you apply once and are recruited for the entire duration. You begin with an overview of the speciality and gradually specialise more over the duration.


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