Author: Dr Rhiannon Jones
What is the Foundation Programme?
After graduating from University with a medical degree, you enrol on to the ‘Foundation Programme.’ This is a two year programme, and it is the first time you are paid and work as a doctor! The first year is called ‘Foundation Year One’ or ‘FY1.’ The second year is called ‘Foundation Year Two’ or ‘FY2.’ Each year comprises of three, four-month placements in different specialities.
Before starting medical school, I knew very little about being a Foundation Year Doctor. Having an understanding of what this means will help prepare you for life after medical school and what to expect from the first couple of years working as a doctor.
Applying for the Foundation Programme
You apply for the Foundation Programme in the final year of medical school. When you apply, you can choose where in the United Kingdom you want to work. Later on, you have the option of ranking rotations which include different specialities.
Medical students ranking
Every medical student in the United Kingdom is ranked against each other. This ranking system takes into account results from the ‘Situational Judgement Test,’ (SJT) which you sit in December of the final year, and your academic achievements whilst at medical school. The SJT exam comprises 50% of your overall score, with the remainder from academic achievements/grades.
Certain locations in the United Kingdom require a higher rank as it is more competitive because more students want to work in these areas. For example, in London deaneries, it is very competitive, so if you want to work here as a doctor, you need to perform well in medical school and on the SJT exam to have a good overall rank.
Foundation Programme Rotations
When selecting certain rotations for FY1 and FY2, this ranking score will be used again. If another student with a higher rank than you states they would like the same rotation as you, they will get this rotation instead of you.
Foundation Programme Basics
Foundation Programme specialities
During Foundation Years, there are many specialities you can work in. As an example, my jobs were:
FY1: Anaesthetics and Urology. Acute and General medicine. Cardiology.
FY2: General Practice. Trauma and Orthopaedics. Accident and Emergency.
Note that at this stage in your career, you are not allowed to specialise. The aim is to develop a broad knowledge in many different areas of medicine that will enable you to make an informed decision about which speciality to pursue. Most rotations include general practice or psychiatry and include at least one medical and one surgical speciality.
Salary and holiday during the Foundation Programme
In FY1, you earn roughly £27,000 annually, and in FY2, you earn roughly £32,000. You start paying off your student loan, monthly, depending on how much you are earning and how much you owe.
Contracts are constantly changing and updating; however, for my year, we were allocated 9 annual leave days per rotation. (27 each year) You have some say in when to take these days, but you cannot take annual leave on some shifts, for example when on-call. You can sometimes swap shifts with other FY doctors to enable you to take annual leave on days you were meant to be on-call.
Provisional license and Full license to practice medicine
There are some differences between working as an FY1 and an FY2 doctor. As an FY1, you have a ‘provisional license to practice medicine’ with the General Medical Council. You have to effectively pass the year to be granted with a ‘full license to practice medicine’ and to progress to FY2.
Restrictions of the Provisional license to practice medicine
Because you have a ‘provisional’ license to practice, there are certain restrictions that are put in place to ensure you are working safely. Depending on hospital trusts, you are not allowed to request certain scans. For example, I couldn’t request MRI scans as an FY1. As an FY1, you are meant to have supervision when prescribing medications.
You are also expected to ask more questions and have more supervision on the wards.
 Information on junior doctor wages can be found at: https://www.bma.org.uk/pay-and-contracts/pay/junior-doctors-pay-scales/pay-scales-for-junior-doctors-in-england
What I wish I’d known before starting medical school.
Virtual Work Experience Week
This course is a week-long online course covering all the preparation elements a student needs when applying to medical school.
Topic: Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Medical Student?
Date: Wednesday 25th November 2020
Time: 7pm (BST)
Virtual Work Experience Week – get medical work experience from home.
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