Year 1

Year 1

In year 1, you should use the opportunity to discuss career options with your academic advisor to find out about the different career paths and specialities that are available to you for example in general practice (GP), medical and surgical specialities. You can also start thinking about medical education and academic career paths.

You should complete an annual career planning reflective form on your eportfolio. You may already have an idea of what you might want to specialise in after you graduate but don’t be surprised if this changes over time depending on your exposure to different specialities throughout the medical programme.

Prospects provides an overview of the skills gained throughout your degree, job options, career areas, further study, case studies, contacts and resources.

The Employability & Graduate Futures Team can provide support for your employability journey throughout your course and after you graduate by providing informed, expert and professional advice.

Watch our webinar on Career Planning.

Clinical Years (Year 2 to 4)

Clinical Years (Year 2 to 4)

In Transitional, Penultimate and Final Year you will be exposed to a number of different specialties. During these placements you should use the opportunity to speak to junior doctors and clinical placement supervisors about their career paths and how and why they decided on their specialties. These discussions are extremely helpful for when you start looking at the options that are available to you for your foundation year applications.

For some foundation schools you may have the option of selecting specific placement specialties to work in according to your career aspirations.

Top Tips for Career Planning:

  • Reflecting on your skills, interests and experiences. What are your strengths and weaknesses. What motivates you. Get feedback from your peers, academic advisor and the doctors you meet on placements. Complete your career aspirations eportfolio.
  • Researching your options. Look at speciality websites for more information and speak to doctors doing the speciality you are interested in. Attend career fairs and think carefully about your Student Selected Components (SSC) of your training. Choosing your SSCs wisely to explore in more detail what career options you may be interested in.
  • During your clinical placements you have the best opportunities to reflect on your clinical experiences. What you enjoyed, the positives and negatives of a specialty and your own strengths and weaknesses. Keep an open mind and talk to as many people as possible to refine your interests and explore your career options.

Start planning and making preparation

There are a number of things you can do as a medical student that can set you up to be as competitive as possible for when you apply for your specialty posts to give you the best possible chance of success. Activities inside and outside of your course will develop your skills. Find out what your speciality requires and evaluate yourself against these requirements to identify any gaps you may need to address. Write and update your CV. You should consider getting involved in opportunities that would make you competitive and attractive for speciality applications.

These include:

  • Think about publishing abstracts or papers from your SSC projects, SSCs 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.
  • Consider applying for prizes awarded by the medical school or Royal Colleges. 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. See list of potential options in Awards & Prizes section below.
  • Apply for Summer Studentships to give you tasters of research and opportunities to write abstracts and publications. Examples include QUB and BALR
  • Become a student representative on the medical course, other university committees or externally eg the BMA
  • Get involved in University societies
  • Take part in extra curricular activities eg sporting or music which help develop your transferable skills and also focus on a healthy work life balance
  • During clinical placement talk to doctors about pros and cons of the speciality and offer to help with any quality improvement or audit projects
  • Choose your F year Elective carefully to maximise experience and development of skills that may benefit speciality applications. It can offer you an opportunity to explore your career options.
  • Volunteering in healthcare and non-healthcare settings

Medical Student Awards & Prizes

Throughout your medical training and career, you will encounter various opportunities to compete for medical prizes and awards. These competitions are typically organised by medical research and training organisations, specialty groups, charities, or educational institutions focused on specific areas of medicine.

The topics and types of awards vary, as do the levels of effort and original research needed to qualify.

Foundation Training

Foundation Training

The UK Foundation programme (UKFP)

Once you graduate from medical school you will enter the UK foundation programme (FP). The Foundation Programme is a two-year, work-based training programme which is intended to bridge the gap between medical school and Specialty/General Practice training. The Foundation Programme is part of the continuum of medical education. It ensures that newly qualified doctors develop their clinical and professional skills in the workplace in readiness for Core, Specialty, or General Practice training. The Foundation Programme aims to ensure that all doctors deliver safe and effective patient care and aspire to excellence in their professional development in accordance with General Medical Council (GMC) guidance.

Two-year training programmes are designed to ensure all foundation doctors undergo a balanced programme, which enables them to meet the competences and outcomes set by the GMC as described in the Foundation Programme (FP) Curriculum

Find out more information and get support, watch our Foundation Training Application webinar.

UK Foundation Programme Medical Intern Ireland
Specialty Training

Specialty Training

After completing foundation training you would decide on your career path and there are many directions you can take. There are many options available to you including

  • A foundation year 3 post that gives you a further year of exposure to different specialities and a little more time to think about your options.
  • General Practise run through training
  • Internal Medicine stage 1 training
  • Core surgical training
  • Clinical Academic Training pathway
  • Acute Care Common Stem training (ACCS)
  • Decide to not enter a training pathway and do locum, staff grade posts or work abroad

The BMA offers guidance on choosing your medical speciality.

Specialty Training

  • Medical Postgraduate Training

    The Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board (JRCPTB) is responsible for Internal Medicine training and 30 medical specialties and three sub-specialties.  It is divided into group 1 specialties with dual training in the speciality and internal medicine and group 2 specialities only.

    Group 1 specialties: Acute Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Endocrinology & Diabetes Mellitus, Gastroenterology, Genitourinary Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Infectious Diseases (except when dual with Medical Microbiology or Virology), Neurology, Palliative Medicine, Renal Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Rheumatology and Tropical Medicine (except when dual with Medical Microbiology or Virology).

    Hear from Speciality and internal medicine experts

    Group 2 specialties: Allergy, Audiovestibular Medicine, Aviation & Space Medicine, Clinical Genetics, Clinical Neurophysiology, Dermatology, Haematology, Immunology, Infectious Diseases (when dual with Medical Microbiology or Virology), Medical Oncology, Medical Ophthalmology, Nuclear Medicine, Paediatric Cardiology, Pharmaceutical Medicine, Rehabilitation Medicine, Sport and Exercise Medicine, Tropical Medicine (when dual with Medical Microbiology or Virology).

    Hear from Speciality and internal medicine experts

  • Surgical Postgraduate Training

    The Royal College of Surgeons of England have developed a career booklet for surgery that gives you more information about the training pathway in surgery.

  • Clinical Academic Training 

    A clinical academic is a qualified healthcare professional who also works in academia, typically in research, teaching, or both. They balance their time between treating patients, conducting research that contributes to the scientific understanding of their field, and training the next generation of clinicians. Every clinical academic post is different, depending on the specialism, experience, and interests of the individual.

    You can find more information on the Clinical Academic Training Hub.

    A clinical academic career starts with the Specialised Foundation Programme in your Foundation years. The Specialised Foundation Programme (SFP) (previously known as Academic Foundation Programme) provides an opportunity for foundation doctors to develop research, teaching and leadership/management skills in addition to the competences outlined in the Foundation Programme Curriculum.

    After the Specialised Foundation Programme, doctors usually enter the training pathways of the National Institute for Health Research while continuing to work in both clinical and academic roles.

    Unlike in the rest of the UK, there is no formal integrated clinical academic pathway in Northern Ireland. However, the core training roles of Academic Clinical Fellow, Academic Clinical Lecturer, and the Academic Foundation Programme are all offered in broadly the same way as in England, Wales, and Scotland.

    Clinical academic training in Northern Ireland is overseen by The Clinical Academic Training Programme Board (CATP), which is made up of members from Queens, Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA).

    The Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) post in Northern Ireland usually run for two years. During this period it is expected that trainees will complete ST3 or above (ST1 or above in General Practice).

    ACF posts usually consist of 25% research time in the specialty to which they are appointed. A trainee in an ACF post will be expected to prepare an application for an externally funded clinical research training fellowship to undertake a PhD.

  • Acute Care Common Stem training (ACCS)

    Acute Care Common Stem (ACCS) training is a broad-based training programme for post-FY2 doctors that gives trainees experience in Emergency Medicine, Acute Medicine, Anaesthetics, and Intensive Care Medicine. The aim is to give trainees a broader understanding of all things acute while offering more flexibility to change career direction down the line.

    Training is made up of three separate programmes – ACCS EM (Emergency Medicine), ACCS Anaes (Anaesthetics), and ACCS IM (Internal Medicine – previously known as ACCS AM for Acute Internal Medicine). All three programmes share the same curriculum and rotations for the first 2 years, then diverge for the final 1-2 years to fulfil the training requirements of their respective specialties.

    The first two years of training are the same across all three programmes:

    • Emergency Medicine – 6 months
    • Acute Medicine – 6 months
    • Anaesthetics – 6 months
    • Intensive Care Medicine – 6 months

    The programmes then diverge into training for their respective specialties for a further 1-2 years.

  •  General Practice Training 

    GP training is a 3 year programme. The Royal College of GPs develops and publishes the GP Curriculum which describes the capabilities and assessments that must be delivered over the three-year period.

    Hear from Speciality and internal medicine experts

  • Anaesthetics Training

    Trainees can apply for the UK Anaesthesia Training Programme which consists of:

    • Stage 1 Anaesthetic or ACCS training
    • Stage 2 Anaesthetics training
    • Stage 3 Anaesthetics training

    Hear from  experts in this area