Taking a Break? The Growing Trend of FY3: Why More Junior Doctors are Taking Time Out after the Foundation Programme and What They Elect to Do?

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Haseeb Moiz
Luke Hailston


There is a growing trend of UK doctors taking time out of clinical training following completion of the Foundation Programme. At a time when NHS services are facing unparalleled demand, considering the reasons why early career clinicians are deciding to delay entry into specialist training is paramount. Here, we describe some of the push and pull factors contributing to the “FY3” year phenomenon as well as the avenues doctors explore. Within the NHS, clinical fellowships can offer more flexibility in terms of rota and location compared to specialty training posts whilst also providing clinical experience and the chance to develop highly sought-after skills in teaching, research, and leadership. Similarly, locum rotas can be negotiated and usually offer significantly enhanced pay. Outside of the NHS, healthcare systems in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada actively seek out UK doctors, incentivising them with better work–life balance, increased pay, and improved working conditions, leading many doctors who had intended to return to the NHS to stay abroad. Doctors are also becoming increasingly aware of their transferable skills and the value they can bring to non-clinical roles in the pharmaceutical industry, management consulting, and medical law. Although the FP was originally introduced to address issues surrounding career progression and poor training experiences, current push factors for taking an “FY3” including increasing competition for specialty training posts, an imbalance towards service provision versus training, and high workload suggest systemic issues within the UK health service are undermining this aim and ultimately leading doctors to take time out of training.

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