Foundation Doctors

Information on career planning and where to start

Choosing the right specialty as a junior doctor is a daunting and time-consuming process. Fortunately there are many resources now available to help you through the career planning process.

The internet

The new medical careers website provides a structured and organised way to think about choosing a career. takes you through the 4-stage process provides self-assessment tools for you to use and has links to many other resources needed for the whole career planning process. This is an excellent resource.


The ROADS to Success – A practical approach to career planning for medical students, foundation trainees (and their supervisors)" by Caroline Elton and Joan Reid. This is an excellent book written by career specialists at the KSS Deanery again guiding you through the 4-stage process. Joan Reid is also part of the NHS medical careers workforce.

There are a number of other self-help books available in the library, including:

“So you want to be a Brain Surgeon” 3rd Revised edition, Oxford University Press 
“Build your own Rainbow” by Barrie Hopson & Mike Scally 

Career exploration

A good knowledge of all your possible specialty choices is vital before you make your final decision. All apects of the specialty should be considered, including whether it will provide the balance in your work-life balance and the competitiveness and type of training. Not all of you will have the chance to spend time working in the specialties you are considering however, through good career exploration you can discover whether you are suited to a particular specialty. 


All the Royal Colleges have information about training and working in their speciaity. Links to all the royal colleges are available on a number of websites:

Royal colleges also have open days for those interested in pursuing the specialty. has many articles about working in different specialties. has information about training in different specialties and has all the specialty person specifications available for you to assess whether you have the right skills for the specialty. It also provides information on competition ratios.

Informational interviewing

It is important to speak to as many people within your possible specialty choice as possible. Each specialist will have their own personal view on the specialty. These conversations range from informal “coffee-room” chats to organised meetings with time set aside with the specialist. To get as much as possible from these conversations it is important to be clear what information you want, but also to listen carefully to other points the specialist may make that you had not considered. 

Deciding on a specialty

For many this will be the hardest part of the process and people make decisions in different ways. Exercises for helping you come to a decision are included in “the ROADS to Success” and on the medical careers website 

It is important to discuss your decision with your Educational Supervisor to ensure that it fulfils the “Roads” criteria for a good career decision:

R – Realistic: Are you being realistic about yourself and the demands of the job?
O – Opportunities: Have you given serious consideration to all the opportunities available?
A – Anchors: Have you built in the things that provide support in your life?
D – Development: Do your choices fully develop your potential?
S – Stress: Have you considered the aspects of work that create stress for you?

You can also learn more about specialties via taster days

CVs and Applications

Knowing how and when to apply well in advance is vitally important. The MMC website provides all the information regarding timing of applications. The application process changes each year and this information is updated on the MMC website along with guidance for the process. You should also check deanery and College websites so you are clear to whom you will need to apply and the format the application process will take for your chosen specialty.

Preparation for completing the application form should start well in advance of the start of annual recruitment. Seniors who have been through the process most recently can give you a lot of vital tips and advice. Some good sources of advice for preparing yourself for completing the application include:
“The ROADS to Success” – A practical approach to career planning for medical students, foundation trainees (and their supervisors) “by Caroline Elton and Joan Reid, Chapter on Plan Implementation.

The medical careers website link:

One to one career guidance

There will be some of you who may wish to seek further advice on your career decisions. Further help can be obtained from the Career Guidance Tutor, Dr  Susannah Jenkin, Consultant Nephrologist, based at GRH. To arrange a meeting please contact Marion Thompson, Foundation Programme Coordinator,  or Telephone: 0300 422 6727.

The Severn Deanery also provides the career development service which can offer one-to-one confidential meetings,