All UK medical school graduates are required to complete a two-year foundation programme, a salaried training programme which is designed to equip them with the generic clinical and professional skills they will need in the changing world of medicine. Towards the end of the foundation programme they are expected to consider and apply to medical specialties.
The foundation programme structure
The first year of foundation training (F1) typically consists of three, four-month placements – in medicine, surgery and another specialty. It is designed to enable doctors to meet the standards required for full registration with the General Medical Council (GMC). Doctors gain competences in core clinical skills, as well as other professional skills such as teamwork and communication.
In the second year of foundation (F2) doctors continue to develop and consolidate clinical competences, at the same time exploring their career options. It is typically made up of three four-month placements, possibly including opportunities to gain experience in a shortage specialty, general practice and/or academic medicine. They may also apply for one-week ‘taster’ placements in additional specialties, which give trainees the opportunity to try out a number of different specialties before making their career decision.
F1 doctors are entitled to up to three hours per week of protected, bleep-free time set aside for a timetabled learning programme as part of the working week. F2 doctors may also receive three hours a week of formal education that is similarly protected and bleep-free.