Final year medical students: tips on how to rank your foundation year jobs

Grads Corner
01 August 2017 | Grads Corner | Guest Author

One of the most stressful aspects of being a final year medical student (apart from finals that is!) is ranking your foundation jobs. The decisions you make at this stage in your career will affect which part of the country you live in for the next few years and in many cases, which area of medicine you end up specialising in. It's therefore vital that you take the time to do the research and make those decisions properly. Hopefully these tips will make the process a little easier!

Rank all the jobs, not just the top few

Foundation job applications are a competitive national process so it's important you are realistic about your chances of securing your 1st choice location and job. A big mistake many medics make is only putting thought into their top 10 or so choices. When your goal is to live in London, trying to decide whether Scotland or Yorkshire and Humber should be your 21st choice can be difficult, and you may be tempted to choose at random. However, if you don't score as highly as you hoped, you may quickly regret not researching which of the two is the best for you.

Be open-minded about your location

London is always the most competitive location to live in but that doesn't necessary mean you will have the best time there. I can think of numerous colleagues and friends who ranked London highly but ended up in places like Newcastle, Liverpool etc. and they loved it. Many of them have moved there permanently. As a doctor in the NHS your pay is similar wherever you are in the country but your money will go much further outside of London, particularly if you go up north. It's worth baring this in mind when ranking locations.

Think about the order of jobs in your rotation

For some people the order of the jobs in each rotation is inconsequential. However, for others it can have a major impact on their lives. For example, if you are planning a wedding or something similar, it's probably worth trying to make it coincide with your GP placement instead of your A&E placement, due to the unsociable nature of the latter. However, if this doesn't workout don't fret too much, just ensure you are organised and get all your leave requests in early.

All jobs are not made equal

It pays to do some research into the jobs you are ranking. Being the general surgery FY1 in one hospital may be very different to the same job elsewhere. Ask friends in the year above for advice and look online for reviews about individual hospitals.

Don't worry if you don't get what you want

Since foundation job selection is a competitive process there is a good chance you won't get exactly what you want. Don't let this get you down too much though, remember it's only two years and in some places you have the option to swap jobs with colleagues in a similar position. You will get out of the foundation programme what you put in and you may find that the job you were dreading turns out to be far better than you were expecting.


Alex is a surgical trainee working in an NHS hospital in London. He is also co-founder of MediBuddy (www.medibuddy.co.uk), a website made by doctors, for doctors that aims to use technology and the internet to assist with the difficult task of applying for training jobs.

"If you need anymore information please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you."

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