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Foundation level doctors

Welcome! We are delighted that you are considering a future career in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology.

This page provides you with all the information you need to help you make the most of the O&G opportunities available during your foundation years.

Recruitment into foundation training

After graduating with a medical degree, UK doctors typically spend two years working in various areas of medicine and surgery, both in hospital and community settings. This is known as foundation training. During this time, foundation doctors build on their clinical and professional skills, but are closely supervised and assessed. Foundation doctors may undertake a rotation in O&G.

Visit the foundation programme website and read the RCOG’s foundation training guide for more information.

Overseas graduates may apply for the foundation programme if their application has been approved by the UK Foundation Programme’s (UKFP) Eligibility Office. Please see further information on the UKFP eligibility application process here.

Following the foundation years, doctors can choose whether to go into speciality training or to apply for another post within O&G. Find out more about the variety of careers within O&G here.

If you would like to know more, we spoke with doctors in different roles about why they chose to work in O&G. You can hear from them about their career choices here: LINK

How do I get exposure to O&G in the foundation years?

O&G placement

Foundation year posts in O&G are available in most deaneries in Foundation Schools and they are well-suited for doctors seeking to gain the generic skills needed as part of the foundation programme curriculum, as well as helping you to develop skills that will be useful if you decide to pursue a career in O&G in the future.

Please note that undertaking an O&G placement as part of your foundation training is not a prerequisite for applying to the O&G specialty training programme; you will not be disadvantaged in the specialty recruitment process if you have not done such a placement. While a placement might help you to confirm your career choice and help you to demonstrate your enthusiasm for and commitment to the specialty, no previous postgraduate experience is required or expected, and your application and interview will be assessed according to foundation competencies.

Women’s health foundation module

You may choose to complete a women’s health foundation module during your foundation training. Please see our foundation training guide which provides a framework for trainees and trainers to help develop personal learning goals and assess learning outcomes during training related to women’s health. It is not part of the GMC-approved foundation curriculum and is intended as a guide for self-directed learning. You can use supervised learning events (DOPS, mini-CEX and CbD) to record learning in the areas outlined in the module.

Completion of the module is not mandatory and will not be used in the recruitment process for specialty training, although it can be used to demonstrate your enthusiasm for and commitment to O&G.

For more information, please visit the Foundation Programme website or contact the UK Foundation Programme Office.

Taster week

A “taster week”, which you can arrange with the department of O&G in your hospital, may be another way to increase exposure to the specialty at this stage. You may wish to consider this if you did not undertake an O&G placement as part of the Foundation Programme. Your local Foundation Director should be able to help.

Audits and QIPs

Getting involved with audits and/or Quality Improvement Projects (QIPs) during your foundation training is another great way to gain exposure to O&G.

Careers advice

Another way to find out if a career in O&G is right for you is to speak to others in the specialty. Your local trust will have a College Tutor in O&G who should be able to meet with you personally. Your region will have a School of O&G, which may include a careers lead who’ll also be able to give you advice. Talking to local doctors working in O&G will also be helpful.

Careers information is also available on deanery websites, the NHS specialty training website and the General Medical Council (GMC) website.

Foundation year 3

An increasing number of doctors are opting to take an additional year at foundation level following the two-year Foundation Programme, often referred to as foundation year 3 (FY3 or F3) or post-foundation training break (PFTB).

FY3 posts are included under the umbrella term ‘locally employed’. You can find out more about LED posts here. It is advisable to use the BMA checklist for locally employed doctors to ensure you have considered your options.

If you decide to take an additional year post-foundation training, it is worth considering what additional skills and experience you can gain during this time to help demonstrate your enthusiasm for and commitment to O&G. Whatever you choose to do, it is important to record your activities and reflect on how this has helped your professional development. Maintaining a portfolio could help you do this, and it also helps with career planning.

If you want to apply to the O&G specialty training programme, taking a year out will not affect your subsequent application. However, you need to ensure that your experience in O&G does not surpass the requirements for entry in your programme of choice. For example, the person specification and entry criteria for Obstetrics and Gynaecology ST1 recruitment specifies the maximum amount of experience in the specialty (not including foundation modules) by the time of intended start date.

Tips for applying to the specialty training programme

Your first priority should be to fulfil the requirements of your foundation training and develop the skills that will underpin your future practice. These include excellence in communication, team working, basic clinical competencies and quality improvement measures.

Beyond this, you should look for opportunities that demonstrate your interest in and commitment to the specialty. These may include:

  • Undertaking relevant audit projects (not necessarily in O&G, but with transferrable knowledge and skills)
  • Undertaking ‘taster’ activities in O&G
  • Attending relevant clinical sessions outside your normal working requirements
  • Developing transferrable clinical skills
  • Attending careers events, such as local careers fairs and local interview preparation sessions organised by your trust or region, and other RCOG events including careers events.
  • Submitting applications for RCOG prizes and awards 
  • Talking to ST1s in O&G about their experience (although the interview will change from year to year).
  • Preparing a foundation portfolio that highlights your strengths and achievements and reflects on your experience (this will be helpful, but may not be a formal requirement). Familiarise yourself with the person specification for specialty training and use this as a guide to develop your capabilities in preparation for your specialty application.
  • No specific courses are required before commencing specialty training, and you can complete all mandatory courses as part of your postgraduate training. However, undertaking relevant courses during foundation training can be a way of demonstrating enthusiasm for and commitment to the specialty. Examples include Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics and the Basic Practical Skills course.

You can find out more information on applying for the O&G specialty training at ST1 here.

BUSOG

The British Undergraduate Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BUSOG) is a national society that promotes the exciting and diverse specialty of obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) to medical students and pre-specialty doctors. They have a network of medical student and foundation doctor ambassadors across the country which are recruited annually. Getting involved with the BUSOG will help you to keep up to date with the specialty, and they’ll also provide support, advice and opportunities for you to explore and further your interests. The BUSOG website has a range of resources, including testimonies on clinical placements, electives and intercalated degrees as well as updates on O&G related research.

RCOG Membership for foundation doctors

There are different types of College membership available and anyone considering a career in O&G can benefit from a formal link to the College via one of these membership options. Find out more about the benefits of College membership here.

Careers events

The RCOG run events to supports thousands of doctors globally each year. We provide innovative, interactive and flexible learning models for all career stages including a careers day for doctors considering a career in O&G.

Discover upcoming events and courses here.

Awards, merits and prizes

The RCOG offers a selection of prizes and awards that foundation doctors can apply for, usually for an extra endeavor such as presenting a piece of investigative work or writing an essay. If you are thinking about a career in O&G, these awards are a great way to show that you’re interested in the specialty. You can add them to your CV and it will make you stand out from the crowd.

Find out about the RCOG’s awards and prizes.

What’s next?

Once you have finished the foundation programme, you can then choose whether to apply for the O&G specialty training programme or to apply for another post within O&G. Find out more about the variety of careers within O&G here.