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BMJ's Guide To Planning Your F3 Year

Published on: 13 Aug 2022

F3 Options Explained

What is an F3 year? 

A foundation year 3 (F3) is a colloquial term referring to junior doctors who have completed their foundation programme but have not transitioned to another formal training programme. This article will explore F3 year ideas and F3 year medicine options.


F3 Training: 

It is important to note that since F3 doctors are not in a formal training programme they do not have access to study leave or study budget covered by their deanery. This year can be used to get more experience in a speciality you are interested in but it should be noted that they cannot be used as competencies to shorten core/run-through training programmes in the future. 


Pros and Cons of F3: 



  • Boost CV 

  • Explore career options 

  • Boost skills 

  • Work abroad

  • Volunteer 

  • Job/financial security may be decreased depending on how you spend your F3 year. 

  • Visa problems 

  • Personal circumstances 

  • Added year before gaining CCT.  


Planning an F3 Year: 

In order to gain the most out of it, it is best to start thinking about your F3 options early, especially if working abroad is on your mind. Some options include: 

  • Clinical fellowships

  • Teaching fellowships 

  • Working abroad 

  • Higher education 

  • Anatomy demonstrator 

  • Volunteering

Teaching Fellowships: for those interested in teaching, depending on the post, you may gain a postgraduate certificate (PGCert) in Medical Education. Teaching is usually aimed at first to fifth year medical students with clinical commitments optional depending on preference. 

Anatomy Demonstrators: typically teaching year 1 and year 2 medical students. This can be an option to those wanting to pursue a speciality that is anatomy heavy such as surgery or radiology. 

Clinical Speciality Fellow: this option is useful if you have chosen a speciality and would like to boost your CV to enhance chances for future training posts. The time spent in the speciality will enhance your skills and give you time to partake in audits and research projects. 

Working Abroad: this requires plenty of organisation. Deciding on your destination early is key. Some elements you may want to consider are visas, accommodation, medical registration and costs. New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States are among the most popular destinations for UK doctors. 

Volunteering: there are opportunities to volunteer with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or with Medicins Sans Frontier (MSF). 

Locum: Locum work in an F3 year has pros and cons. It provides the most flexibility in terms of working days and time off as you choose your shifts. It can also offer exposure to many specialties and hospitals.  However, due to the nature of work involved, financial stability requires proactive effort to ensure shifts are booked. Shifts can be cancelled last minute from both sides meaning that locum work can be unpredictable at times.  

As a result of the variety of work that can be done during your F3 year there is no pre-set F3 doctor salary. This will be dependent on the type of work you decide to do as well as the location. 

It is important to check the clinical responsibilities attached to these roles as advertised on the job posting as they may differ between sites and deaneries. 


F3 Year Appraisal:

Appraisal during F3 year is required and consists of six parts. These are Continuing Professional Development (CPD), quality improvement activity, significant events, feedback from patients, feedback from colleagues and compliments/complaints. 

Finding your designated body/responsible officer for your appraisal will differ depending on what you do during your F3 year. Typically, if you are with an agency, they will do the appraisal for you and trusts will have appraisal teams for bank doctors but it is best to check with your organisations. 



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  4. Guide to F3. 2021. Appraisals. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 July 2021].