Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus

Beyond foundation programmes

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 06 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:s187
  1. Rhona MacDonald, Editor of Career Focus
  1. careerfocus{at} tel: +44 (0)20 7387 4499

Pathology, “is the fundamental basis of medicine and surgery,” according to the vice president of the Royal College of Pathologists, a specialist registrar in forensic pathology, and a research fellow in transfusion medicine (p 187). But before you dismiss this bold statement as being understandably biased, consider the fact that UK pathologists are involved in about 70% of all diagnoses. Despite this, fewer medical students are currently considering careers in the pathology specialties, which is why we have devoted the next four pages to outlining what is involved in this fascinating area. However, a better way to expose pathology to young doctors is through experience: the royal college of pathologists have proposed that at least 10% of all second year foundation programmes should include “an element of pathology”.

But it is what happens after foundation programmes in all specialties that is the current hot topic and several recent events and press releases have made this a bit clearer. It looks like there may be a “national matching scheme” where trainees will be eligible to apply for a number of specialty areas on a “preference” basis after their two year foundation programme. Future pilots will be looking at introducing fast track training programmes for trainees certain of their intended career patch, offering “broad base” specialty training programmes for trainees looking for more experience in a particular specialty area, and developing a set of core competencies in the first part of specialty training that would allow trainees to move into another area without having to begin their training from scratch-more of this later in future Career Focus features.

And last week, the Royal College of Surgeons of England announced that it would be starting a new competency based curriculum in 2007 which will “recognise excellence rather than reward time-serving” but will work only if “trainers and trainees are given enough time in the workplace to learn.” Let the games begin.

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