Intended for healthcare professionals


Nearly half of trainees chose not to progress straight to specialty training in 2015

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 02 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6550
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. 1BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}

Nearly half of junior doctors chose not to enter specialty training immediately after completing their second year of foundation training (F2) in 2015.

The UK Foundation Programme Office’s 2015 F2 Career Destination survey shows that, in 2015, 48% of successful F2 doctors did not progress directly into specialty training.1 This equates to over 3400 trainees of the 7168 trainees who provided information on their career destinations.

The proportion of doctors going straight from F2 into specialty training has fallen repeatedly in recent years, from 71.6% in 2011, to 67.0% in 2012, 64.4% in 2013, 58.5% in 2014, and 52.0% in 2015.

Most of the trainees who did not enter specialty training took a career break (13.1% of the total), took a non-training (service) role in the UK (9.2%), or were seeking employment as a doctor in the UK (8.6%). Just over 6% of trainees had an appointment outside the UK, 4.3% were seeking employment as a doctor outside the UK, and 0.4% entered specialty training outside the UK.

The remaining trainees had taken a non-service role such as anatomy demonstrator (5.5%), taken a locum appointment for training in the UK (0.5%), or had left the profession (0.3%).

The survey received 7168 responses from 7533 foundation doctors who were due to complete their foundation training in August 2015, a 95% response rate.

The report was based on survey responses from all 25 UK foundation schools. Respondents comprised 6697 doctors completing the foundation programme and 471 completing the academic foundation programme.

It found that between 2011 and 2015 the number of doctors taking a career break rose by 8.5%. It said, “A targeted study would be required to understand the reasons for the increase in the proportion of doctors taking a career break following completion of the Foundation Programme.”

The survey showed that between 2011 and 2015 there had also been a year on year increase in the number of doctors who are still seeking employment in the UK at the time of completing the survey, equating to a 2.3% increase since 2011.

The survey compared the career intentions of the doctors at the start of their first year of foundation training and at the end of F2. At the beginning of F1, 60.6% of respondents intended to enter specialty training in the UK. This dropped to 52% at the end of F2.


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