Intended for healthcare professionals

Student BMJ Student

What can I do during an F3 year?

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: (Published 24 November 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4372
  1. Zoe Li, core surgical trainee1,
  2. Kerran Kandola, GP academic clinical fellow trainee2,
  3. Maya Zosmer, internal medicine trainee3
  1. 1Morriston Hospital, Heol Maes Eglwys, Morriston, Swansea SA6 6NL, UK
  2. 2Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London NW3 2QG, UK
  3. 3North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, London N18 1QX, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Z Li wy.zoeli{at}

More doctors than ever are opting to take a year or more out of medical training after their Foundation training. A group of junior doctors outline some of the options for taking an F3 year, and give some tips from their experiences.

In 2018, more than 60% of Foundation Year 2 (F2) doctors opted not to progress immediately to specialty training.1 To take a year or more out of training after completion of the Foundation Programme is commonly referred to as the “F3 year.” In this article we explore the range of options available and address some frequently asked questions on the F3 year.

General advice

It can be helpful to plan your F3 year early in the Foundation Programme to aid preparation with documents and application deadlines, but be mindful that how you wish to spend your F3 year may change as you progress through foundation training. Many opportunities are available for a rewarding F3 year, so don’t worry if you are unable to plan it in advance (box 1).

Box 1

Options for the F3 year

  • Travelling

  • Spending time with family and friends

  • Hobbies and personal interests

  • Working abroad

  • Volunteering in the UK or abroad

  • Service provision posts and ad hoc locum work

  • Research

  • Study for postgraduate exams

  • Postgraduate qualifications

  • Explore career options:

    • Alternative non-medical careers

    • Other clinical specialties

    • Subspecialties such as expedition medicine

  • Activities to strengthen CV:

    • Audit and quality improvement projects

    • Teaching

    • Leadership programmes

  • Keep your professional subscriptions up to date with your training status—the BMA and other organisations may offer reduced fees if your income is below a certain threshold.

  • Consider whether you wish to apply for further training during your F3 year, as application and interview dates need to be taken into account, particularly if you are going overseas.

  • Keep your portfolio up to date during your Foundation Programme and F3 …

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