Intended for healthcare professionals


A guide for final year medical students: transitioning to foundation training during the covid-19 pandemic

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 18 October 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n2287

Read our latest coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

  1. Prasanti Alekhya Kotta, foundation year 2 doctor1,
  2. Madhivanan Elango, foundation year 2 doctor2
  1. 1Department of Medicine, St Thomas’ Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Medicine, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: P A Kotta alekhyakp95{at}

As a result of the covid-19 pandemic, many of you will have missed out on first hand clinical experience, contact with patients, electives abroad, and rotations in some specialties.1 As such you might be feeling overwhelmed, unprepared, and anxious about the prospect of starting your first job as a foundation doctor.2

It can be difficult at the best of times, but this is an especially challenging period to join the workforce as you might be required to manage patients with covid-19 and work under increased pressure as the NHS deals with the backlog of care created by the pandemic.3

This article aims to guide final year medical students whose clinical training has been affected by the covid-19 pandemic to prepare for their transition to foundation training—from discussing what to focus on during the final months of a placement to providing useful resources and suggestions to prepare you for dealing with covid-19.

Learning on the wards

Many of you will have a medical school placement, roughly spanning a few weeks, called an apprenticeship or transition to foundation training placement. During this time you will be buddied with a foundation year doctor and work on the wards under close supervision. At the start of the placement, meet with your buddy to discuss your goals: the aim should be to get hands-on experience and find out what is expected from a foundation year 1 doctor. Box 1 contains a list of tasks you should practise, such as becoming familiar with ward rounds, assessing and managing common clinical conditions, managing jobs during the day, practising clinical and communication skills, and prescribing.

Box 1

Tasks to practise during a final medical school placement

Ward round tasks

  • Prepare ward round entries: record the latest blood tests and observations, make a list of problems, mention in the notes any updates on referrals and overnight events, and update the medications list. During the …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription