The deaneries have been released; final year medical students across the country are sitting their final exams of medical school, or heading off to sunnier climes for their electives.
One vital job remains: ranking your choices for the jobs you will rotate through in your two years on the foundation programme. With some deaneries having over 500 jobs to rank, how can busy final years approach this considerable undertaking? Read on for some tips on how to make the most of your application ranking.
Know your preferences
Before you begin looking at the jobs that are available to you, consider making a list of what is important to you. Are you in a position where you need to stay in a certain location for the whole two years, or can you be flexible with your location? Do you prefer to live in a city or more rurally? Are there any jobs in particular you would like to work – or any you would rather avoid? It’s important that you have a good idea of what your needs are before you begin looking for jobs that match those needs.
Know your deadline
Each deanery will provide a different deadline for ranking jobs – make sure you have your rankings done by the deadline.
Know your spreadsheet
Most deaneries will supply the job lists as Excel spreadsheets or similar. Make sure you play around with the information before you start making any decisions – most lists will have filter functions that will allow you to view, for instance, all jobs in a certain hospital, or all job rotations that contain particular jobs, such as work in the community or general practice..
You can also make your own spreadsheets that separate the jobs by location, specific jobs or any other variables if this makes it easier to manage the large numbers.
Have an approach
Everyone will have different preferences in how to split up the jobs available to them. Previous applicants have used various numeric scales to assist them in making their decisions – for instance, by allocating each set of jobs a numerical value between one and ten, and ranking based on these scores. Alternatively, you could have a rule out system where you automatically rank certain rotations bottom based on your individual preferences, in order to cut down the volume of jobs you need to individually rank.
Don’t worry too much about specialty
If you already have your heart set on a specialty, that’s great, and you may want to consider ranking jobs that contain a rotation in your chosen specialty more highly. However, it’s important to note that all Royal Colleges state that not having a foundation rotation in a specialty should not disadvantage applications for specialty training. There will also be other opportunities to gain exposure to specific specialties, such as taster days and weeks or events hosted by the Royal Colleges.
Be flexible (if you can)
It is almost inevitable that you will have to make sacrifices in some areas in order to secure others. Go back to your list of preferences. Which variables are non-negotiable and which could you be more flexible on?
Remember that even if you are disappointed with the jobs you are allocated, there may be opportunities to swap throughout the year, and inter-deanery transfers are available at the end of FY1. Remember that you have spent five or six years studying to qualify as a doctor – and foundation years are only two! No matter where you get placed; and which jobs you do, you will have the opportunity to learn, gain new skills and, most importantly, help your patients.
Want to find out more about what your first ever junior doctor contract will entail? Click here to access our free Junior Doctors Contract, devised and written by experienced junior doctors Dr Emma Cox and Dr Vidushi Golash.
Visit our F-Docs homepage for video courses targeted for learning during your foundation years.