It’s around this time of year that F2s start to really consider what they plan to do after F2. This is also the time in the year when specialty applications are submitted. Those that are lucky enough to have known exactly what they wanted to do since they were 12 don’t have any difficulties with choosing and applying for their specialties. For me, it’s never been that clear.

There were specialties that were a No from the get-go. There were specialties that I felt more drawn to like paediatrics but upon completing a placement I’d realise that they weren’t for me. So, by a process of elimination, I subconsciously and consciously  whittled it down to a few options. A&E being one of the few, which is fortunate as I have this placement coming up.

To be honest, it’s beginning to feel like I’ve been holding out for A&E, like a sort of saving grace. I’m hoping for that eureka moment, the dawning realisation that I’ve found what I want from life, that missing puzzle piece that will sustain me until retirement. Obviously, the clouds will part, allowing a beam of sunshine to hit me like a spotlight. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think I’ll do the placement, I may even enjoy certain aspects of it, but eventually the mounting exhaustion of irregular shift patterns, manoeuvring the complicated bureaucracy of the four hour wait plus the incoming strain that winter always seems to surprise us with, will eventually tire me. I might be wrong. I’m just sceptical that any joy will be enough to squash the growing level of doubt and cynicism.

But now I’m at a crossroad and a decision needs to be made. Do I put an application forward or do I sit on my hands, allow the deadline to pass and ultimately choose to not go onto a training programme?  A few people have suggested another option, option C, to put in an application, experience the process and then back out. I’m not keen on that idea.

I doubt I’ll be applying for specialty training as it stands, A&E or otherwise. And though initially that made me feel slightly nervous, attending the ACW 2017 event this past weekend has put me in a different headspace. Speaking to a whole range of medics who were experiencing varying levels of frustration was intense but it was also refreshing to listen to doctors who had created new careers for themselves.

Which makes me feel really hopeful for life after F2. The realisation that if I choose to not apply then I can pretty much do what I want. It sounds a lot like Freedom.

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  1. Don’t apply unless you know what you want to do. The application involves time, money, effort, and to go through alllll of that, only to back out at the last minute or decide not to take up an offer is a waste of time. Even if you applied just for the sake of applying, cause everyone else is doing it, and you accepted an offer for something you felt you could tolerate, not like, is a mistake – when the reality of training sets in, and all that comes with it – long hours, rota gaps. bureaucracy and what not, justifying why you are where you are becomes harder and harder to do the longer you stay there.

    If I might humbly suggest:

    Take an F3 year.

    Maybe an F4 too.

    Keep going to all those medic footprint events and the like, try to stay in touch with one or two who attend, opportunities come most open through contacts, people, more than anything else.

    Locum on the side, and in between all that, arrange taste days in the specialties that a. you enjoyed aspects of, and b. in areas you have never worked in/never heard of, eg Public Health.

    I think you’ll find that away from the demands of the foundation training program and all its hoop-jumping, you’ll face less pressure to just “do”something. The one who told you it would be a waste if you quit is on level, impartial, as you’ve correctly said. She’s not entirely wrong mind you – medicine is still a very good career; its just that the NHS is something else, and the fact that its a monoemployer, ie no NHS no job, is very restricting. But you’re right, her current stance is affected by her department, the gaps, and the pressures faced.

    So if I were in your position, I’d take the F3 year, at least. I don’t know if you are under pressure to make it to consultant level, I’m certainly not, but take the time out to have a bit more control over your time and workload, get into a better head space. People rant on and on about building your CV, doing something constructive – valid, but that all depends on your current thoughts towards future careers and what you’d like to do next. If you’re someone whose unsure, then you need to find out exactly why that is. In the specialties/departments you’ve worked in: why did you not enjoy certain aspects: The people? Work environment? Were they a great team but the workload was too much? Did you even enjoy the work? The trainees higher up, the CT, STs, Regs – did they appear to enjoy what they do, in the midst of rota gaps and understaffing? Did they feel they were getting enough training? All these questions to ask. Observing people, just listening to them, watching – even without speaking to them directly, you’ll learn a lot as to what they think about their work.

    I hope this helps somewhat, I’m sure you’ve heard it all before!

  2. Sorry, I wanted to add to my comment.

    I did my elective at the major trauma centre of st Mary’s hospital, london.

    Whilst I was there, I worked with a guy who was kinda in a similar position, like so many others. Not sure what he wanted to do entirely, though he did appear to like a little of ortho, something along those lines. CV wasn’t up to scratch. So he initially took an F3 year, locumming in various hospitals, ortho, A+E. He found that he was making a lot more money this way, with time to himself, and as the F3 went to an end, he found that ortho wasn’t what he expected, nor did he gravitate towards a specialty enough to go for training and therefore apply.

    so an F3 became an F4.

    An F4 to an F5.

    F5 to F6.

    And if I remember correctly, he’s now four years out from F2, about to clear his student debts, and says he feels happier than he’s ever been in a long time.Money isn’t everything, I know, but to do life, and a good one at that, being financially stable is something to consider, especially in this day and age.

    This is just one example, and I don’t know how things will work out for you, but if I had the chance to just hit “pause” for a moment, to take the time to think, then I would.

    1. I agree, going along with a specialty I could tolerate isn’t a great idea by any stretch of the imagination and I would never give that advise to someone else. I know I would run out of steam pretty quickly and get burnt out as a result.

      Time away from from training will give me the space to truly assess what it is I want and give me a larger sense of control over my life. This past year and a bit have thrown up a lot of questions and it’s going to take some time to resolve them all.

      Thank you for adding that example. I find hearing these type of stories encouraging. You’re right money isn’t everything, but for me being financially stable is important.

      And thanks again – for commenting. I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time out not only to read what I’ve got to say, but to also write such a detailed response.

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