Careers and Foundation Training

Careers Advice

  • UCLMS: Careers events are timetabled in each year of the programme and Medical Student Support Tutors are available to give advice at Student Support Clinics 

    • Dr Paul Dilworth is the lead Student Support Tutor for Careers & Foundation School Transition
    • Student Support Clinic appointments are booked via:
  • UCL: Careers advice is accessed via the UCL Careers Service.

  • SLMS: Careers in Academic Medicine.

  • BMA: Working Abroad
  • NHS: Health Careers website

Foundation School Transition

UCLMS: Foundation School transition is supported by the Years 4-6 Team who run the SJT and EPM rankings

Foundation Training

UKFPO: The national application process for Foundation School training is managed by: UKFPO

Information about UK Foundation Schools can be found at:

Contact details for the London and South East Healthcare Education Team (LaSe HET) are: (for all F1-related queries) (for all F2-related queries) (for any general query that doesn’t clearly fit into one of the above categories)

Telephone: 020 7866 3216 (9.00am to 5.00pm)

Careers Advice

UCL Medical Careers Advisor and Services

Elaine Denniss

Medical Careers Consultant, UCL Careers Service

Elaine is based at both UCL Careers Service and at C2 Careers Consultancy, The Careers Group, University of London. Elaine works closely with UCL Medical School where she provides 1:1 career counselling and career education talks for each stage of the MBBS programme.  Furthermore, Elaine works with the Psychology and Language Science Department at UCL.

At C2 Careers, Elaine provides 1:1 confidential career counselling to doctors at any stage of their career, regardless of their specialty, on behalf of the BMA Careers Service. Elaine also delivers tailor-made practice interview services to medical clients as well as a range of career and professional skills workshops for doctors

Beyond the specific Medical Careers Consultant, UCL Careers Service has a team of 11 Career Consultants and 3 Information Staff. Medical students are also very welcome to make appointments with alternative members of the team. Information for booking a career discussion

Elaine offers advice on:

  • career choice
  • applying for electives
  • part-time working
  • cv checking
  • interview skills
  • leaving medicine

One Hour Guidance Discussion with Elaine

These sessions are for a more in-depth discussion of particular issues within studying medicine or medical career options; they are not suitable for cv checks

To book for an hour session you need to email: with the word ‘MEDIC’ in the title. You will then be emailed a brief Career Discussion Form which you will need to complete and return before booking your appointment. Alternatively, you can come into the Careers Service to collect the form and book your appointment.

Career Planning and Management

Whilst you are studying for your MBBS, there are various aspects of career management which you can be thinking about and exploring.

Some people have very clear ideas of what sort of medical career they want after they have finished their MBBS, others are less sure and some have no idea yet the direction they want to take. All of three states of career decision making are fine and understandable!

Wherever you currently are on the ‘know exactly where I’m heading’/ ‘where am I?’ continuum of career management, there are various things to be thinking about at each stage of your MBBS to help with your career direction.

Here’s a brief guide outlining some useful questions to ask yourself at each stage of the MBBS and some activities you might like to explore whilst studying for your MBBS.

Year 1

  • What attracted me to studying medicine in the first place?
  • What would I say are my main strengths? What do I want to be better at?
  • Are my expectations about the course and my career realistic?
  • How aware am I of the diverse range of careers within medicine on a scale of 0-10?
  • Attend MBTI workshop, organised by UCL Careers Service throughout the year, to understand more about your personality type and associated strengths and preferences. (See Refer to the Careers Service website for further details at

Year 2

  • At this very early stage, what is quite important to me in a career?
  • Which subjects have I enjoyed the most so far and why?
  • Which parts of the course do I find less rewarding and why?
  • Which skills am I taking longer to develop than others?
  • What am I most looking forward to in my later clinical years and why?

Year 3/IBSc

  • Which of the IBSc courses that are available appeal to you and why?
  • How might this course help develop you as a doctor and practitioner?
  • How might this course also develop you as both a scholar and as a scientist?
  • Which skills do you feel you will particularly develop during your IBSc and why?
  • How confident are you in your application skills needed to secure a place on your choice of IBSc?

Year 4

  • Is clinical medicine what I expected or not?
  • How much do I enjoy research and is academic medicine interesting to me?
  • How could I use my SSCs and firms to explore my main career options?
  • In what ways would keeping a self-reflective journal during my clinical years help me in my careers thinking?
  • Which specialities am I starting to become vaguely more interested in and why?
  • How up-to-date is my CV and what could I add to it to improve it?

Year 5

  • How could I learn more from my clinical colleagues about their specialty? (e.g. interviewing, observing)
  • Which core competencies or skills, such as coping with pressure, am I developing and how?
  • How clear is my understanding of the various career paths within medicine?
  • Where else could I find different information on specialties?
  • How might my choice of elective be useful in developing my career management?
  • How confident am I that I could complete the Foundation Programme application form effectively on a scale of 0-10?
  • How up-to-date is my CV now and what could I add to it to improve it?

Year 6

  • Which environments (e.g. Primary Care, hospital-based) do I prefer working in?
  • Is it the actual specialty that I like or rather the particular consultant or firm?
  • What has each rotation taught me about what is important to me in my career?
  • Which aspect of the Foundation Programme am I most looking forward to and why?
  • How would I describe my decision-making style, in terms of my career?
  • How up-to-date is my CV now and what could I add to it to improve it?

Developing your CV

Whilst many medical programmes and jobs use application forms, maintaining an up-to-date CV throughout your medical career can still be useful and valuable. During your MBBS, you may also find a CV a useful format to record your skills and experiences throughout the course. Indeed a CV is sometimes needed when applying for certain electives, for example.

Remember, there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ CV; the most effective CVs are those that are tailored towards a specific role and employer. However there are ways of presenting information in a more coherent, clear and persuasive manner.

Furthermore, medical CVs tend to be more prescriptive in the information that is required, hence medical CVs have no real length limit unlike other professional areas. Nevertheless, a CV suitable for a Foundation doctor is unlikely to be longer than 2 or 3 pages.

Advice on Content:

The main sections of a medical CV are usually as follows:


  • Name
  • Contact details
  • GMC registration number and registration date (add once achieved!)
  • Medical Defence Union


  • University

    • MBBSAwards
    • Clinical Grades
    • Prizes & Scholarships
    • Intercalated Degree/Previous degrees
  • School A-levels & GCSEs

    • Prizes & Awards


  • Can be either SSC or IBSc project. Include subject, date, supervisor’s name, summary of content, publications and presentations (if applicable)


  • When, where, what, who with – brief description, highlight key skills gained both clinical and transferable

Work Experience

  • Medically related
  • Additional

Additional Skills

  • Languages, IT Skills


  • Think about headlining different types of activity, e.g. Sport, Music etc. Also indicate your level of achievement, e.g. Vice-captain, Grade 8 etc.


  • Also ask permission from your potential referees, such as Tutors or Consultants from your SSC, Electives or rotations.

Advice on layout

  • Use CAPITALS, Bold and italics to emphasise your points; but use them sparingly and remember underlining can look a bit outdated.
  • Font size is usually between 10 and 12 for readability and clarity and use a simple font, such as Arial; you want the content, not the layout, to capture their attention.

Visit UCL Careers Service for a 15-minute ‘quick query’ for individual feedback on your CV.

There will also be an opportunity to develop your CV throughout your MBBS course as part of your ongoing portfolio activities.

Reflective Practice through the MBBS programme

When you come to apply for your Foundation Programme towards the end of your MBBS course you will be asked to provide specific examples of particular competencies or skills.

These skills include communication skills, ability to work well in a team, prioritisation skills, and an ability to cope under pressure.

It is important, therefore to have first-hand examples in mind that you can draw on during the application stage. Whilst you will have many examples of all these skills during your busy clinical years it can be difficult to remember all the best examples of such competencies.

For that reason keeping a reflective diary in your portfolio during your MBBS can be a useful tool in helping to record detailed examples of relevant competencies.

There are a range of ways that you may choose to organise your reflective diary and you need to choose the method that best suits you and that will be most use to you when you come to apply for the Foundation Programme.

Below are some suggestions on how to organise your reflective diary in a way that will assist you in when applying to the Foundation Programme and in your longer term careers management process as doctor.

Ways of organising a reflective diary

  • Focus on what is meant by the ‘core competencies’, e.g. communication skills, ability to work well in a team, professional behaviour, prioritisation skills, and an ability to cope under pressure, which we know are likely to be assessed during the Foundation Programme application process.
  • Use these ‘core competencies’ as headings under which you can list particular examples which demonstrate that skills set.
  • Alternatively, you might want to start by reflecting on particularly positive (or negative!) experiences which you have had during your clinical training which you can then ‘unpick’ or analyse in terms of particular skills and competencies.
  • Remember, there is no ‘one right way’ to keep a reflective diary. It is your document and you need to make the experience as practical, useful and relevant to you as possible.

UCLMS Careers Events and Presentations

Year 1

  • Introduction to Careers (November CIF week)

Year 2

  • Careers in Medicine and Transition to the Clinical Years (February CIF week)

Year 4

  • Introduction to the Career Management process andinformation on Foundation School application process (IOM)

Year 5

  • Careers and the Foundation School applications (IOM)
  • Specialty workshops (IOM)

Year 6

  • Introduction to the Foundation Year 1 Application Process (IOM)

Career Presentations:

  • GMC Provisional Registration Event (October 2015) - Ms Emma Reuben (slides)
  • Beginning of Year 5: Career Management and Foundation School Application Process (September 2014) - Ms Elaine Denniss (slides)
  • Beginning of Year 5: Professional Support Unit (September 2014) - Ms Kathleen Sullivan (slides)
  • Beginning of Year 5: Situational Judgement Test / Educational Performance Measure (September 2014) - Dr Paul Dilworth (slides)
  • Beginning of Year 5: Academic Foundation Programme (September 2014) - Dr Richard Stratton (slides)
  • End of Year 5: Foundation Schools (August 2015) - Dr James Dooley (slides)
  • End of Year 5: Foundation Programme Application Process (August 2015) - Dr Paul Dilworth (slides)
  • End of Year 5: F1 Doctors: A Retrospective After a Year as an F1 (August 2015) - Drs Pilling, Julius, Sadeghi and Miller (slides coming)
  • End of Year 5: The Situational Judgement Test (August 2015) - Ms Elaine Denniss (slides)
  • End of Year 5: Situational Judgement Test Workshop (August 2015) - UCL Careers Service (slides)
  • End of Year 5: New F1 Doctors: The Experience of Applying for Foundation Last Year (August 2015) - Drs Cane, Waxman, Woodrow, Frater, Phelan, Shah, Vigneswaran, Nally and Singh (slides)
  • End of Year 5: Academic Foundation Programme application support (August 2015) - Drs Swerdlow and Smith (slides)
  • Year 6: Academic Foundation Programme: Effective Applications (October 2013) - Ms Elaine Denniss (PowerPoint Slides and audio link to lecture)

Alternative Careers

The vast majority of MBBS graduates go on to train within one of over 60 medical specialities.

Medicine is such an extraordinarily varied profession that the likelihood of finding a specialty that suits your interests, skills and preference is very high.

Nevertheless each year some doctors choose to move away from practising medicine to work within one of the many alternative careers available.

It’s worth remembering that up to 60% of graduate-level jobs are open to all degree disciplines, including medicine. Therefore, if you treat your MBBS like any other degree you can see that you have a wide range of options available to you.

If you are interested in alternative careers to being a doctor, first ask yourself whether you still want to work ‘within medicine’ in some capacity, or whether you’re more interested at looking at opportunities ‘beyond medicine’. This will help to clarify what it is you are looking for and why you are considering leaving the profession.

It can also be valuable to reflect on what parts of your MBBS you have most enjoyed and which parts of the course have you found more challenging. This will give you an insight into alternative options that would suit your preferences and interests. For example, some students really enjoy the problem-solving or analytical aspects of medicine, whilst others get most satisfaction from working closely with patients.

You may find talking things through with a careers adviser or educational adviser may help you to clarify your ideas and generate options to explore further.

To aid your reflection, below are some suggestions of roles which are either linked to medicine in some way or those with are less connected to the field. Remember, these are a few starting points to reflect on; some of these roles will require additional study and training.

Career Alternatives within Medicine examples:

Health policy, medical journalism, medico-legal work, medical (NHS + beyond) management, health economics, medical photography/illustration, medical education, medical statistics, humanitarian relief work, clinical trial management, translational research and development

Career Alternatives beyond Medicine examples:

Management consultancy, psychotherapy, publishing, accountancy, social work, solicitor/barrister work, pharmaceutical research and development, forensic work, public affairs, banking, teaching, central/local government roles.

Resources and Further Information

  • The NHS Medical Careers website has a useful section on alternative careers:
  • is a comprehensive career resource from The Careers Group, University of London with links to professional bodies, occupational profiles, relevant jobs boards, organisational website and so on.
  • is a graduate careers site with occupational profiles, case studies, sector information, links to professional bodies etc.
  • Contact UCL careers service to book a medical student appointment with a careers adviser on 020 7866 3600 or email

External Resources

General Sites

Support for Doctors:

Medical Specialties

Royal Colleges

The Foundation Programme

PG Medical & Dental Education in London & SE

NHS Careers

Useful Additional Sites - provides some information on current discussion points and useful job information

Immigration rules and working as a doctor in the UK



Working outside the UK

Foundation Training

Foundation School Applications: The Situational Judgement Test (SJT) at UCLMS

From 2014/15, all UCLMS students will take the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) at the December sitting except for those taking an SSC abroad or a remote GP placement. Jewish students may request to sit in January when the examination is held on a Monday rather than a Friday afternoon.

Local arrangements for UCLMS students to take the SJT are made by the North Central Thames Foundation School. The NCTFS Manager will disseminate information as it becomes available and will send reporting instructions during the autumn term.

Information about the SJT can be found on the UKFPO and North Central Thames Foundation School websites.

Foundation School Applications: The Educational Performance Measure (EPM) at UCLMS

The Foundation School application process requires Medical Schools to rank their students by decile.

At UCLMS, decile ranks are calculated on the basis of marks achieved in the summative examinations in Year 4 and Year 5 (penultimate year) with a 50:50 weighting. 

For MBPhD students who entered the shortened MBPhD programme prior to and including July 2012, decile ranks are normally based on Year 5 marks only because these cohorts took their Year 4 examinations formatively, but may be based on Year 4 and Year 5 where it is in the student’s favour to do so. 

The calculation currently excludes marks from the earlier years of the programme to enable all students, including our large transfer entry into Year 4, to be ranked against the same basket of UCLMS assessments.

The formula used to calculate decile rankings is:  (Year 4 mean)*0.5 + (Year 5 mean)*0.5                     

The marks contributing to decile rankings are: 

Year 4 written total:
Year 4 OSCE total:
Year 5 written total:
Year 5 OSCE total:

In compliance with UKFPO requirements, UCLMS rankings:

  • exclude pass/fail outcomes
  • are based on 1st entry examination results
  • are calculated for the cohort entering Year 6 and not in relation to the original cohorts in which students took Year 4 or Year 5 examinations
  • treat all students as a single cohort
  • include students who have applied to the academic Foundation programme
  • carry forward original rankings for students who have delayed their application to Foundation Training
  • carry forward original rankings for withdrawn or re-sit finalists (as the contributing marks are drawn from assessments taken up to the time of FS application) 
  • apply the following rules:

    • each student will have a rank place between 1 (highest scoring) and N (lowest scoring)
    • students with the same score will share the same rank place
    • where x students share the same rank place, the next x-1 rank places will remain empty
    • the rank places will be allocated in order (from 1 to N) to ten equal-sized groups, rounded up or down to the nearest whole number

Foundation School Applications: Medical School Referees

UKFPO will ask you to name 2 referees when you submit your application in October. One referee must be from the Medical School and will be your Personal Tutor except where students have been pre-allocated to Student Support Tutors or where a Personal Tutor has left. The Medical School reference is expected to be brief as it is used primarily for pre-employment checks.

The Medical School will notify your referee of your decile ranking and examination results towards the end of September. Students are advised to contact their Personal Tutor before naming him/her in their application to discuss whether their Tutor would like to meet prior to providing a reference. Referees will be asked to submit their reference on-line in March/April.