A Severn Trainee in Zanzibar

Are you thinking about taking time out of training? You might have some questions about whether it's a good idea of not, and when is the best time to do it.

There are several opportunities to take time out of training and each has its own positives and negatives.  Many people now decide to take a year out after F2 and this is becoming increasingly popular. In 2011/2012 more than a quarter of F2s in the Severn Deanery decided to take a year out before going onto specialty training. Many found it a helpful and worthwhile experience.

Some people prefer to take time out whilst training in their particular specialty but there is a process which needs to be followed and approval must be gained in advance. 

See Out of Programme Experience' (OOPE) for GPs or the relevant pages in the Gold Guide for Specialty Doctors.

Quotes from trainees who've taken a year out 

“having some time out of training gave me the time to try out some more specialities and make a much more informed career decision than I could have made in F2. And it has given me some valuable life experience that has helped me prioritise what I want from career vs life.” (Jenny N)

"After F2 in 2009/10 I had 6 months of travelling - fantastic and much needed break!" (Katy H)

"Taking a year out of training is something I would recommend to any trainee, and taking time out after F2 is certainly not too early." (Chris G)

 "My year out of training involved a lot of careful planning but was well worth it." (Ruth D)

Why take time out of training? 

Common reasons include:

  • To gain further experience
  • To take a break
  • To study
  • Unsuccessful in gaining a training place
  • Time to think
  • Opportunity to travel
  • To start a family
  • Health reasons

Pro's of taking time out 

  • An opportunity to gain experience in areas of potential interest
  • To be able to look at things from a different perspective
  • Thinking time
  • An opportunity to research or do further study
  • Specialty research
  • To get a break from training 

Con's of taking time out

  • Money
  • Needs to be planned: time will go quickly
  • You may change your mind: about your specialty, long term location or even medicine as a career

FAQs - in brief 

Q/ Will taking time out go against me?

A/ No it won’t, provided the time is used constructively.

Q/ Will doing something abroad look better?
A/ No it is the experience not the location

Q/ Can I defer a specialty training place?
A/ Generally no


Before making a definite decision about taking a year out of training do discuss it: with Educational Supervisors, other trainees who have taken time out or the Deanery Careers Adviser.