Gap Year after Graduating

Can I Take a Gap Year after Graduating?

It’s become increasingly more common for UK doctors to want to take time out of training to pursue medical or personal interests abroad. The UK Foundation Programme career destinations report in 2018 showed that the trend to take a break between finishing foundation training and starting a speciality post is growing. In 2018, 37.7% of FY2s immediately took up a speciality post, down from 42.6% in 2017, 50.4% in 2016 and 71.3% in 2015. (The BMJ)


When’s the right time to take time out?

When you’re a medic it must feel as though there’s never a good time to take a break. There’s always the fear of missing out or feeling left behind. We’re here to look at when the best time for you may be.

Before Foundation: Is there an opportunity that can’t wait, or can it? It’s probably best advised that if you can delay, it may be best. The transition from being a medical student to an F1 is a daunting one and perhaps best supported by your peers. Whilst you may have a medical degree, you aren’t yet registered in a provisional context until you’ve completed your first year of the Foundation Programme. To put it simply, you aren’t yet eligible to practice medicine independently!

Between F1 and F2: Its likely you will need to contact your Foundation School Direction for more information as there is variation across each trust in the UK.After FY2: Unsurprisingly this seems to be the most popular time for doctors to take some much-needed time out! With Foundation Training under your belt, you are at a natural break in your career. You are now fully registered with the GMC and should have a broad base of medical skills. You may be doubting or confused over which speciality to choose (there’s 60!), so you should feel encouraged to experience medicine in a different context or continent. Alternatively, you may feel you need a much-needed break.

After Core Training: Completion of CT2 is another natural break and an opportunity for you to put training on pause and consider a new adventure.

In Speciality Training: There’s a variety of ‘Out of Programme’ options you can take. These include for training, clinical experience, research or career breaks. You should always enquire with your Postgraduate Dean and express early interest.


Financial Considerations

How much money do I need and should I be saving?

It’s estimated that a gap year can cost anywhere from £3000-£4000. (NUS) However, this does not include the work you can potentially be paid for whilst out there.

It may seem daunting to be spending money on a gap year after years of student debt but below are some tips to get you started.

  • Split your gap year. Either with locum work in the UK for 6 months and travelling for 6 months or set up opportunities in the countries you are planning to see.
  • Start budgeting and making savings where possible (see our money saving tips on the content hub)
  • Open a gap year account and earn interest

Other financial considerations?

  • Invest in good insurance!
  • Make a plan for your property; do you need tenants or do you need to give notice to your landlord
  • If you’re away for longer than 3 months, student loans may need to be paid by direct debit whilst away. It’s not difficult to organise, you just need the right paper work. Contact Student Finance once your travel plans are in place.
  • Mobile: Look over the T&C’s of your contract again. See if you can keep you up your contract in a cost-effective way abroad, researching cost effective bolt-ons or extra charges that would apply. If it’s getting expensive, find a get out clause or ask if your provider can help you switch to something more affordable.
  • Get the right card for spending abroad. Most conventional bank cards apply extra charges for overseas use, which can add up to 3% on everything you buy. There’s several cards which have no foreign use charges anywhere in the world, including cash withdrawals. Always tell your bank you are travelling because if it suddenly spots transactions in exotic destinations it may block your card as a precaution against fraud.

Top Tips

  • Plan early and be organised. Taking time out of training is becoming increasingly popular with jobs becoming more competitive
  • Be aware not all working years across the globe run from August – August
  • Maintain your GMC registration while away
  • Finally, when you are back be sure to pen an article detailing your adventures for us at the Next Step. We look forward to reading all about it.