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 or not, and when to do so.

There are several opportunities to take time out of training and this is becoming increasingly popular.  Taking a break from training will not go against you, provided you use the time wisely.

When to go?

There are ‘natural’ break points: after medical school, after Foundation or on completion of Core training. In addition, there is the opportunity to take a break during specialty training for which there is a formal process to be followed and approval must be gained in advance. Information for specialty trainees can be found in the  Gold Guide and for GP at: http://primarycare.severndeanery.nhs.uk/training/trainees/taking-time-out-of-programme-oop/ 


What to do?

Taking a break from training doesn’t automatically involve leaving the UK to work abroad. People do all kinds of different things, including Clinical Fellowships, Teaching Fellowships, Trust grade posts, locum work, anatomy demonstration, research, further study and travel, to name a few. Remember it is what you do, not where you do it that makes the difference to your experience and next steps.


Why take time out? 

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


Points to note

 Check eligibility requirements for specialty training: many specify a maximum of 18 months experience in the specialty, any more and you may be ineligible


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)



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.


Working in English- speaking countries



Doctor Connect - Work as a doctor in Australia (Government website)

Australian Medical Council

Australian Rural Health Education Network

Australian Government Dept. of Immigration and Citizenship

Northern Territory Government

There is no nationally regulated system for applications to work in the medical system in Australia. You must apply to all of the following:

  • State or Territory Health Department for a job
  • State or Medical Territory Medical Board for registration
  • Department of Immigration for a visa
  • Medicare Australia for a Medicare Provider Number

International Medical Recruitment


TripleO Medical


New Zealand

New Zealand is similar to Australia but does not have different states or a territory, once you are registered to practice this applies to the whole country, however, there may be restrictions depending on your work permit/immigration status.

Medical Council of New Zealand

Health Careers

The Medical Council registers doctors in New Zealand and carries responsibilities in the areas of standards, conduct and competence.

If you would like to register to practice in NZ you can use the online self-assessment tool to check your eligibility.
You must also go through the New Zealand Immigration process for a visa/work permit etc.


TripleO Medical



Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) - Assess whether International Medical Graduates are ready to enter programs of graduate medical education in the United States’ you must have this certification.



The process for applying to train/work in Canada is a similar challenge to that of the USA. However, each province has different rules and regulations and you will need to check what is required, once you have decided in which area you would like to work.

Canadian Information Centre for International Medical Graduates

Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada

Medical Council of Canada

Working in Alberta

Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials

Ontario Immigration