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Thinking of taking an F3 year? Advice on education

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Advice from the Student and Foundation Doctor Network about making the most of an F3 year, if you decide to take one.

Key tips:

  • Contact your local education teams to see if funds and a post are available
  • Assess whether a face to face or a distance learning format would be most suited to you
  • Take the opportunity of not having to book study leave to attend medical education conferences
  • Record evidence for the future such as feedback and course certificates and any qualifications achieved

Fellowships

There are substantial numbers of full- or part- time education, part clinical fellowships, usually hosted by undergraduate or postgraduate medical education centres. Some regions also recruit for simulation fellows on an annual basis. Jobs can often be found advertised online but equally a good starting point could be to approach your local education teams to see if funds and a post might be available. Fellowships are available in a wide variety of specialties and education components often involve active teaching of student doctors at both clinical and pre-clinical level but also engaging understanding and developing the medical education framework within the NHS.

Volunteer

Alternatively, you could gain experience by volunteering your time to teach undergraduates or postgraduates either locally or at a medical school or deanery event. A good starting point is to approach your local postgraduate team, or a senior involved in medical education, to find out more about opportunities or ad hoc positions. Alternatively, you could contact your local medical school prospectively.

Research

Medical education offers great opportunities for quantitative and qualitative research with a broad selection of topics to explore from interprofessional education to clinical skills to human factors. To make the most from time spent doing research a good supervisor with experience and a shared interest in your field can be very helpful. Contacting medical education departments, networking at local or national conferences, seeking contacts or mentors from national organisations or even Twitter can yield pointers for projects to get engaged with.

Qualifications

Medical education postgraduate qualifications are an established form of development offered by many institutions including partnerships between royal colleges and universities. There are a variety of formats and lengths of course from certificate programmes which usually require approximately 10 hours commitment per week, whereas diploma and Masters courses are commonly full-time.

Another important consideration is which format you would find most useful – a face-to-face programme requires more commitment to attendance on specific dates but allows communication with fellow peers and lecturers. a. A distance-learning course provides more flexibility at the expense of direct interaction with your fellow students and course facilitators.

Formal educational qualifications can be expensive. Bursaries are uncommon and difficult to obtain, but are available in some instances.

Short courses

Alternatively, you may wish to develop your skills as an educator during your F3 year, but for this to not take up a large proportion of your time. In this situation, the freedom to fashion your own experiences during your year out of training comes into its own. There are many shorter courses, some leading to accreditations, some providing Continuing Professional Development points and certificates of attendance. These tend to consist of face-to-face events, with little to no remote work to complete. Examples include the RCP’s Educator training days which include “On the job teaching” and “Effective teaching skills”. Taken together, these modular events can result in an RCP Educator Accreditation.

Conferences

There are many local, national and international medical education conferences annually. Some examine a specific area in medical education, others aim to be broader in scope. Gaining study leave to attend medical education conferences (especially if you are not presenting) can be challenging as an FD. You also have a limited number of study leave days you can take per training year.

The flexibility in an F3 year can allow you to attend as many medical conferences as you wish, explore your interests and develop links. They can be an important launchpad to further opportunities. With some F3 working arrangements, you may find you have more financial capacity to attend such conferences.

Evidencing your development as a medical educator

Being a skilled medical educator is a valuable facet for a FD- both now and in their future career. The GMC’s Generic Professional Capabilities include the need for postgraduate doctors to demonstrate skills and experiences as a medical educator. You can ensure that the opportunities you have, and skills you acquire during your F3 year are evidenced for the future in a number of ways.

Collect feedback after any teaching or examining sessions you are involved in. Use your FP portfolio or other means of record keeping to upload evidence such as feedback and demonstrate reflection on the key points whilst collating conference and course attendance certificates, along with any qualifications achieved. Another opportunity many make use of it to undertake a 360 feedback exercise in any educational role you take on- be it delivering local teaching, or as part of a fellowship. Consider mapping your experiences and achievements to the Academy of Medical Educators’ standards framework and this can be a very useful piece of evidence at appraisal and also interviews for further training or medical education posts.