Updated: Mar 30
*Please note that the information provided below may be subject to change due to COVID-19*
The Foundation Programme Application System, or FPAS, is the process in which medical school graduates apply for their Foundation jobs – F1 and F2.
There are three different types of applications:
Standard Foundation Programme (which all applicants must apply for)
Academic Foundation Programme
Foundation Priority Programme
The general dates for the application process are listed below (specific dates are added to the UKFPO’s website closer to the opening date).
WHERE TO APPLY:
There are 20 Foundation Schools (also known as deaneries) in the UK. The School in which you would like to apply to depends on you. Each deanery has a mix of big cities and smaller towns, teaching hospitals and district general hospitals. Many applicants either choose the deanery of their medical school or the one closest to home. However, some applicants also choose to explore new areas of the country. When applying, applicants must rank all 20 deaneries depending on their preference.
Map of Foundation Schools in UK
THE APPLICATION PROCESS:
The application is a points-based system, with a total of 100 points available. The points are split into:
- Situational Judgement Test – 50 points
- Educational Performance Measure (EPM) – 50 points
The SJT is a multiple-choice assessment that is used to test if medical students have the necessary qualities to work as a Foundation Doctor. The assessment is comprised of various scenarios that test an applicant’s professional attributes that are expected during your Foundation years.
This is a national exam, so all who wish to apply for the two-year Foundation programme must take this exam.
There are usually two dates that medical schools choose from, to allow medical students take this exam. Applicants can only sit the exam once per application cycle, and cannot use previous years’ results.
The EPM is a measure of your academic performance.
It consists of two parts: Medical School performance and Educational Achievements
Medical School performance:
From your medical school performance, you can gain between 34-43 points for your medical degree. Your points depends on your decile ranking within your medical school cohort.
Each medical school has its own method of ranking their students to allocate them to each decile ranking, by using various assessments over the years.
Education achievements is an optional component that allows you to gain additional points for additional degrees and publications.
More information on additional degrees and publications below:
Additional degrees is a way to get extra points. This includes PhDs, BScs and MScs. The points are awarded as:
5 points – Doctoral degree (e.g. PhD)
4 points – Postgraduate Masters (e.g. MSc, MPharm), 1st class honours degree, Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) Bachelor Veterinary Medicine (B Vet Med)
3 points – 2.1 honours degree, 1st class BMedSci awarded at University of Nottingham
2 points – 2:2 honours degree, 2.1 class BMedSci awarded at University of Nottingham
1 points – 3rd honours degree, Unclassified honours degree, 2.2 class BMedSci awarded at University of Nottingham
Therefore, it is possible to attain a maximum of 5 additional points from extra degrees.
Have an online copy of your degree certificate (or an official letter of confirmation if your degree is yet to be conferred) available to uploaded on to your application.
You can only upload the information from one additional degree so if you have more than one degree, it is best to choose the one that will give you the maximum amount of points.
You can get up to 2 additional points for publications achieved during medical school (1 point per publication). These publications can be for any research, articles or letters that have resulted in a PubMed ID number.
Any publications need to be published before the closing date of application and must give you a PubMed ID. If your publication does not result in a PubMed ID or if during the application process the ID number that you provide does not link your publication, you will not be awarded the additional points.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER:
It is possible to link your application to an applicant in order to get allocated to the same deanery. But it is important to remember that the lower of the two scores will be used for allocation, and links will not be possible if either applicant accepts an AFP offer or applies with special circumstances.
ACADEMIC FOUNDATION PROGRAMME (AFP)
AFP gives Foundation Doctors the opportunity to spend allocated time to gain academic experience.
There are generally three types of AFPs:
Research, Medical education, and Leadership & Management.
You can apply for a maximum of two different deaneries, with each deanery having its own shortlisting process. Some deaneries use white-space questions where the applicants have the opportunity to write why they are suited for the role. Other deaneries, for example those in London, rely on a points based system in order to shortlist applicants for interviews.
AFP applications are submitted at the same time as the standard FP, but applicants receive offers for AFP at an earlier date.
· Applicants that accept an AFP offer will be withdrawn from the standard FP.
· Applicants that were unsuccessful or declined AFP offers which automatically be included the standard FP allocation process.
· Applicants that accept an AFP offer and then withdraw, will be withdrawn from the whole FPAS application of that cycle and will need to reapply the following year if they still wish to complete a Foundation programme.
FOUNDATION PRIORITY PROGRAMME (FPP)
FPP was a recently introduced initiative that gave applicants the opportunity to apply for Foundations jobs in areas that typically struggled to attract or retain doctors. FPPs can offer many benefits such as experience abroad, financial incentives, leadership, medical education and more experience in specific specialities.
The scores used for FPP are the same as the score for the standard FP.
The following Foundation Schools have FPP posts:
Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire (EBH)
North Central and East London
North West of England
West Midlands North
West Midlands South
Accepting offers and withdrawing works exactly the same way as AFP.
PSYCHIATRY FOUNDATION FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMME
The PFF allows applicants with interest in Psychiatry to have more exposure to it during their foundation training as well as supporting them when applying for specialty training post in Psychiatry. It gives trainees additional access to Psychiatry educational opportunities (e.g. conferences (fully funded), psychiatry journals and e-learning), weekly psychiatry supervision and Balint groups for reflection. There is also the opportunity to look in psychiatry subspecialties such as CAMHS.
All Foundation schools have PFF posts and applicants must provide an academic CV and a supporting statement when applying. Interviews are held at the Royal College of Psychiatry in London in November/December. Offers are given in February based on applicants’ interview scores and placement preferences. Accepting offers and withdrawing works exactly the same way as AFP.
AFTER THE APPLICATION:
From March, the outcome of your application is released (this is for those who did not accept or apply for FPP or AFP). Majority of applicants will be allocated to one of their choices and placed on the primary list. A few applicants each year are placed on the reserve list due to the number of applicants exceeding the number of places. Those on the reserve list can still be allocated to posts due to primary list applicants withdrawals.
At this stage in the application, the matching process can occur. Depending on the size of the Foundation School and the number of jobs available, there will either be a two-stage or one-stage matching process. A two-stage matching process involves applicants ranking subgroups within their Foundation School first. After this stage, it is the same as the one stage matching process in which applicants rank the jobs available for the Foundation School. You do not need to rank all the jobs; however, jobs are allocated based on your rank within that deanery. If all the jobs that you have ranked are no longer available you will be given a job at random.
When ranking jobs, many people have preferences on location or a specific speciality that they may want to go into in the future. It is often recommended that if you want to go into a specific speciality, try and rank the job with that rotation as an FY2. Nevertheless, if you cannot get a speciality that you want, it is also possible to arrange taster sessions with your Foundation School.
Jobs usually consist of 3 four-month rotations in FY1 and 3 four-month rotations in FY2.
All programmes should include a community placement (e.g. psychiatry, GP).
All programmes should have a maximum of 8 months in a surgical speciality, or 8 months in a community speciality, or 4 months in a psychiatry placement.
Community specialities cannot be repeated but other specialities can be repeated depending on job availability.
Overall, your foundation years are where you put everything that you have learnt over the course of your medical school career into practice and you actually learn how to be a doctor. Even if you do not get your first-choice deanery/jobs, you will still gain the necessary skills that you need to become a good doctor.
The UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) is a new national exam that students (both UK nationals and international medical graduates) graduating in the year 2023-2024 are expected to take, before they can join the GMC medical register. As the finer details of the assessment are still being planned, it is currently unknown if this assessment will contribute to the FPAS application.
Written by Dr Nadia Ibrahim MBBS BSc AICSM, Junior Doctor in South Thames Deanery.