Applications for the August 2024 intake will open in January 2024. This article outlines the application process for 2023 as reference to prepare for 2024 applications. Please check the official website for up-to-date information.
UPDATED: July 19, 2023
Are you an IMG aiming to get into UK specialty training (residency)? If so, then you will first need to have 24 months of clinical experience.
If you are currently completing, or if you have already completed, a 12-month internship back home, then you’re going to need an additional 12 months of clinical experience after internship.
There are 2 ways to meet this requirement:
- FY2 Stand-alone
- A total of 12-months in an overseas training job/overseas non-training job/UK non-training job or a combination of these
We believe the FY2 Stand-alone is a fantastic option for IMGs to prepare for UK specialty training. Keep reading to find out how you can get into this recommended programme.
What is FY2 and FY2 Stand-alone?
FY2 stands for Foundation Year 2, it is the second year of the 2-year UK Foundation Programme (UK FP). The UK FP is a paid training programme that all UK medical graduates must complete prior to starting specialty training.
FY2 Stand-alone is a 12-month training job in which you enter the Foundation Programme in the second year. At the end of the year, you will be awarded a Foundation Programme Certificate of Completion (FPCC). This certificate is one of the eligibility requirements for entry to UK specialty training.
If a job is advertised as FY2 but does not award the FPCC, then it is not an FY2 Stand-alone post, and not part of the official Foundation Programme. Jobs like this are simply “non-training” jobs set at the level of FY2 ie. someone who is quite junior.
Without the FPCC, you would need to obtain the Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training (CREST form) as the equivalent in order to be eligible to apply for UK specialty training.
FY2 Stand-alone posts can be anywhere in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland) but the majority of jobs are typically in England. Jobs only start each August and applications open once a year each January.
If you’re still new to how postgraduate medical training in the UK works, you can read more about it here.
What is expected of a FY2 doctor?
Since you have completed internship, by now your seniors will expect you to handle the initial management of acute scenarios and contribute to the management of chronic cases – all of this will be with supervision.
This Oxford Handbook for the Foundation Programme was my bible at the time and has saved me on multiple occasions. Another useful book is the Hands On Guide to the Foundation Programme. If you are in the UK, you can get them delivered to your doorstep via Amazon using the links above.
FY2 standalone job availibility
There are usually 350 jobs each year but this varies a lot. Unfortunately, this is something you have no control of over, so it’s always good to have a backup plan if things don’t go right. An alternative to Standalone FY2 is applying for non-training jobs at FY2 level.
Why should IMGs consider applying for FY2 Stand-alone?
Start how you mean to end
If you want to work in the UK long-term, it’s often better to start at the most junior training position possible. This will allow you to integrate into the system faster and learn everything the “NHS way” from the beginning.
By joining FY2 Stand-alone, you will start your UK career in a junior position where there will be less expectations of you, and you can you learn at a more manageable pace.
You will also be less likely to run into potentially career-ending mistakes. It is often not the lack of medical knowledge that leads to complaints, mistakes, and lawsuits, but a misunderstandings between colleagues, or miscommunication with patients, and not knowing how the system works.
To gain an idea of how the UK system works, doing a clinical attachment can also help.
Eligibility for Round 1 of specialty training applications
The Standalone FY2 programme used to be one of the main ways that IMGs could gain exemption from Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). Exemption from RLMT meant that IMGs would be eligible to apply in Round 1 of first-year specialty training jobs (CT1/ST1) in any specialty including Core Surgery, Radiology, Ophthalmology etc.
This meant that you would be considered alongside UK graduates and will be assessed solely on the merit of your application and not on where you graduated.
Since October 6, 2019, all doctor jobs were added to the UK Shortage Occupation List. This means that non-UK citizens are automatically exempt from RLMT and are now eligible for Round 1 of specialty applications even without Standalone FY2. so it’s no longer necessary to apply for Standalone FY2 just for the purpose of RLMT exemption.
Who should consider applying to FY2 Stand-alone?
- Any IMG who still needs 12-month post-internship experience to apply for specialty training.
- Any IMG with more than 12-months post-internship experience but wants to start their UK career in a structured programme before applying for specialty training.
FY2 Stand-alone can be a great first job to have in the UK, read our article on how to choose the best first job.
Who can’t apply to FY2 Stand-alone?
Potentially IMGs who have a valid CREST signed (Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training).
The person specifications state that, “The applicant must not be working as part of a two-year foundation programme, i.e. current F1 trainees, or have already successfully completed an F2 year and received a Foundation Programme Certificate of Completion (FPCC) or equivalent or expect to do so by the start of the programme.”
CREST is the equivalent of FPCC. However, it’s not clear if they are strict with this, they may not be.
Is it possible for IMGs to get a Standalone FY2 post?
In fact, UK graduates are mostly barred from applying to Standalone FY2 so it’s almost exclusively open to IMGs. It says even says on the UK Foundation programme website: “Stand-alone programmes provide an opportunity for overseas graduates who qualify with full registration to enter the training system in the UK.”
But don’t get carried away just yet. Just because your chances are good doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a job. In fact, FY2 Standalone posts have become quite popular and therefore more competitive.
To get ahead of the competition, you need to achieve 4 things:
- Meet all the eligibility criteria by the published deadlines
- Submit your application form correctly and on time
- Score highly on the Situational Judgement Test (SJT), and
- Perform well in the interview
What are the eligibility criteria for FY2 Standalone?
There are several requirements for FY2 standalone that you can read about here, but the major ones that IMGs struggle with are full GMC registration and proof of English proficiency.
Full GMC Registration
You need to have full GMC registration by the time you start FY2 Standalone. This means you can apply without GMC registration, but you need to show that you are able to get GMC registration on time.
This means that if you graduated outside of the EU, you need to have your PLAB 1 pass in hand when you submit your application for FY2 Standalone in January 2024. You then need to book PLAB 2 by the end of May 2024, and pass it, in order to apply for GMC registration in time.
Full GMC registration also means that you need to complete an internship that meets the GMC criteria. Read more about the GMC criteria for internship here.
Proof of English Proficiency
Be aware that the English requirements for Standalone FY2 are different than the GMC requirements. You will need to present one of the following four at the time of application (by January):
- A pass in IELTS Academic or General with 7.5 in all sections OR
- A pass in OET with 400 in all sections OR
- A letter from a Consultant whom you have worked with in the NHS for at least 3 months confirming your English proficiency. You can find the form for this on the official FY2 Standalone website here. OR
- A certificate from your medical school confirming that your education was solely in English AND your interaction with patients was also in English more than 75% of the time. This option is only possible if your medical school is not on this list.
Take note that if you use an English test, it must not be more than 2 years old on the day that FY2 starts. For the August 2024 intake, this means that the date of your IELTS/OET must be on or after 6 Aug 2022.
The Situational Judgement Test for FY2 Standalone
The Situational Judgement Test was introduced as a shortlisting tool to decide who gets through to interview. You need to score amongst the highest applicants in order to proceed to interview. There are 20 questions on the test and you have 45 minutes to complete it. The test is computer-based and you can take it online anywhere in the world. All applicants need to take this test, there are no exceptions.
So what is this test all about?
According to the UKFP:
The SJT assesses the following attributes including professional integrity, team collaboration, empathy and compassion, and adaptability.
The SJT presents applicants with a series of work-related situations and asks them questions about how they would respond to these situations. These questions are rating format.
Here’s an example of a scenario that could come up in the test:
Lola is observing a patient consultation in a primary care clinic. The patient has attended as he has a rash on his stomach that he has had for a long period of time and is concerned about. The patient removed his shirt to have the rash examined and makes a joke about his own weight at the same time. Lola laughs at the patient’ sjoke, however, the patient looks upset and offended by this.
How desirable are each of the following responses by Lola in this situation?
Extremely desirable (1) -Slightly desirable (2) -Neither desirable nor undesirable (3) -Slightly undesirable (4) -Extremely undesirable (5)
- Make a joke about her own weight to the patient
- Continue to laugh at other things during the consultation
- Ask the patient if she has offended him
- Apologise to the patient for laughing
- Ask the patient if there was a reason that he made a joke about his weight
- Ask the patient if he would be happy for her to remain in the room for the remainder of the consultation
This sample question was provided by the UK Foundation Programme. You can find more SJT practice questions with answers here.
It’s crucial that you’re familiar with the expectations of a UK FY2 doctor to answer these questions well. Don’t answer them according to how you would respond in your home country or as a senior doctor.
SJT preparation material
- GMC Good Medical Practice (GMP) – The official GMC professional code of conduct for doctors.
- GMC GMP in action – Online exercises on how the GMP should be applied in various situations.
- Get ahead! The SJT – Quite popular on UK medical student forums, many people have found it really helpful. You can get your copy on Amazon here.
- 250 SJT questions – A book by ISC, authors of the well-known Medical Interview book which helped me ace my first NHS interview. I love their content which is why I’m recommending this book. Get your copy here on Amazon.
The FY2 standalone interview
The FY2 Standalone applicant guidance does not have a lot of information about the interview itself, the only information given is that the interview is:
- 20-minutes long;
- Involves being asked a series of questions including a clinical scenario; AND
- Scored by a panel of at least 2 members
- Can be done online (make sure your computer, software & internet connection are all working beforehand!)
Making sure you are up-to-date with the management of common clinical scenarios is essential. You can prepare for this by familiarising yourself with the ALS/ILS/ACLS guidelines if you haven’t already taken the course, reading up on UK clinical guidelines for common conditions, and simply asking other IMGs what came out at their interview. If you did a PLAB 2 course then this is good preparation for the interview as well.
Answering the interview questions in the right tone and structure will also play a huge role in how the panel will score you! I attended the Standalone FY2 interview back in 2015 and managed to get a post in London.
That was my first ever medical interview in the UK and I found the Medical Interviews book (available here on Amazon) extremely helpful. I cannot recommend this book enough! Honestly, I would not have made it in without this secret weapon.
Also, being familiar with the following guidance will help you:
- GMC guide to Good Medical Practice (2013)
- Promoting excellence: standards for medical education and training (2016) including the relevant core skills
You will also be asked about your CV so be prepared to talk about your achievements to date, as well as what you aspire to achieve.
If you are now thinking of applying to Standalone FY2, here are 10 ways to prepare for your first job in the NHS as an IMG to help you hit the ground running!
Where can I get more information?
If you have any further questions, make sure to read the following as almost every possible question about this programme is covered here:
If you still can’t find the answer to your question, the best thing to do is email the UK Foundation Programme directly for an official answer. They usually reply within 3-5 days, although in our experience they’re not very helpful.
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