How to plan your year out

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It’s an idea toyed by many medics in all stages of their careers. “Can I afford to take a break?” “Do I need a break?” “How will this affect my training?”. Taking a break between training programmes is now more common than ever, with many FY2s and CT2s opting to take a ‘locum year’ before they enter their next stage of their training. The most important question to ask is — is it right for you? We can’t answer this one for you. Some doctors feel that they want to ‘crack on’ with their training, especially if they are applying to a competitive speciality. However, with competition ratios at record lows, many doctors are opting for the ‘no rush’ approach, meaning they can work more flexible hours whilst also gaining some additional experience out of training.

If you do decide to take a year out, read on, but not before you’ve downloaded Locum’s Nest!

Here at Locum’s Nest, we love that we’re able to cater to every doctor, no matter what your working pattern, and connect you to a hospital whose requirements may change daily, even hourly — meaning there’s a greater chance we have shifts that appeal to you. However, life is not just about work! What about the rest of your time? You probably haven’t had this much time since you were back at medical school — remember what your summer used to be like? This might seem a little daunting at first, but don’t worry. This is the perfect opportunity — read on!

 

Make your year work for you.

First thing to do — grab or make yourself a calendar (yes, a paper one!) and get a highlighter pen. Got them? Good. Now, draw a nice big line across all the dates you’re going to want to take off: a family wedding perhaps, your birthday, maybe there’s a big football match or music festival that you don’t want to miss? Done that? Great. Now is also a good time to plan your holiday(s)! Does your best friend / partner have fixed annual leave? Check when that is and highlight it too. Enjoy how it feels to be flexible! You could even try to schedule time away when it isn’t the school holidays for that extra bit of peace and quiet. If you’re a sun-seeker, check thebesttimetovisit.com (I think that one’s self explanatory). You can even pick the cheapest place to get to using Skyscanner (just set your destination as ‘Everywhere’) and use specialist websites like Holiday Pirates for one-off deals on particular dates. Keep your eyes peeled!

 

Design your own working pattern.

Now you’re a ‘free agent’, you can pick and choose the shifts that suit you. Want to avoid rush hour? Pick a few twilight shifts and you can beat the traffic both ways on your commute! Bit of a night owl, get a few night shifts under your belt — the unsocial hours may also be easier on your wallet. You may even be able to stagger the timings of your shifts before your set of nights, as such: Monday, Tuesday — day shifts. Wednesday, Thursday — twilight shifts. Friday, Saturday & Sunday — night shifts. You can design it whichever way you want, that’s the beauty of locuming!

 

Pick up that hobby again. Do what you love.

Whilst it can feel like your spare time should be spent revising or working on your portfolio, make sure you make time for everything else. Do you miss reading? Spend a morning in your local library and find a book you’ll love. Pick up that guitar and start playing along to your favourite songs again. And of course, take the opportunity to see your friends and family. It’s crazy how so many important things get sidelined when we’re working a full rota.

 

Remember important deadlines.

If you want to be going back into training the year after (or apply for a deferred entry), remember — applications open around November time, so put a reminder in your calendar. You can usually sign up for Oriel / other applications before they open so you’re ready and raring to go when they do. And of course, make sure you remember those other important deadlines like checking in for your flights! 😉

Jason Peart