2020 Medical Graduates: The work and wellbeing of interim Foundation Year 1 (FiY1) doctors' during COVID-19

What were the key findings?

  • FiY1 was a largely valuable experience which eased the transition to practice.
  • Medical students were attracted to the FiY1 role for their own learning, to contribute to the NHS in a time of need, or through a sense of obligation. 
  • FiY1s’ work was similar to the work of F1s.
  • Those who had worked as FiY1s felt more prepared for starting F1 than those who had not been working since April 2020 or those who had worked in non-FiY1 clinical roles.
  • The FiY1 experience had limited impact on participants’ wellbeing.
  • ‘Supported autonomy’ was encouraged through positive learning environments and attention to wellbeing.
  • Participants faced challenging experiences during their FiY1 posts, but these were not necessarily negative if accompanied by support from colleagues. 

Why did we commission this research?

In spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic placed extraordinary strain on the medical workforce, leading to the creation of new FiY1 posts. Final year medical students who met the requirements of their degree were able to graduate and gain provisional registration earlier than normal to apply for these posts. The GMC brought forward provisional registration for almost 7,000 UK medical school graduates, and 4,662 FiY1 posts were filled between April and July 2020. 

This research examined the experience of medical graduates entering practice in 2020, including those who had an FiY1 post and those who didn’t. It also evaluated the impact of FiY1 posts on new doctors, in terms of their work, their wellbeing, and perceptions of practice.

What did the research involve?

This research was delivered by academic researchers at Newcastle, Exeter and Plymouth Universities, and included a survey of 1448 medical graduates (1054 who had done an FiY1 post/368 who had not/24 unknown) and follow up interviews with 22 medical graduates (17 who had done an FiY1 post/5 who had not).

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FiY1 medical graduate research - full report

FiY1 medical graduate research - appendices