How to Prepare in Your F2 Year for Locuming as an F3
If you are currently an F2, and are eager to get things sorted for your F3 year as a locum then welcome and bravo! We love your positive energy and your can-do attitude here at Messly.
Well done! You have already correctly identified a couple of key points about life as an F3 locum:
✅ It takes a certain amount of planning and preparation.
✅ You have to be self-motivated and seek out your own opportunities and support.
✅ It is exciting and addictive to think about!
To help you use your F2 time well, we have put together a list of the best things you can spend this year doing to prepare yourself for life as an F3 locum.
In this article you will learn about:
👉 How you can get paid as a locum and why this matters.
👉 How to update your CV and obtain references for locuming.
👉 How to combat locum anxiety and get the experience you need to start.
This article is for doctors in the first 6-9 months of their F2 year. If you are coming to the last 3 months of your F2 year, then you may want to also check out this article here.
If you haven’t decided yet that an F3 year is for you, then head to this article or if you aren’t sure whether the locum life is the right choice, then read this. If you aren’t sure what a locum is then I am not sure how you ended up here, but you may want to head to this article for the low-down on locums.
📝 Make an F3 plan
We always advocate setting some time aside to reflect and introspect so that you can approach your F3 armed with self-confidence, purpose, and excitement.
We have custom-designed a workbook for you (download here) to make the process a lot easier, and if you want additional guidance then you can also sign up to our webinar to work through it together.
As you start to look into locuming, you may start having questions about whether you should set up as a sole trader or a limited company. It’s a big topic and is pretty complicated but you can read our article about it here or how it may affect your mortgage application in the future here.
🖥 Update your CV
You probably haven’t dusted off that CV since you got into medical school, so now is the perfect time to give it a fresh new update.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but your first task will be to scrap a lot of the stuff already on there. Though it was probably hard-earned and has served you well in the past, going forward, no one cares about your GCSE grades or the work experience you did at a GP practice.
You will want to include several new sections on your CV, which you can learn about here.
🩺 Choose your referees
You will need to provide at least one reference for every position on your CV. Whoever you chose to act as your referees going forward may be doing a lot of work on your behalf in the years to come, so it is worth thinking hard about who you ask.
How to choose referees:
🔹 Ask permission before listing someone on your CV as a referee.
🔹 Make sure that your referee remembers you clearly and fondly.
🔹 Pre-prepare a letter of recommendation for consultants to edit and sign.
— If you don’t think they will remember you (i.e. you only worked with them for a short time), or you think that they may be hard to get in touch with in the future (i.e. they spend several months overseas) consider pre-writing a letter of reference for them to edit and sign. Include the dates that you worked in the role that they are referencing you for, and the key tasks and responsibilities that you held while you were in the role. Keep a digital and two hard copies for your portfolio.
🔹 Choose a candidate with good coverage..
— People who oversaw your development for the year can vouch for your work in a number of positions (i.e educational supervisors or foundation programme directors) so consider asking them to be your referees. Medical HR or rota-coordinators, in a pinch, may be able to act as proof that you have done the work that you claim on your CV but it is better to use a consultant colleague if possible.
🏥 Broaden your clinical experience
Having a breadth of experience in different departments means that your options for finding locum work are better. If you are planning on moving trusts when you finish F2, then note that some hospitals won’t let you locum in departments where you have no experience. Therefore, using your F2 year to gain experience in as many specialties as possible is a helpful way of investing your time well.
ED, Paeds, ITU and Psychiatry often require you to have previous work experience in these departments in order for you to get work there as a locum, though the most common locum jobs on offer are (based on information from our national database) are ED and Acute medicine, General Medicine and General Surgery, T&O, and Elderly Care.
Signing up to your hospital staff bank is generally very quick if you are already employed at the trust, and taking some shifts over the course of your F2 year gets you locum experience (which agencies and staff banks may like to see on your CV) and expands the scope of where you can work in the future. Just make sure that you get a reference for each department that you work in so that you can add it to your CV.
🙌 Add skills and certifications to your resume
You may want to make the most of your F2 study budget and study days to attend courses that could provide you with extra skills. Check out this article here for ideas on which courses may help you as a locum. EPALS and ATLS are two common specialist ones. You should be getting ALS this year (if you don't already have it) through your F2 requirements.
🧠 Prepare yourself mentally
It's common to have worried about what life will be like as a locum doctor once you finish F2.
Here is a step-by-step guide for actions that you can take during your F2 year to combat locum anxiety, which will not add too much stress to an already busy work schedule. You can read more about locuming as a foundation doctor here.
✅ Step 1:
Sign up for your trust staff bank at the start of F2. You are not under any obligation to take shifts, but getting familiar with receiving emails and offers will get you used to the onslaught of please and requests that are to come.
✅ Step 2:
Agree to one or two shifts in a department that you have recent experience in. You will already know the processes and team members but will be coming at it with a new attitude. As a locum, you are there to support the team in their acute needs, not to focus on your learning or optimising the department in the long-term. Practice coming in with the energy and enthusiasm required of a locum, and handing over all of your outstanding tasks and responsibilities at the end of the day, never to look back.
✅ Step 3:
Agree to a few shifts in a department that you want or need experience in. You can do these in a short run or over a few weeks but try and focus on being adaptable, useful, and calm. Make sure that you get a reference for the work you have done in this department so that you can add the information to your CV.
As you come to the end of your F2 year, the number of things you need to do to prepare for life as an F3 locum will ramp up. If you are in the last 3 months of your F2 year, then check out this article here for a breakdown of how to prepare for starting as a locum.
🔆 There is a lot you can do as an F2 to prepare for locuming as an F3.
🔆 Deciding how you want to get paid is a big decision and warrants further research.
🔆 Updating your CV is essential and Messly’s webinar can help run you through how to do this.
🔆 Getting the right references is key to obtaining locum work in the future.
🔆 Having experience in key specialties will optimise your chances of getting locum work as an F3.
🔆 Using your F2 study allowance can provide you with extra skills.
🔆 Slowly transitioning to locum work can help fight anxiety as a locum.
🔆 Sign up to our F3 workbook webinar to tackle some of the bigger questions around F3 years
Keep planning your F3 year with these articles:
👉 Planning Your F3 Year: A Timeline
❓ To F3 or not to F3?
💡 Your F3 Options Explained
Your Ultimate Guide to Succeeding as a Locum Doctor
This article is part of a wider series of resources and guides that are designed to support you as a locum doctor, covering areas such as getting your first job, managing your finances, understanding your rights, and many more. Visit our Locum Doctor Hub for everything you need to know about locuming today.
Additionally, if you're considering an F3 year, you might also find it useful to look through the selection of resources we've put together in our F3 Resource Hub.”
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