Your guide to taking an F3 year with A&E Agency

Thursday, July 22, 2021

A recent survey conducted by UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) revealed that the number of F2 doctors choosing to progress directly into specialty training is on the decline. The report also determined that there has been a slight reduction in the number of F2 trainees opting to move abroad after completing foundation training. With the rise in taking a break from training and the decline in doctors relocating overseas, the term "F3" has gained popularity to account for taking this time out to focus on other areas. So why are we talking about this? In this article, we discuss just some of the many options available to doctors who are taking an F3 year and address some FAQs from our doctors. 

Read out latest guide How to plan and prepare your F3 year.

Why take an F3 year?

More and more doctors are choosing to take a year out after their Foundation training to be able to pursue an F3 year. Doctors take F3 years for a variety of reasons which we will outline below but there are options available so suit all circumstances. Whether you need some extra time, extra money or just a break from training, we have new and exciting opportunities available with us every day. 

Some doctors take a short break and commence training from February, some take the full year and head back into training the following August and occasionally an F3 year extends for another year to allow more time to reflect on what you want and how to achieve that or just to continue enjoying the time away from the traditional training route. We have been asking and listening to what our doctors are saying about this, so we're sharing some of the most popular reasons we've found as to why doctors choose to work as a locum and take up some of our more unique opportunities and some in niche areas of medicine, including: 

  • Exclusive research opportunities
  • International cruise ship vacancies
  • Functional assessor roles
  • Medical placements at private healthcare clinics, hospitals and more


Working as a locum doctor

Working as a locum doctor is just one option during your F3 year. Other options include working for the trust bank at one hospital where you can fill any gaps the rota and picking up a long-term NHS trust grade or clinical fellowship role. Here are the top reasons doctors choose to work as an agency locum doctor:

Gain extra experience and skills in your desired specialty

Working as an agency locum doctor has the advantage and convenience of registering with one organisation but being able to work at NHS trusts all over the UK. This is a great option for doctors who want to enhance their skills in a particular area and work in a few different hospitals to solidify that this is the training route they want to proceed with in their foundation training.


One of the most popular reasons for joining as an agency locum is to spend six months working and saving as much money as possible and then spending the other six months travelling solo or with friends. Whether that be Asia, South America, Australia, New Zealand and beyond, we love hearing your stories and recommendations upon your return. Last year was a bit of an anomaly but hopefully by February 2022, travel restrictions will have been lifted and the adventures can continue.

Spending time with friends and family

The flexibility of working as a locum allows more control of the days, shift patterns and times that you work. This means that you don’t have to miss those special occasions with friends and family or arrange swaps and cover, you simply choose not to pick up a shift that day. Some of our locum doctors have told us that during their F3 year it’s the first time they have been able to celebrate special occasions and festive celebrations without being subject to a rota line.  


The flexibility of working as a locum doctor provides more time to study for exams or training modules, both outside of your medical career or to give you an advantage when applying for training roles. One of our private clients has a requirement for all locum doctors to have in date advanced life support (ALS), advanced trauma life support (ATLS) and advanced paediatric life support (APLS) which may require time to study and prepare for. The courses are also highly in demand so being able to attend a course last minute gives you more options to secure your place. Having these courses not gives you the opportunity to book into unique locum placements but can add more value to your skills, experience and CV.

Lucrative Pay

The pay for working as a bank doctor or agency locum is generally higher than a training, trust grade or clinical fellow role. You are paid hourly and for any extra hours that you work, unlike a salaried role. Some doctors use this time to save as much money as possible for a deposit on a house, a car, bucket-list holiday or a luxury splurge.


Working with A&E Agency

We have been supporting doctors in their locum journey for the last 15 years. We are continually updating our processes to ensure our doctors have a straightforward and pleasant experience with us from your initial phone call, through registration and compliance, to booking and payment.

We have invested in technology to ensure complete flexibility during the registration process, you can submit your documents, complete your interview or study any additional training modules, 24 hours a day. If you prefer to speak to the someone on the phone, we have specialist teams available to book in with, you can navigate and book a call using our virtual assistant, Emily, or contact us here.

It is important to consider how to demonstrate ongoing professional development with locum posts, as that will be required for appraisal and future training applications. We have an experienced appraisal and revalidation team who can guide you through this process to ensure you have everything you need in preparation for the future.


What can the A&E Agency offer during an F3 year?

We are a framework agency which means we have been approved as a supplier at all the NHS trusts in the UK. Whether you want to work in Medicine, Surgery, A&E, Paediatrics, Anaesthetics or Obstetrics and Gynaecology, we have shifts and longer-term jobs available nationwide.

If you are looking for something a little bit different, we have been working on expanding our portfolio to offer you unique opportunities outside of the NHS

Working abroad

With travel restrictions still in place and constantly changing all over the world, working abroad seemed like a pipedream. We are currently supporting an international cruise liner in finding ship physicians to cover their fleet in Asia, Europe and America over the next few months. This exciting opportunity does have specific requirements for the right candidate so please get in touch if you’d like to learn more.


We have been working with several prestigious clinical research organisations to find a high number of qualified clinicians for complex trials all over the UK. This opportunity is great for doctors who have a keen interest in research or those who want to strengthen their CV and learn valuable skills which can be utilised in any setting. Previous experience in clinical research is desirable but not compulsory, these opportunities tend to go very quickly so please get in touch today if you’d like to discuss the work available. 

Explore career options/non-medical

As well as exploring medical options outside of the NHS, some doctors want to pursue non-medical careers such as training to be a personal trainer, a nutritionist, starting a property portfolio, producing music and DJing or starting their own business. Working as a locum doctor allows time to support these interests without losing clinical skills.

What are the next steps for me?

The process to register with us for locum work is straight forward, you will be sent a welcome email which will prompt you to complete and send in the compliance documents. Once we have all the documents on file, your dedicated recruitment consultant will be able to offer you suitable roles, liaise with the trusts or employers and secure you the best placement available. Most trusts pay weekly but there are some exceptions which your recruitment consultant will make you aware of before you accept the position.

If you are thinking about taking an F3 year or have any questions about the type of work we have mentioned, you can use our virtual assistant, Emily, to navigate your query to the right team and we will give you a call back. Alternatively, you can register with A&E Agency or you can contact us here and we will be happy to help.