Why I Decided to Spend my F3 as a Clinical Fellow

During my F2 year, I didn’t have a set idea of what specialty I wanted to apply for and what avenue of medicine I wanted to eventually end up in. At the top of my list was applying for IMT with the idea of going into Endocrinology, or Anaesthetics potentially with Intensive Care Medicine. However, I was aware that I had limited experiences in both and therefore didn’t want to jump into applying without getting more experience. For me, there wasn’t a rush to begin a training programme and so taking a year out to do an ‘F3’ seemed like the logical option.

My options were to; locum, work abroad or become a trust grade/clinical fellow. Although the idea of doing locums and being able to work in a variety of specialties of my choosing seemed tempting, I realised I would find it difficult to not have a set idea of my future shifts and income. My next option of working abroad proved difficult to organise as we entered a pandemic, so I set to finding clinical fellow positions through NHS jobs. I was lucky enough to obtain a 6-12 month job in Intensive Care Medicine at Bath Hospital.

I chose Intensive Care as I hadn’t had much experience within the specialty during my Foundation Years. Even if it wasn’t something I decided to pursue long term, the experience and clinical skills I would develop would be invaluable and transferable to whatever specialty I did end up in.

Clinical Fellow in Intensive Care Medicine

Entering the world of Intensive Care Medicine was daunting as it was considerably different to any of the other jobs I had done as a foundation doctor. The number of SHO’s on the rota had been increased with the expectation that we would require more doctors if and when we entered a second ‘wave’ of the pandemic. Therefore, there were lots of people around to help and support us as we adjusted.

Intensive Care is a very well supported, senior led specialty. Consultants and registrars within my unit are encouraging of the juniors asking lots of questions, allowing for many impromptu and bedside teaching sessions. There is also the expectation that we will develop and become competent with clinical skills such as central line and arterial line insertion, and seniors are keen to support juniors learning these skills until we are signed off as able to do them unsupervised.

As a Clinical Fellow I was assigned an Educational Supervisor who helped me get the most out of the job and involved with teaching sessions, workshops, QI projects and audits. There is time in the rota to be non-clinical and work on these. The benefit to being in a non-training post meant there wasn’t pressure on getting things signed off for a portfolio, but still having access to the same opportunities as those in a training programme.

I am glad that I took an F3 as I am now more certain that I would like to apply for ACCS Anaesthetics and feel that the experience I have had within this post has given me a good initial insight into the critical care aspect of the anaesthetics training programme.

Written by Dr. Bhavna Bhalla 29/11/2020