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Out of Programme Pause Initiative

During their specialty training, doctors who have been registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) for two years or more have an option to step out of their training programme for up to 24 months to pursue alternative positions or experiences that are not part of their current programme.

Trainees who previously pursued such Out of Programme (OOP) options reported frustration at the inability to count their experiences towards their certificate of completion of training (CCT). In response, a new OOP-Pause initiative is being piloted across all Health Education England (HEE) regions. The new OOP-Pause is innovative in that, upon their return, trainees are able to be assessed on any competencies gained whilst out of their formal training. As a result, the negative impact of OOP-Pause on obtaining the certificate of completion of training is minimised.

Commissioned by HEE, we will be conducting an in-depth evaluation to capture the impact of OOP-Pause on trainee retention, wellbeing, impact on supervisors and employers and service provision. Outcomes of the evaluation are intended to inform the future direction of OOP-Pause.

The specific research questions are:

  • To report on trainees’ experience and satisfaction with OOP-Pause and its impact on wellbeing (burnout)
  • To explore the different motives among trainees for pursuing the OOP-Pause, including comparisons of trainees that applied for OOP-Pause before and after the COVID-19 pandemic
  • To elicit the satisfaction and wellbeing among peers working alongside trainees upon their return from OOP-Pause
  • To investigate views of employers on hosting OOP-Pause placements and managing return to training
  • To identify the impact of OOP-Pause on trainers and explore their capacity to support trainees and their experience of the gap analysis tool
  • To analyse uptake of OOP-Pause opportunities and impact on service provision in terms of retention
Lead contactAlison Bullock
FunderHealth Education England