Trainee Support

Trainee Support Guide.pdf846.73 KB
External and Internal Sources of Support.pdf68.46 KB

If a trainee feels that s/he is struggling/experiencing difficulties s/he should contact their foundation training programme director as soon as possible so that appropriate support/advice can be provided.

Trust Foundation Faculty Groups meet on a regular basis and will update the STFS director on any trainees experiencing difficulties, so that additional support can be considered.

Further information about the process used to manage trainees in difficulty is available in the STFS "Support for Trainees in Difficulty Guide". (This guide is available to download on the right hand side of this page and applies to foundation doctors in both KSS and South London trusts).

Foundation doctors in STFS programmes are supported by the Training Support Service at Health Education England's Kent, Surrey and Sussex team (HEKSS). More information about the Training Support Service can be found here.

Sources of Support

a. Provided by your NHS trust

Support is available from your NHS trust, these are some of the places that are here to help:  

• Educational Supervisor/training programme director

• Postgraduate centre team including Medical Education Manager

• Clinical Supervisor

• Head of School

• Occupational Health

• Trust’s employee assistance programme

• Medical staffing

b. Linked to health and wellbeing

Practitioner Health Programme           

A free service for doctors, who have mental or physical health concerns and/or addiction problems and who live and work in the KSS and London areas.

PHP treat all self-referrals from doctors with the strictest confidence. If you are a trainee in an STFS foundation training programme, please identify to PHP that you are a 'KSS-managed' trainee (STFS is linked to HEKSS) to ensure that you are eligible for their services and that your support will be correctly funded. No identifiable information is passed from PHP to HEKSS (or STFS) about the doctors they support. 

BMA Counselling Service

BMA Counselling Service provides 24/7 telephone counselling by qualified counsellors  


Is a charity which specifically offers support for disabled doctors  

Doctors’ Support Network

This network provides on-going confidential advice and support to doctors with mental health problems. All calls are dealt with by doctors  

Medical Women’s Federation

(For women only) MWF members can sign up to be mentors or mentee in the organisation’s mentoring scheme  

Medical Royal College – Mentoring Scheme

Various Royal Colleges have mentoring schemes for their specialty  


Getting the work/life balance right, handling pressure, dealing with career, health and financial issues. These are just some of the challenges you may be facing as a doctor. Support4Doctors offers independent information, advice and support.  

c. Available to educational supervisors

A document summarising a range of external support services available to STFS FTPDs/educational supervisors is available to download on the right hand side of this page. Most of these sources of support are not provided in-house but are provided by external providers. Confidentiality is ensured for all of the support sessions. If FTPDs/educational supervisors would like to make use of these resources please contact STFS.

Practical and financial support for doctors on sick leave

Rosie Puplett, a foundation doctor from Severn, has produced a guide on practical and financial support for doctors who are on sick leave. Rosie is happy for this to be shared with other Foundation Schools and for them to make local amendments on the basis that her authorship is acknowledged.

Dr Michael Peters, Head of Doctors for Doctors unit, BMA has said:

“Dr Puplett gives sound and sensible advice on coping with illness as a junior doctor. It is important to seek help early and to try and behave like any other patient, and seek advice from your GP or occupational health department. The BMA also offers support through a Counselling and Doctor Advisor service which you can find out about here”.

Please click here to download the guidance.

Being a trainee requiring additional support

"When I was an F1 I felt that I wasn’t good enough to be a doctor. I constantly felt out of my depth and felt that everyone else coped better than me. My registrar and consultants were all supportive and accessible and looking back I realise that I was probably a pretty good and efficient F1. When I started as an F2, however, I felt that I couldn’t cope. I was working in quite an isolated location and had personal problems, and my confidence suffered a severe knockback. I felt that I was not good enough to be a doctor, although I realise now that this was my own perception and not a real reflection of my abilities.

Things became so bad that I could no longer continue. Fortunately support was available and I saw one of the STFS directors, who arranged for me to take some time out and also to see a careers advisor, who helped me understand that I did still want to do medicine. As doctors we feel that we should be infallible and we don’t like to admit to our weaknesses, but after speaking to other doctors I now realise that many of my colleagues have felt like me at some time. We don’t always have all the answers but the most important thing is to talk to other people and not suffer in silence if you are struggling. The safe doctors are those who ask for help when they are out of their depth, and know their limitations. If you ask there is usually someone who has been there before.

I was able to complete the F2 year on a part time basis, within a supportive environment, and this gave me time to rebuild my confidence. I am eternally grateful to the support given to me by STFS and my educational supervisors. I have recently passed Part 1 MRCOG and am now enjoying working as an ST1 in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Because I struggled as an F2 I feel that this has made me more supportive of medical students and F1s. Being a doctor isn’t easy but it is worthwhile and I am grateful that I was given the time and support that I needed."

Foundation Doctor 2006-9