Boyle et al 1 have highlighted some of the important positive aspects of foundation year placements in influencing career choice into psychiatry. The jubilant article carries an optimistic account from trainers and trainees who share the champagne of successful mentoring. Unfortunately, the darker side of wider experience while seeking foundation placements in psychiatry has been overlooked.
The number of places available for FY1 and FY2 placements in psychiatry are very limited, and as of now not representational of subsequent requirements the specialty has during core training. There is an urgent need for such ‘potential demand’ v. supply statistics to be made clear and compared across various specialties. The perennial recruitment issue could be seen in correct perspective when level playing fields are ensured following the implementation of Modernising Medical Careers.
Despite being a trainee with significant interest in exploring psychiatry as a career choice, the placements in my current FY2 rotation were ready-made with no element of choice. On the wake of Boyle et al's account, it is important to solicit and analyse national data on foundation placements in psychiatry and rate of conversion into core psychiatric training. Creating such foundation maps of potential psychiatry placements across deaneries may help interested trainees to plan their careers. One could argue that psychiatry must be given more foundation slots than some relatively oversubscribed specialties.
If one is allowed to make a deduction from personal experience, most specialties look at foundation doctors as inconsequential cogs in the churning wheel of hospital machinery. Very few minutes in the 120 days of a foundation placement are spent in motivating the trainee to consider a specific specialty career. In addition, the educational meetings and professional activities in most hospital units tend to concentrate either on core trainees or making a ‘safe doctor’ out of foundation trainees. There is an immense hidden potential for psychiatry to convert a substantial number of hesitant doctors into promising and passionate specialists for the future, if some collective and timely effort is taken to recognise the prospect here.
Bearing in mind that at least a quarter of all psychiatrists explore other specialties before choosing psychiatry as their career, 2 making foundation year psychiatry more accessible will serve our recruitment cause a great deal.