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Taster weeks were introduced to give newly qualified doctors (foundation doctors) an opportunity to experience a wider variety of specialties.1 Foundation doctors have the opportunity to experience up to six specialties as part of their 2-year training, with restrictions to include at least one medical specialty, one surgical specialty and one specialty based in the community. As there are over 60 specialties and 30 subspecialties,2 some foundation doctors may not have the opportunity to experience more niche specialties, tertiary hospital care, or even primary care. Additionally, applications to specialist training open a third of the way through foundation year two and this reduces exposure to specialties further.3
This is important as exposure to a specialty has been shown to affect the career decision of doctors.4 Thus, taster weeks are encouraged by the UK Foundation Programme as a part of career development.5 They consist of 2–5 days in a specialty chosen by the foundation doctor and are designed to give the foundation doctor insight into what a future career in that specialty would entail. Moreover, the taster weeks do not have to be in clinical practice but can also be completed in education and research.5
As well as informing career decisions, they are also important for applications at core training, as demonstrated by the person specifications in medicine and surgery.6 7
The Collins Report evaluated the Foundation Programme and found that only 5% of foundation year two and 1% of foundation year one doctors undertake a taster week primarily due to issues with accessibility. This is problematic as in 68% of cases, the foundation doctor is the one to initiate the process.1 Subsequently, a majority of doctors are missing out on a vital learning opportunity and this is in part due to minimal …
Twitter Matthew H V Byrne @mhvbyrne
Contributors MHVB and RN were responsible for conceptualisation, writing the first draft and all revisions.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.