::Career options: an overview::
Flexible Careers Scheme
This is a relatively new scheme, and allows you to have a fixed contract for 1 to 5 sessions (a session is a morning or afternoon, typically about 4 hours). You can then choose to work extra sessions as a locum, work Out of hours (OOH) or work the odd session in a hospital (very flexible, hence the name!). This is also attractive to the practice as they get reimbursed part of your salary costs by the PCT. Contracts are for 3 years and include protected time for Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
GP Retainer Scheme
This scheme often suits those who wish to work part time only. You can work a maximum of four sessions, and if you wish to do extra work, this must be approved. Practices get some of your salary costs reimbursed, and contracts are usually for 5 years. The contract includes protected time for CPD.
Out of Hours GP
Many GPs still do some OOH work as it is now well paid, and you can often choose shifts that suit you. This may be an attractive option for new GPs to combine with another option (e.g. salaried or one of the part time schemes). However, some doctors may choose to work for some time as full time OOH doctors, working for PCT or one of the private companies that have taken over OOH provision in some areas. This is extremely well paid (up to £140k per year for 40 hours per week), but the downside is that you will always be working in the evenings and weekends, in what can be a more stressful environment than daytime practice. Working nights / weekends may suit some people (to fit in with family commitments), and there is usually scope to work part time if necessary.
Options, options, options.
As you can see, the end of your VTS is just the beginning of a new journey in General Practice. You have many choices, and your preference may change as your circumstances do. Remember that choosing one option does not usually close the others off to you, so you may locum for a few months to earn some money and see how different practices work, before taking a salaried job for a year or two and then move on to a partnership.
For the more adventurous amongst you, you might think about working abroad, volunteering in the developing world, or even combining luxury travel with work by becoming a ships doctor. These options are looked at in another article.
There is no "one size fits all" solution, and you should discuss some of these options with your trainer a few months before the end of your GP Registrar year.You can see some job opportunities available now in our Jobs section.