Returning to medicine

Returning to work after maternity leave or after a period of illness (or if you have had some time away for another reason) can seem quite daunting, but remember that you are not the first doctor to be in this position.

Returning to work

You may not have opened a medical journal since your last job or feel you are ready to start performing practical procedures right away. Here are some ideas that can help you boost your confidence:

  • approach a specific trust (either a local trust or one you have previously worked in) and ask to do an unpaid clinical attachment for a couple of weeks to reacclimatise
  • on starting, if you are not in a training post with an educational supervisor, ask for a mentor to discuss a personal development plan
  • request to go on a course to update your skills
  • talk to other doctors that have been in this position
  • remind yourself of all your accomplishments to date and remember you are a qualified doctor!
  • don’t try too hard to do everything - remember to give yourself a break from time to time (this applies to ‘work’ at home, for example housework, as well as your professional work)
  • keep a ‘reflective diary’ of your daily achievements. This will help you to look back on events and the achievements which you did well and are proud of. It can also help you to think about ways to improve your work, and to think about how you may be able to do something better next time

Supported Return to Training Programme

Health Education England (HEE) has developed the Supported Return to Training Programme (SuppoRTT) to help trainees based in England when returning to training. Download the Supported Return to Training booklet. Please contact your local HEE Office/Deanery SuppoRTT team if you are:

  • a trainee or foundation programme doctor who has a National Training Number (NTN) or Foundation Programme Number (FPN)
  • a doctor appointed to a training post, who will be allocated a National Training Number (NTN) or Foundation Programme Number (FPN) in the future

You may also like to contact the relevant royal college for advice and support. 

GMC registration and licence for those returning to medicine

Any doctor who has been out of practice should contact the GMC for specific advice on their situation. This is because the rules are complex and subject to change. 

Any foundation doctor thinking of applying to a training programme should refer to the current Medical Specialty Recruitment Applicant Handbook - it changes every year. Visit the Oriel website resource bank to view the latest version.

General practice

The General Practice National Recruitment Office has details of the GP induction and Refresher Scheme. This operates in England and Wales and enables GPs who have taken a break to return to work

If you have worked overseas as a GP this scheme will enable you to have your experience gained abroad recognised.

You’ll have the opportunity to integrate your previous skills into the current NHS and you’ll also be given learning opportunities to bring your skills to the required level.

This scheme can involve a supervised placement of up to six months in a GP practice to build up skills and restore confidence, Bursaries are also available.

Working less than full time

See our information on LTFT training.


The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has published information for those returning to practice. Find out more and download the guidance.

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