Career breaks and enforced career decisions

There may be times when personal commitments take priority over work and career break is preferred or becomes a necessity.

For this reason, each NHS trust will have a career breaks policy in place. Most trusts require staff to have a minimum of 12 months’ continuous service to be eligible to apply for a career break. Where possible, applications should be made as far in advance as possible of the applicant wishing to start a career break, with the minimum notice period normally being three months.

Reasons for a career break

  • care and/or responsibility for children
  • care and/or responsibility for other dependants
  • personal study, training and development (which is relevant to operational/service needs of the trust)
  • other appropriate reasons, which may include travel or voluntary work.

Those wishing to undertake a career break should seek guidance from their employing trust.

Return to work following a career break

Returning paediatricians should be supported with a formal return to work programme. The RCPCH supports the principles outlined in the Academy of Medical Royal College’s publication, Return to Practice Guidance (2012 edition under review) and recommends that doctors considering a break from practice or planning to return from a break should use the planning tools in their guidance with support from their employers, human resources and training departments, deaneries, appraisers and supervisors, as appropriate. 

Doctors returning to work after a period of remediation are advised to refer to specific remediation guidance provided by their employing organisation/deanery on the subject, although the resources already referenced may also benefit doctors going through remediation.

Find out more on return to work

Enforced career breaks

Sometimes doctors have career changes enforced upon them. This might be because their local clinical service is reconfigured and so their post moves to another trust, changes made significantly within the trust they are working, or rarely trust/clinical serive ceases to exist e.g. closing of unit.  Other causes for an unplanned career change are ill health preventing a doctor from working or altering what they are capable of doing, family ill health, spouse/partner job move and finally, and thankfully rarely, GMC restrictions on practice.

Any cause for an enforced career change can be very stressful and difficult to manage.  While it is important to always see change as bringing opportunity, there is no doubt that such a time in life can pose unprecedented challenges.

Informal help and advice may be found from colleagues but there may also be significant advantage to accessing professional help, or support from a mentor.