The Medical Student Career Handbook

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Summary of review

When I bought the Medical Student Career Handbook, I was hoping for something that would lay out the career paths for some of the specialities, and help me make a decision on my future career (if only to rule out some of the choices!)

I was a little disappointed, although if you delve a little deeper there is some useful content. It doesn’t particularly focus on specialities, but instead outlines the process of foundation application (with a particularly helpful timeline diagram too!), the basics of what foundation training involves (including what pay and conditions you can expect), and some general common sense advice on maximising your career chances, and making the most of careers fairs, websites, support groups and organisations.

The section specifically on the specialities was the reason I bought the book, but was thoroughly disappointing. This section contains a collection of personal opinions by consultants in their field about their day to day life in the hospital, and is mostly waffle. I was really hoping for a more objective approach outlining the benefits and drawbacks, as well as training paths for each of the specialities.
However, once I got over my initial disappointment, there is actually quite a bit of useful info hidden in the other chapters. For example, the information on foundation applications is succinct and useful, although is essentially just a summary of the documentation on the UKFPO website. 
Generally, content is well laid out, with suitable boxes, tables and graphs interspersed throughout, and you wouldn’t feel put off just starting at page 1 and reading your way through.
There are also some pictures, which are quite frankly a little strange. I suppose it’s nice to break up the text, and some of them are a little comical, but they either look like they have been drawn on MS paint, or drawn by hand, and then scanned in on an old desktop scanner – not exactly in keeping with the rest of the professional appearance of the book.
Not quite what I expected, but does have some useful info, and is a good starting point to get a feel about what a career as an NHS doctor involves. Keen students will be able to find most of the information elsewhere online, but this brings it all together quite nicely, albeit with a bit of waffle in some sections.
It’s unlikely to help you chose a career path, but does outline the processes FY1 applications and junior doctor pay and working conditions.
I would also be a little cautious that it will quickly become out of date, especially as the foundation application process is due to change, and career training is changing all the time.
Review by Tom Leach
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