Abstract Objectives This study considered a novel ‘interim’ transitional role for new doctors (termed ‘FiY1’, interim Foundation Year 1), bridging medical school and Foundation Programme (FP). Research questions considered effects on doctors’ well-being and perceived preparedness, and influences on their experience of transition. While FiY1 was introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, findings have wider and ongoing relevance. Design A sequential mixed-methods study involved two questionnaire phases, followed by semi-structured interviews. In phase 1, questionnaires were distributed to doctors in FiY1 posts, and in phase 2, to all new FP doctors, including those who had not undertaken FiY1. Setting and participants Participants were newly qualified doctors from UK medical schools, working in UK hospitals in 2020. 77% (n=668) of all participants across all phases had undertaken FiY1 before starting FP in August. The remainder started FP in August with varying experience beforehand. Outcome measures Questionnaires measured preparedness for practice, stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, identity, and tolerance of ambiguity. Interviews explored participants’ experiences in more depth. Results Analysis of questionnaires (phase 1 n=441 FiY1s, phase 2 n=477 FiY1s, 196 non-FiY1s) indicated that FiY1s felt more prepared than non-FiY1 colleagues for starting FP in August (β=2.71, 95% CI=2.21 to 3.22, p<0.0001), which persisted to October (β=1.85, CI=1.28 to 2.41, p<0.0001). Likelihood of feeling prepared increased with FiY1 duration (OR=1.02, CI=1.00 to 1.03, p=0.0097). Despite challenges to well-being during FiY1, no later detriment was apparent. Thematic analysis of interview data (n=22) identified different ways, structural and interpersonal, in which the FiY1 role enhanced doctors’ emerging independence supported by systems and colleagues, providing ‘supported autonomy’. Conclusions An explicitly transitional role can benefit doctors as they move from medical school to independent practice. We suggest that the features of supported autonomy are those of institutionalised liminality—a structured role ‘betwixt and between’ education and practice—and this lens may provide a guide to optimising the design of such posts.



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BMJ Open







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Peninsula Medical School