Sex, Lives and Red Tape

OOP: what’s it all about?

My experience of applying for OOP (that is, time spent Out Of Programme for registrars on medical training programmes) was somewhat complicated and challenging… And much of this challenge stemmed from a poor understanding of the ins and outs of OOP. My case was initially declined; however I challenged the decision,re-outlined my case which led to review and approval.

I’ve had a number of registrars ask me about how I went about applying, my experience and what advice I would pass onto others. So here is an overview of what I think all registrars and supervisors ought to know about OOP.

What is OOP?

All registrars on medical training programmes (including public health specialty registrars) are able to apply for time Out Of Programme (OOP). The maximum time you can apply for is 36 months. Approved time OOP can, but doesn’t have to contribute to your training time for CCT (this should be negotiated prospectively). So there are two negotiations which need to take place; a) can you have time OOP and b) will this contribute to your CCT.

How many different types of OOP are there?

There are 4 different types:

  1. Time out of programme for approved clinical training (OOPT)
  2. Time out of programme for clinical experience (OOPE)
  3. Time out of programme for research (OOPR)
  4. Time out of programme for career breaks (OOPC)

When can I apply for OOP?

The Gold Guide states that you need to be registered on a medical training programme (evidenced by having a National Training Number (NTN)) and have been training in your specialty for at least 12 months. However in some cases registrars are able to negotiate OOP time prior to starting training – check out the Gold Guide for further information on this.

What do I need to know before applying?

There are three things I would advise you to become familiar with.

  1. The Gold Guide; this outlines differences between the 4 types of OOP.
  2. OOP policy of your LETB / Training Programme; this will inform you of the local process to apply and timescales (beware – some areas require approval 6 months before the anticipated start date).
  3. FPH has some useful guidance on their website to support how you can approach an OOP application, available here

What makes a successful OOP application?

With perseverance, success is possible

From my experience, I believe the following are important in order to have your application approved:

  • Be clear about what you will gain from this time out in regards to your learning and development as a public health professional. Will this OOP support your future career, goals and aspirations?
  • Be clear about your anticipated timelines (when would OOP start, when would you return to training, would training milestones be affected) and consider how this could fit with your planned training.
  • Provide evidence of having progressed satisfactorily to date (e.g. ARCP outcomes, passing exams within phase milestones).
  • Consider why you need OOP to get this learning. Your training programme will need to be convinced that you would not be able to get this experience in-programme.
  • Consider how the training programme might benefit. For example, will you share your experience and learning with others? Will you be able to use your skills and experience to contribute to the programme when you return?

If you get knocked back but feel you have a good case, don’t give up!

Ensure decisions are documented; request for the outcome and reasons for the decision to be written in a letter or e-mail. Ensure your challenge is documented clearly in writing. Note and get support from people who are supportive of your case (educational supervisors, academic supervisors, mentors…etc). The decision process can take some time, however it is worth persevering. Remember that it is your training experience at the end of the day – so it is worth fighting for!

Further information:

The Gold Guide (4th Edition)

Faculty of Public Health: Out Of Programme Experience


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This entry was posted on October 17, 2013 by in Career, PhD, Public Health Specialty Training and tagged , , , .