Out of Programme Experience

Out of Programme Experience

Have you identified something that you would like to do for six months, a year or longer, that will mean you need to take time out of your current training programme?

The overall purpose of time Out of Programme (OOP) is to allow trainees to take up opportunities that their training programme would otherwise prevent.


Tell me more about time Out of Programme

There are four types of OOP (which can also all be referred to by the one name, Out of Programme Experience OOPE):

OOPT Out of Programme Experience for Training - has approval from the GMC and will contribute towards obtaining your CCT.
OOPE Out of Programme Experience for Clinical Experience - has not received approval from GMC for contribution towards a trainees CCT.
OOPR Out of Programme Experience for Research - including a registerable higher degree) can be up to three years.
OOPC Out of Programme Experience for a career break - e.g. to work in industry, for domestic responsibilities or for ill health reasons.

To get the full details on OOPEs, you should refer to the Gold Guide (if you started your training after August 2007) and the Orange Guide (if you started your training before August 2007) in detail as they set out the rules for undertaking time OOP. The Gold Guide contains more specific details on the process and most Deaneries/LETBs follow this process.

You should also review your Deanery/LETB website for guidance specific to your region.


Will my time OOP contribute towards my Certificate of Completion of Training?

An OOP will only count towards your CCT you undertake an Out of Programme Experience for Training (OOPT). In this instance, approval will be provided in advance from the GMC.

You will need to be very clear with the Deanery about whether the time you are taking out will or will not count towards your training and your CCT and therefore the length of your training programme.


How do I apply?

To apply for an OOP experience, you will need to follow the process described on your Deanery website for guidance specific to your region.

If you are undertaking an OOPT, your Deanery will apply for approval to the GMC. The GMC is the only body which can give, amend or withdraw training approval for any OOP intended to lead to the award of CCT. The GMC will not accept applications for OOP directly from the trainees or the respective colleges.

You do not need to consult with the GMC if your time OOP is not to count towards the award of CCT. Full details of the GMC approval process is available on their website. 


When should I apply?

Your Deanery will normally want you to have been in your current training programme for at least a year before you can apply for time OOP.

Deferring the start of your training programme is slightly different, and Deans will not normally agree to deferment except on statutory grounds like maternity, or for time to complete a higher degree, though you may have to be in a programme and apply for OOPR to do this, rather than deferring.


How long can I be Out of Programme?

This will depend on the nature of the project or task you are undertaking. You will be asked to declare your return date in your application to your Deanery.

As a rough guide, an OOP will normally be up to two years, however, for longer periods and with OOPR, you should discuss this with your Deanery at the time of making an application.

If the nature of your OOP changes you must notify your Deanery as soon as possible. They may be obliged to return to the GMC for approval for contribution towards CCT and therefore you should do this as soon as possible.

At the time of application, your Deanery will be able to confirm if you are to retain your NTN number.

Removal of your NTN during time Out of Programme

The Gold Guide mentions the specific occasion where the Deanery may believe that you have breached the conditions under which you have retained your NTN during time OOP or working overseas, for instance. They may write to you to inform you that you have had your NTN removed.

In this situation, contact the BMA on 0300 123 123 3 or use the enquiry form urgently to discuss your situation. In some circumstances, you may be able to appeal this with the Postgraduate Dean. This is a very rare situation and each case will be determined on its individual merits.


How do I ensure my return to training?

You must adhere to guidelines set by your Deanery to ensure that your training posts is still available when you return, in particular to the specifications imposed by your Deanery and GMC particularly with regards to the nature of your work undertaken OOP and your obligations to keep the Deanery up to date (including for ARCP/RITA purposes) during your time OOP.

You should also ensure adequate notice of your intention to return to work and provide at least six months notice of your intended return to work.


What if my application for time Out of Programme is refused?

If your application for time OOP is refused or the GMC will not approve your time OOP for contribution towards your CCT you should:

  1. Write to your Deanery to request written confirmation of the reasons your application for OOP was refused and written confirmation of the amendments to your application that would satisfy their criteria for an Out of Programme request
  2. Upon receipt of the letter from your Deanery, see if you are able to amend your application for time OOP to fulfil the criteria they set. If you are able to make suitable amendments, write to your Deanery to explain the amendments and request approval
  3. If you have any problems, contact BMA on 0300 123 123 3 or use the enquiry form


Wait! I am on a visa - does this affect whether or not I can participate in OOP?

If you are subject to the immigration rules you will need to consider your visa status when planning any time out of programme. For example if you are on a Tier 2 visa , which is your permission to stay in the UK, the visa is attached to your job.

If you leave your current employer to go on an OOP your employer must tell the Home Office you have left your job.

For more detailed information on how your visa status might impact on time out of programme contact the BMA Immigration Advice Service which is available to all BMA members.

Check the Immigration section FAQ's



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