Who is eligible?
Eligibility for flexible training varies between regions, and information can be found on your deanery website. The most common reason for training flexibly is spending part of the week at home with young children, but other reasons include research commitments or a complementary career, or health concerns.
Types of flexible training
You can either job-share, work less than full time with the remaining time being unfilled, or work in a supernumerary capacity. Job-sharing is generally preferred by deaneries due to funding implications.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Sharing a job usually involves working 2-4 days per week with your partner covering the other days, often with some overlap. Usually both partners work 3 days, with one day of overlap and handover, but it varies depending on the specific limitations for each partner eg childcare, research commitments, as well as the job involved.
Job-sharing can be a great experience: an opportunity work closely and exchange ideas with another trainee, and to hone your communication skills. It allows you the freedom of working part-time with the peace of mind that when you are away someone else is able to take things forward. As the way we practice medicine is set to change the skills acquired are likely to be very valuable. Being in a job-share ensure that you have set commitments and a defined role while at work.
Job sharing can be difficult in that you cannot maintain overall control of the job, and do have to rely on your partner, something which does not come easily when you have trained in the current model. In addition it’s important to have very clear communication between you, which can take time to establish. Problems can arise when the distribution in a job of clinics or rounds is uneven, and you need to be creative in finding solutions to this. Some consultants, who are used to having a single port of call for all their queries may feel less confident relying on two part time trainees.
Being supernumerary gives greater flexibility, allowing independence in your selection of jobs and days which you work. However, it can be harder to be accepted as part of a team, and more difficult to define a role and to ensure you have enough exposure to valuable training opportunities, as opposed to service provision.
Finding a jobshare partner
Currently there are few flexible trainees in neurology so you are unlikely to have a choice of partner. Ideally partners should be at a similar stage of training with equivalent educational goals, but partnerships between senior and junior colleagues can also be very rewarding.