Time Out of Programme (OOP) allows trainees to gain experiences outside of their planned programme of training.  There are several reasons for which trainees may wish to spend time out of programme: 

OOPC – Career Break  

To take a planned career break from the specialty training programme. 

OOPE – Experience 

To gain clinical experience which is not approved by the GMC but which may benefit the doctor (i.e. working in a different health environment/country) or help to support the health needs of other countries. 

OOPT – Training 

To gain clinical experience which is not a part of the trainee's specialty training programme in undertaking GMC prospectively approved clinical training which will count towards CCT.  

To obtain prospective approval for a period of out of programme training, trainees are required to submit a brief description of the following along with the OOP Application Form: 

  • Where the OOPT is based; 
  • The structure of the OOPT; 
  • The educational goals and characteristics of the OOPT; 
  • Confirmation that the OOPT is subject to quality management procedures in line with the GMC Generic Standards for Training.

The Education & Programme Manager will seek GMC approval on behalf of the trainee. Trainees in their penultimate year of training are not normally expected to take time OOP, with the expectation of OOPT in 'Acting up' Locum positions.  Exceptionally, trainees may be given approval for OOPT where this will lead to completion of CCT.  In this situation trainees will not normally be expected to return to the programme for their period of grace. 

OOPP – Pause 

Out of programme pause (OOPP) allows trainees to step out of formal training for up to one year.  To undertake a UK-based, non-training post in the NHS or other patient facing clinical setting. This flexibility initiative can be a vital tool to support trainee wellbeing.  

OOPR – Research 

To undertake a period of research (up to a maximum of 3 years) 


Prior to Applying for an OOP 

Before applying for OOP, trainees must discuss their plans with their Educational Supervisor and/or Training Programme Director.  This discussion will determine the suitability of the out of programme experience and ensures the proposed post will meet the educational needs of the trainee. 

Time out of programme will not normally be agreed until a trainee has been in a training programme for at least a year and will not normally be allowed in the final year of training other than in exceptional circumstances.  

Trainees are normally expected to be on an ARCP outcome 1 to be eligible to apply.  


Applying for an OOP 

Health Education England requires OOP Application Forms and supporting documentation to be submitted at least 6 months in advance of the proposed OOP start date. Please note that applications that do not meet the minimum 6-month timescale may be rejected. 

Complete the OOP application form (plus the JRCPTB Form if you are a member of a medicine training programme) and outline what you will be doing, include the dates. 

  • Attach the supporting information (Job Description or Research Proposal, CV etc.) 
  • For an OOPR, enclose a copy of the enrolment letter for the higher research degree  
  • Sign the form and obtain the necessary signatures of your ES and TPD and submit to your Education & Programme Manager who will seek the Postgraduate Dean’s approval.  

It is the Trainee’s responsibility to ensure all relevant information is submitted at the time of application to the Education & Programme Manager for the Specialty.  


For Medicine Trainees only 

Please note that you are also required to submit form C6 three months before commencing your period of OOP, and form C7 three months before returning to training. 


Submitting your completed application form.  

Please submit your completed application form by email to the Education & Programme Manager for your School:

Foundation team

Specialty team

GP team


On Receipt of the Completed Application Form  

Once the application is approved, and a copy will be returned to you together with a letter of confirmation (containing the GMC approval code if necessary).   You must not start your OOP without receiving a letter of confirmation from the Education & Programme Manager.  

If there are any changes to your OOP, for example start and end date, this must be communicated to the Education & Programme Manager as soon as possible.  Any extension to OOP requires another form to be completed (tick the box to show it is ongoing application).  

Please note trainees must retain GMC registration whilst out on OOP for Revalidation purposes.  


Returning to Programme After a Period of OOP 

Trainees need to liaise with their Training Programme Director regarding a return to the training programme after a period of OOP.  

Trainees are also encouraged to refer to the resources on Supported Return to Training.