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Written by Wesleyan

30 tips for junior doctors starting their career

10 min read
Young male doctor smiling

Every August, hundreds of junior doctors start work around the country. For those of you embarking on your new career, we’ve put together 30 tips that will help you and your finances.

1. So you’re finally a doctor and at last you have an income. Can you afford to start saving?

It's never too soon to start saving, but make sure you take expert advice to work out what you can afford and what savings products would work best for your circumstances. You might want to consider saving and investing with Wesleyan.

2. Your first payday is coming. It’s time to work out how much you’ll get.

Knowing how much to expect in your monthly pay packet - the gross as well as deductions - will help you plan your outgoings and what you can afford to save.

3. Time to start paying your GMC fees.

All doctors must pay a fee to register with the General Medical Council and an annual retention fee to remain on the register. The combined fees can run in to hundreds of pounds. Learn more about the GMC here.

4. You’ll need to start paying tax, so make sure you’re on the right tax banding.

To make sure you’re paying the right amount of Income Tax, use the HM Revenue and Customs' online tax checker.

5. Don't delay... make a plan to repay your student loans today.

Find out when and how to repay student finance companies for loans and interest, and whether there are ways to pay off loans early, avoiding interest charges. Learn more about student loans here.

6. Find out more about the NHS Pension Scheme and how you can benefit from it.

The NHS pension offers great benefits to hard-working doctors, but you need to make sure you know all about the benefits and risks. It’s also a good idea to get expert advice before signing up. You can find out more about the scheme here.

7. Boost your income by claiming tax relief on some expenses.

Did you know that you can reclaim tax on the fees you pay to some approved professional organisations? This includes the General Medical Council and the British Medical Association.

8. Are you covered? Find out about your indemnity obligations and the cost.

Make sure you have adequate insurance or indemnity cover so that your patients will not be disadvantaged if they make a claim about the clinical care you have provided. Learn more about insurance indemnity for doctors.

9. Planning to specialise? It pays to make a long-term plan.

The decision to specialise, or study for a full-time MSc, can be tricky. Course fees can be expensive, and your career progression must often be planned years in advance.

10. Achieve your ambitions. Make a five-year career development plan.

What kind of medicine would you like to practice? What are your interests? Are there any gaps in your knowledge that you want to address? Structuring your development will help you to achieve your goals.

11. Been there, done that. Talk to your predecessors to get the benefit of their experience.

Find out what your job is like from those who’ve already done it. Being aware of the potential challenges and opportunities will help you prepare for what your career has to offer.

Our insight is strengthened by our use of Advisory Boards made up of professionals from within our core markets. They use knowledge and experience of their profession to help us shape our products and strategy. 

12. BMA membership brings plenty of benefits. Can you claim tax relief on your fees?

Membership of the BMA gives you access to careers advice, practical employment support and more. Be aware of the cost and whether you can claim tax relief on the fees you pay. You can learn more about the BMA here.

13. New doctor? It’s never too soon to start saving for a pension.

The earlier you start saving for retirement, the less you will have to put away each month to achieve the pension pot you want. Make sure you take expert advice on how best to achieve the retirement you deserve.

14. Planning a holiday already? Book your time off well in advance.

Find out how much annual leave is permitted in your new job and be aware that most Junior Doctors will have to request time off long in advance. When you do get away, don’t forget your travel insurance.

15. Planning to further your education? Find out if you’re entitled to study leave.

All career grade doctors should get a maximum 30 days study and professional leave with paid leave and expenses every three years. Some Trusts or Boards interpret this as ten days a year. Check what your local arrangements are.

16. Considering locum work? Look into the benefits of setting up a limited company to pay yourself.

There are many benefits to becoming a locum doctor that could make it a good option for you. Working through a limited company is considered to be the most tax efficient way of working as a locum, but make sure you get good advice.

17. Consider all your options for getting your finances in order.

Because of the longer courses and greater expenses, medical students are likely to graduate from university with higher debts than non-medical graduates. It's not the debt that's necessarily the problem, however, but how you manage it.

If you’d like to get a review of your finances, you can speak to a Specialist Financial Adviser from Wesleyan Financial Services.

18. Plan your career progression, including the exams you’ll have to study for. Make sure you factor in the cost too.

Junior doctors face several expenses early on in their careers. If you plan to specialise you will need full Royal College membership, so factor in the cost of exams, which are essential for career progression.

19. Add up all your regular expenses to work out how much disposable income you will have at the end of the month. 

Sometimes just writing down what you spend can help you identify where you can make savings. This could include rent, phone bills, insurance, travel cards, gym membership, house bills and credit cards.

20. Research how much tax, pension contributions and National Insurance you must pay to plan your budget.

Working out the difference between your income and what you spend will allow you to create a realistic weekly budget.

21. Know when you get paid so you can plan your spending and saving.

That way you won't run out of money unexpectedly and it will you help create a saving plan for repaying your debts.

22. What expenses will you incur as a Junior Doctor? Don’t forget costs such as GMC fees, BMA membership and indemnity cover. It all adds up.

The five years spent at medical school prepare you for your future in medicine, but they don't prepare you for managing your money in your first few years as a Foundation Doctor. During this time, you’ll be paying for compulsory costs such as the British Medical Association, Royal College of Surgeons and GMC.

23. Despite its recent reforms, the NHS Pension Scheme remains one of the best retirement packages out there.

Anyone who starts working for the NHS automatically becomes a member of the NHS Pension Scheme. Although you can opt-out at any time, the scheme provides a number of worthwhile benefits that are expensive to replace. 

24. Be clear on what you need to do to successfully complete your first year of training. Make a study plan and stick to it.

Foundation year one will include a surgical placement and a medical placement, giving you a broad knowledge of the job. To progress, you must submit a learning portfolio and complete work-based assessments.

25. If you’re graduating with debt, look into the options for paying it off with a loan or finding cheaper credit.

Don't ignore debt - manage it. We all love to spend money but sometimes cutting back on little luxuries can make a difference.

26. Planning to get your finances in order and start repaying debts? Prioritise the most expensive.

It's easy to get carried away when you get your first pay slip, especially if you still have the luxury of a low interest rate overdraft. However, this will not last forever. The best thing you can do is create a budget so you can start repaying your overdraft and any credit cards.

27. A 24-year-old Junior Doctor who retires at 65 will receive less than 500 payslips during their career. Make every one count.

Saving should not affect your ability to do the things you enjoy, but it will help you pay for expensive items like a holiday or a car. You should be comfortable with how much you can save, and this will depend on whether you’re saving for long-term or short-term goals.

28. Accidents happen. The NHS will only pay a maximum of six months full pay and six months half pay if you can’t work. Income protection is a safety net.

Wesleyan can help you make sure that your financial health doesn't suffer if you’re ill or have an accident. We offer a free Personal Income Protection Plan cover for your final year of study. And when you become a newly qualified doctor, you can benefit from discounted premiums for up to five years. 

29. Are you ready to think about getting on the property ladder?

Buying your first home is one of life’s biggest expenses. See how you can step onto the property ladder with our advice on saving for a house.

30. Life as a Junior Doctor can be hectic, leaving little time for planning your finances. A Specialist Financial Adviser can help you with your plans.

A Specialist Financial Adviser can review your situation and give advice to help control your debts and get your finances on track.

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Give your finances a health check

For a full financial review, advice on savings and guidance on the NHS Pension Scheme, why not book an appointment with a Specialist Financial Adviser from Wesleyan Financial Services?

Income protection for new doctors

Let Wesleyan support the start of your medical career, with specialist income protection for new doctors. Wesleyan will even pay your premiums for you in your final year of studies.