Foundation Job Ranking: A Complete Guide
Foundation 22nd February 2024

Foundation Job Ranking: A Complete Guide

Ranking your foundation jobs can be a stressful and time consuming process. The choices that you make will determine where you spend the next two years and possibly even what area you specialise in. Add to that the huge task of actually ranking your choices in Oriel, and the whole experience can feel overwhelming, and frankly not what you need in your final year of medical school. This simple guide will breakdown everything you need to know about foundation job ranking and show you how to make the whole process easier and quicker with our FREE foundation job ranker.

Please note: The UK Foundation Programme announced major changes to the Foundation Programme Allocation Process for 2024 onwards. This included the introduction of the new Preference Informed Allocation (PIA) model – which uses computer-generated ranking for applicants – and the removal of the Situational Judgement Test (SJT). This guide provides up-to-date information for the 2024 application process, including the new PIA system.

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What is foundation year 1 (FY1)?

After completing your medical degree, you’ll undertake a two-year Foundation Training programme – foundation year 1 (FY1) and foundation year 2 (FY2) – your first paid role as a doctor.

The foundation programme usually involves six different rotations – three in FY1 and three in FY2 – providing experience in different medical and surgical specialties. Following successful completion of FY1, you can apply for full registration with the GMC.

How do I choose a foundation school?

Foundation schools are made up of a group of hospitals within a region. You can find a full list of the current foundation schools on the UK Foundation Programme website here.

When completing your UK Foundation Programme application, you’ll first need to rank all of the foundation school geographical areas in order of preference. You’ll then be allocated a foundation school (see the section below for how this is done) from which to rank foundation jobs.

To help you do this, you may want to consider the following:

  • The location – this may be the main / only deciding factor for you, particularly if you have commitments limiting your choice of locations or are quite set on the general location you’d like to be.
  • The type of Hospital Trust – for example, will you experience inner-city or rural medicine?
  • Competition – some areas are more popular than others, which may affect your decision.
  • The number of posts – again, this may affect your decision as it can make some areas more competitive than others.

Which foundation school will I be allocated?

Once you have submitted your ranked preferences, you’ll be allocated a foundation school. Previously, this was based on your Foundation Programme Application System (FPAS) points – a combination of your Educational Performance Measure (EPM) and Situational Judgement Test (SJT) Score – which determined your ranking.

With the new Preference Informed Allocation (PIA) process for 2024 entry, you will be given a computer-generated ranking, which is not informed by performance at medical school (as the EPM and SJT were). The Oriel system will then use an algorithm to work through all applicants in this computer-generated rank order. This will happen in two passes through the system:

  1. As the algorithm works through in computer-generated rank order, it allocates as many applicants as possible to their first choice foundation school.
  2. Once this is done, any unplaced applicant will be worked through in rank order again, and assigned their highest preferenced foundation school with places available.

How do I rank my foundation jobs?

Once you’ve been allocated your foundation school, you’ll then need to rank the foundation jobs in order of preference. To help you do this, you may want to consider the following:

  • The location – your foundation school can cover a large area and multiple clinical settings. How important is the location to you? Are there areas you’d prefer or wish to avoid?
  • The specialties – each job will usually provide details of 6 specialties that you’ll undertake. Are there specialties that are of particular interest to you? Or are there specialties which you’d prefer to avoid?
  • The experience offered – the same specialty can offer a completely different experience from one setting to another. This is where GMC satisfaction scores can be a big help! Find out more in the section below.
  • Your priorities – which of the above is most important: location, specialties or satisfaction scores?

Identifying your preferences and priorities first can help you when it comes to ranking the foundation jobs. However, you still then have the enormous task of going through all the jobs within your foundation school, identifying those that match your location and specialty preferences, and ranking them based on this.

This is where the Medibuddy FREE foundation job ranker can help!

How does the foundation job ranker work?

The Medibuddy FREE foundation job ranker automatically ranks all of the jobs within your given foundation school based on your preferences. You simply select the locations and specialties that you want / don’t want, and our foundation job ranker does all the hard work for you.

If you opt for our premium ranker (for a small fee), you’ll also be provided with the GMC satisfaction ratings and the job competitiveness scores, so you can easily compare how highly rated and competitive each job is. You can find more information about the GMC satisfaction ratings and the competitiveness scores in their respective sections below. This option also allows you to export your ranked jobs as an excel document to make the process of ranking in Oriel even easier.

The Medibuddy foundation job ranker makes the process quick and easy. In four simple steps you’ll have all of the jobs within your foundation school ordered to suit your preferences:

  1. Simply drag each specialty into ‘like’, ‘indifferent’ or ‘dislike’
  2. Do the same with the locations – drag into ‘like’, ‘indifferent’ or ‘dislike’
  3. Choose what’s more important to you: specialty, location or no preference
  4. View your results – you can also make any small tweaks you’d like at this stage by manually reordering your list to suit you


The foundation job ranker works by applying a score to each location and specialty based on your choices. Our system will then automatically cross-check each job with your selections and rank them based on an overall score. You can learn more about how the foundation job ranker works in our FAQs.

Where does the list of foundation jobs come from?

The list of foundation jobs comes directly from the Oriel website. We use a web crawler to download the information; this ensures that our job list is identical to Oriel and, in turn, makes it easier for you to take your ranked choices in our system and apply them straight into Oriel.

How do you know how competitive each rotation was in 2023?

We understand that how competitive a job is will be an important factor in many people’s decision making, and therefore, we provide a competitiveness score based on our independent data.

Each year our competitiveness score is calculated using data from the previous year’s ranking (making it as up-to-date as possible). We draw upon users’ selections to calculate a score for each job, consider how it compares to others within the same region, and weight each accordingly.

What are the GMC satisfaction ratings and where do you get them from?

Each year the GMC surveys all doctors in the country and asks them to rate their jobs, based on a number of factors, including teaching and workload. From this they generate GMC satisfaction ratings for each job. This information is available on the GMC website.


Do I need to rank all foundation jobs?

It is recommended that you rank all foundation jobs within your allocated foundation school. Although the new process aims to allocate as many applicants as possible their first choice job, if yours isn’t available, you’ll go back through the algorithm and be given your highest available preference, once all available first choices have been assigned.

So, yes in an ideal world you will be allocated your first choice job, but really there is no guarantee that you’ll receive your first or even your tenth choice. This is why carefully ranking all of the jobs is beneficial. However, it can be difficult – not to mention time consuming – to carefully consider all the available jobs. With the Medibuddy foundation job ranker it doesn’t have to be!

How do I rank programme preferences in Oriel?

Once the preferencing window is open, you can rank all available jobs in Oriel by visiting the ‘applications’ tab and opening your application form. You can also update them using the ‘preferences’ tab on Oriel. You will need to drag and drop each individual programme into the ‘preference’ column in order of preference.

For more information about our foundation job ranker and how it can save you time and effort, whilst ensuring you effectively rank your preferred jobs, visit our Foundation Ranker FAQs. To learn more about the FP application process, including the UKFPO timeline and key dates, visit our UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO): Overview 2024.

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