Dr Colin Baines, Speciality Doctor
Length of time working as an SAS doctor

Five years

Length of time as a trainee prior to becoming an SAS doctor

Four years

Experience/qualifications required for current post

Four years post-undergraduate qualification. No specific exams required. Clinical experience in general medicine and an interest in vascular medicine.

Reason(s) for pursuing SAS career over training

In part this was forced upon me by the introduction of the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS). I was however not prepared to travel widely to pursue a career in medicine. This job gives me an opportunity to choose my location and establish my life outside of medicine in a location that I have positively chosen to live in. The permanent contract provides excellent security for me and my family.

A day in the life of an SAS Doctor in this specialty

Each day varies but my contracted hours are set as 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. I have a set job plan setting out specific clinical activities for the week. On average I have a scheduled commitment to four clinics a week. Inpatient work comprises of elective and unsheduled inpatient care. I have previously included time working in the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) as part of my job plan. I have management roles included in my work and have been an educational and clinical supervisor. I have also had active involvement in service development and design, both in my own unit and at the wider directorate level.

How does this differ to Trainees in this specialty

My job is much more structured and less dependent on rota changes and on-call requirements. I can set my job plan in a direction to focus on my specific areas of interest. My outpatient exposure is much greater and I have much more autonomy in my clinical practice. Management activities and additional roles and responsibilities are more readily available as I am in a permanent post.

Pros and Cons of working as an SAS Doctor in this specialty

The major advantages of working as an SAS doctor in this specialty is the work/life balance. This is true of SAS posts in any specialty. I am able to plan my family life around the secure employment and stability in one region. The job security and permanent nature of my post allows me to have a role within the Trust’s structure. Job planning and yearly appraisal gives me control over the direction of my career. Vascular medicine is a non-Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) specialty so the options of working in this specialty would not be open to me in a traditional training programme.

The negatives of working as an SAS doctor remain the rather outdated negative views on career grade posts held by many of the more senior members of the medical fraternity. Working against these institutionalised views can be tiresome at times.

There is not, as yet, a structured support network for SAS doctors. Career planning is therefore often a very individual process requiring a lot of self-motivation. This is of course both a negative and positive aspect of this post. In comparison, training posts have educational supervisors, training programme directors (TPD), deaneries etc. in place to support them. Finding pastoral support and career advice is more difficult as an SAS doctor, but on the plus side, you can choose who this comes from. Again, both a positive and negative aspect of SAS careers.

For more information

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPEd) SAS subcommittee

British Medical Association (BMA)

Joint Royal College of Physicians Training Board (JRCPTB) - General Internal Medicine (GIM) curriculum

International Union of Angiology (vascular medicine)