A Step By Step Guide
Route to working as a doctor in the UK for International graduates
There are many reasons people leave the comfort of their home to travel to lands unknown. Some like to explore, for others it’s a search for green pastures and more still for others it’s family commitment. Whatever the reason for which you have decided to take your medical practice to the UK, the routes are similar for all, whether you have studied in Nigeria, Pakistan, India or Sri-Lanka.
The apprehension of an uncertain future usually puts people off from taking the first steps, but being armed with good information can make all the difference. As things change frequently, relying on friends who have gone before, although very useful, might not always be the the most uptodate source of guidance.
This website aims to bridge the information gap for international medical graduates seeking employment in the UK. Information is updated frequently to reflect the most recent changes. Additional guidance is also given on the routes to specialty recruitment.
Step by step guide getting into the United Kingdom’s general medical register
- Now that you want to start your journey of a thousand miles, you must first ensure that your medical qualification is acceptable by the General Medical Council. If your medical education was in the United Kingdom, there is nothing to check, but if you have been educated outside of the United Kingdom verifying your medical degree may be worthwhile before you proceed. There are a number of ways to do this; firstly, you should check your university on the world directory of medical schools. Having found your university, you need to check the qualifications the GMC does not currently accept. You can do this by clicking on this link or going to the gmc website.
- Having made sure that you are eligible to practice in the UK, your next step is to confirm your english language proficiency. The most usual route is to take the academic IELTS test. The current criteria requires that you get a score of at least 7.0 in each testing area (speaking, listening, reading and writing), and an overall score of 7.5. Because these criteria might change, you need to get details from the GMC website. There are IELTS centres in different countries. In Nigeria, the test is conducted by the British council with centres around the country. Other routes of confirming english language eligibility can also be found on the GMC website. The IELTS test is the first in the series exams you’d take. Keep in mind that your IELTS certificate is valid of 2 years, so you’ll need to pass your PLAB 1 exams within this validity period.
- Now that you have confirmed your English language proficiency, you need to take the PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board) tests. There are two parts to this test- PLAB 1 and PLAB 2. PLAB 1 test is in the multiple choice question (MCQ) format and can be taken in Nigeria and other countries whereas PLAB 2 is in OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) format and is done in the UK. Adequate and relevant preparation is the key to success in these exams. Many people pass them at the first attempt. The new GMC guideline stipulates you that from september 2017 you can only attempt each exam a maximum of four times. Details about each exam and sample questions can be found through this link and on the GMC website.
- The next step after passing your exams is to complete your registration with the GMC. You have done all the hard work and this is just the icing on the cake. You will usually start the registration process on the GMC website, you’ll pay the fees and then you’ll book an appointment at GMC for a check of your documents. At the registration stage, you’ll also need to ensure you are registered with your home medical licencing authority and you will also request a letter of good standing which will usually be sent from your home medical council to the GMC directly. There is usually also the need to independently verify your credentials at this stage and this is also done via the EPIC website.
- Once you have completed your registration, the next step is to take a year off and rest from all your labour. That would have been possible if you were already a billionaire and you were just doing this for the love of it. For all the normal folks, it’s time to secure a job. There are different ways to go about this. You could either apply for resident medical officer posts, locum posts, Trust grade posts or you can apply for a training post. Your decision will depend on a few factors like your immigration status, the state of your finances or the availability of jobs. But whichever one you choose, it is always good to give a thought to your career progression.
Generally speaking, to progress in this journey, it is always good to take one step at one time, get up-to-date and useful information and follow your heart. There will always be wonderful people along the way to help you.