How to secure an NHS job as an International Junior Doctor
Are you looking to secure an NHS job as an International Junior Doctor?
If you’re a Junior Doctor who has trained abroad and is keen on finding work in the UK, finding work as an employed non-training junior grade doctor in an NHS hospital is a great way to start your career here. You’ll also get to experience the NHS first hand, with guidance on how things work. But what do you need to do to find, and apply a role?
Our latest blog explores these questions and more.
If you’re planning to come to the UK for work, it is important to plan ahead so that you have the necessary professional registration and immigration procedures in place to get the job you want.
If you want to relocate to the UK and work as a Junior Doctor, you will need to possess an acceptable primary medical qualification so that you can:
This is because, to practise medicine in the UK you need to hold registration with a licence to practise from the GMC, which stands for General Medical Council. This public body maintains the official register of medical practitioners within the United Kingdom.
Having GMC registration is a requirement for all Doctors working in the UK (either in the NHS or the independent sector), regardless of whether they are from here or abroad, giving them the licence to legally practise medicine and undertake activities restricted by law to doctors, such as writing prescriptions and signing death certificates.
Before the GMC gives you licence to practice, the GMC will need to see that you have the knowledge and skills they’re looking for, and that you are competent in using the English language to apply your knowledge. This means that, a postgraduate qualification is necessary.
The following are the postgraduate routes available to you here in the UK:
The Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board or PLAB as its most commonly known, is probably the first, and most popular choice amongst not only Junior Doctors, but International Medical Graduates (IMGs) in general. The PLAB is a two-part exam designed to test that Doctors who qualified abroad have the right knowledge and skills to practise medicine in the UK.
About PLAB Parts 1 and 2
Part 1 consists of an exam comprised of 180 single best answer questions and can be taken all over the world.
Part 2 is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). Candidates move around various clinical scenarios or ‘stations’ demonstrating their ability to examine a patient, take a history and give a diagnosis, communicate effectively to a patient or to carry out a practical procedure. This assessment must be taken at the GMC’s Clinical Assessment Centre in Manchester, UK.
Royal College Qualifications
Another popular route for international Junior Doctors is to attain a UK Postgraduate Qualification through one of the UK’s Royal Colleges.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (the Academy) is the coordinating body for the UK and Ireland’s 24 medical royal colleges and faculties. The main aim is to set the standards (via a curriculum) for the way doctors are educated, trained and monitored throughout their careers so that patients are safely and properly cared for.
The examinations set by their Royal College will depend on what medical specialty you have chosen – and these are generally set to a higher level of specialism and training when compared to the PLAB exams.
For more information on the Twenty four medical Royal Colleges and Faculties, please click here.
Other Postgraduate Qualifications
If you want to be a Junior Doctor here in the UK, you can also look at other postgraduate qualifications that are recognised as the equivalent of PLAB or Royal College Qualifications by the GMC. Take a look at our handy list, below and, if you have one of these, all you need to do is provide this along with evidence of your English language capabilities (demonstrated by passing an English Language Test such as IELTS or OET) to gain your registration with the GMC.
– American Board of Anesthesiology – Certificate of the American Board of Anesthesiology
– American Board of Pediatrics – Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics -General Pediatrics
– The American Board of Radiology – The American Board of Radiology diagnostic radiology examination
– Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetics – Fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA)
– Royal Australian College of Physicians – FRACP Adult medicine or evidence of three years of basic training (PREP) + achievement of RACP written and clinical examinations or FRACP Paediatrics or evidence of three years of basic training (PREP) + achievement of RACP written and clinical examinations
– The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists – Fellowship of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (FRANZCP) awarded since January 2012
– The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists – Fellowship of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (FRANZCP) Clinical Radiology / Fellowship of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (FRANZCP) Radiation Oncology
– Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons – Fellowship in Anaesthetics or Anaesthesiology awarded since July 1999
– The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada – The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada – diagnostic radiology examination
– European Academy of Anaesthesiology or European Society of Anaesthesiology – European Diploma in Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care
– Hong Kong College of Physicians – Membership of the Hong Kong College of Physicians
– College of Anaesthetists of Ireland – Fellowship of the Faculty of the College of Anaesthetists
– Royal College of Physicians in Ireland – MRCP (Medicine of Childhood)
– Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – MRCS /MRSCI/Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland/Fellowship of the Faculty or the College of Anaesthetists of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland
– Ministry of Health – Master of Medicine (MMED) Malaysia with MRCP (UK) awarded since 1 July 2010 (4 years clinical experience required to complete MMED/2 years of training)
– College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan – FCPS Paediatrics Pakistan / Fellowship of Anaesthesiology awarded since 1998
– Joint Committee on Specialist Training Singapore – Master of Medicine (MMED) Singapore, plus MRCP (UK) awarded since 1 July 2010
– College of Anaesthetists of South Africa – Fellowship of the College of Anaesthetists of South Africa / FCA (SA)
– College of Medicine of South Africa – Fellowship of College of Radiologists of SA FC Rad Diag (SA) – Diag Rad awarded after 1 October 2013
– University of Colombo, Sri Lanka – Doctor of Medicine or MD (Anaesthesiology) / Doctor of Medicine or MD (Obstetrics & Gynaecology) / Doctor of Medicine or MD (Paediatrics) / Doctor of Medicine or MD (medicine) awarded after January 2017 / Doctor of Medicine or MD (surgery) awarded after July 2017
– University of West Indies – Doctor of Medicine (Anaesthesia) awarded since September 2003
If you don’t have any of the above, equivalent qualifications, you will need to look at either a Royal College Qualification or PLAB. Not sure which is right for you? Take a look at our blog: PLAB v Royal College: Which Pathway is Best?
You can also explore which route to take on the GMC website.
For more information on evidencing your language skills to the GMC, take a look at our blog.
Alongside ensuring you have the right qualifications, it is a good idea to consider gaining experience of what it is like to work as a Doctor in the NHS. For this, we recommend a clinical attachment.
What is a Clinical Attachment?
A fantastic way to prepare for NHS work, a clinical attachment is basically observing a consultant in a relevant speciality at work. You’ll also gain an overview of the different medical processes and systems in the NHS.
Clinical attachments can last between two and four months and there can be a cost involved. During the attachment, you are not given any responsibility and are not able to make clinical decisions or give clinical advice. After a period of time observing your Consultant, you may be able to take on some clinical duties (under supervision) such as observing consultations, physical examinations and taking patient histories.
A Useful Experience
Although it is not a requirement for GMC registration or NHS work, doing a clinical attachment can be a very useful experience. You’ll also be able to add it as work experience in your GMC application. Time-wise, we recommend doing a clinical attachment shortly before taking part two of the PLAB test (if you are taking it) so you get the most out of your experience.
How to apply for a Clinical Attachment as an IMG
There is no set way to find a clinical attachment. The easiest way is to contact the HR of any hospital you’re interested in pursuing a career at, or, if you know a Consultant in the department you would like to eventually work in, you could ask them for help.
You can also ask for advice from other Doctors you know, or in a group such as our Facebook Group – IMGS: The UK Doctors Network.
Skills and Duties as an NHS Junior Doctor
Your skills and duties as a Junior Doctor may vary from what you would’ve expected to in your home country, so it is important to be aware of what is required.
Key skills include:
– Ability to work long hours, often under pressure
– Good practice skills
– Ability to solve problems
– Effective decision-making skills
– Leadership and management skills
– Communication skills, compassion and a good bedside manner
– Drive to continue learning throughout career
– Analytical ability
– Time management
A healthcare recruitment agency can guide and support you through the required process, as well as help you with obtaining the right language skills test and even flights and accommodation.
At ID Medical, we understand how overwhelming it can be to navigate your way around the entry requirements, which is why our specialist team of Recruitment Consultants is dedicated to dealing with our International Healthcare Professionals and supporting them on their journey to the UK including a free of charge, full overseas package to help with smooth entry to the UK and NHS and step-by-step GMC guidance.
Once registered, we can look at what you need to do to apply for work in the UK, and help you with the different procedures and processes you need to take.
We hope our blog helped answer any questions you had on how to secure an NHS job as an International Junior Doctor and if you want to know more about how we can help you relocate, please get in touch. Our specialist Recruitment Consultants can help you with 1-2-1 support and guidance at every step of the way.