FRCPath vs PLAB - GMC registration for overseas pathologists

  • June 28, 2022
 

GMC Registration is a complex process. For histopathologists who’ve qualified outside the EEA region there are two main pathways to consider – FRCPath and PLAB.

Whilst these are the most common routes to GMC registration, this is not an exahaustive list. There are other options such as Royal College sponsorship and GMC-approved qualifications or licensing exams, and you can read more about these here.

Here we will give a summary of both of the main routes and briefly consider their benefits. 

Professional & Linguistics Assessment Board (PLAB) 

The first and most popular route with most junior doctors is PLAB

PLAB is a two-part exam (one written one practical), and which assesses whether you are at least as capable as a doctor starting the second year of their Foundation Programme Training and can therefore work safely as an SHO in the NHS. 

The GMC have created a video summary of the PLAB exams which you can watch hereor for a more detailed overview, see our IMG Resources library

FRCPath - UK Postgraduate Qualification 

The UK postgraduate qualification for histopathology – FRCPath Histopathology - is the most popular and recommended route for overseas doctors who have completed a training or residency programme, and will be looking for senior pathology positions in the NHS.  

By completing both parts of the FRCPath you are awarded Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists. The Royal College of Pathologists is the professional body that regulates the pathology specialties in the UK. Take a look at our IMG Resources library for complete guides on FRCPath for histopathology to learn more. 

PLAB vs FRCPath 

Both are legitimate routes and will allow you to register with the GMC and work in the UK. To decide which route is best for you, you’ll need to consider the benefits of each and how they align with your priorities and needs in moving to the UK. 

 

Seniority of Positions in the NHS 

Histopathology is a consultant led specialty in the UK, and it would be difficult for an overseas pathologist to obtain a more senior post without FRCPath, or extensive experience from a similar, English speaking healthcare system. PLAB alone will not give overseas doctors access to senior posts in the NHS.  

Time  

PLAB has two stages and can take anywhere between 3-9 months to prepare from start to finish. 

FRCPath has two stages and can take anywhere between 18-30 months to prepare from start to finish.  

Cost  

FRCPath costs just under £1,930 and whilst the Part 2 exam is an in-person exam, the Part 1 exam can be taken online. You can read about the changes to the FRCPath 1 delivery here

PLAB costs £1,119, and both exams are sat in person. PLAB 1 can be taken in the UK or several overseas centres, which you can find here. PLAB 2 must be taken in the UK.  

For both FRCPath Part 2 and PLAB 2, candidates will have to travel to the UK, meaning that the additional cost of visas, accommodation and flights must be factored in.  

It’s important to note that these costs can rise if re-sits of the exams are necessary. 

 

Summary 

PLAB, as an exam which assesses a doctor’s ability to work safely in the UK, does not demonstrate ability in histopathology specifically. For this reason, PLAB tends to be a route for junior doctors who have not already chosen their field of specialisation in medicine. 

Additionally, PLAB can facilitate GMC registration much faster than other routes – so if you feel you can attain an offer of employment in the UK with your overseas experience only – but GMC registration is the one thing standing in your way – PLAB may be a good option for you.  

FRCPath involves two more difficult examinations and takes more time to prepare for. Attaining FRCPath in Histopathology will allow you to jumpstart your career in the UK, you’ll most likely be able to take a consultant role. You would not need PLAB or Core Training in addition to FRCPath.  

Additionally, histopathology in the UK is also a consultant-led specialism, and FRCPath demonstrates competency to practice unsupervised as a consultant.  

#IMG Tips 

  1. Determine your priorities – your goals and timeline for relocating to the UK are important in deciding which route is best for, and this is different for everyone. 
  2. Plan well ahead – depending on the route you choose, you may be embarking on a long journey through these exams, so plan how you will fit them into your life and how best to prepare to maintain a good work-life balance at the same time. 
  3. Find a support network – once you know which exams you will sit, find a support network of others who are also preparing for the exam. A great way to do this is to join IMG Histopathologists, an online pathology community of UK and NHS histopathology aspirants and dedicated histopathology recruiters. You’ll find advice, guidance and news and updates about all things histopathology for IMGs. Join the conversation here

Getting started 

Once you’ve decided which exams are best for you, it’s time to delve deeper into the exams and what they entail. For more useful blogs and articles on PLAB or FRCPath exams, registrations and qualifications to help you find your dream job in the NHS - take a look at our IMG Resources library.  

Or if you have any questions on PLAB or Postgraduate qualifications, feel free to get in touch with our histopathology consultants here.


For regular news and updates, follow IMG Connect on social media using the links below.

            

 

Relevant Jobs

45,124 - 77,519
A large pathology network are recruiting across a variety of cellular pathology roles, with opportunities in general histopathology at specialty doctor level for those with FRCPath and no previous NHS-experience. The trust is one of the highest performing NHS Trusts in the UK, and with an excellent Pathology Network to match. This is a great centre for those seeking to work through their CESR in Histopathology. 

The NHS Trust and Pathology Network

The site is the largest pathology service provider in the region and formed from the amalgamation of major laboratories with two University Hospitals. It was established to provide high quality diagnostic and autopsy services for the North West population with a new hospital site being built to host the new for the Pathology services. The merger provides an opportunity to reconfigure services to provide faster diagnostic services and integrate digital services with AI, new scanning equipment and and a larger, collaborative team of pathologists all under the scope of one organisation and building. This is an exciting time to join!

The Department of Cellular Pathology

The department uses RCPath workload points to assess and manage overall departmental workload, actively encouraging trainees in cellular pathology to engage in independent reporting according to their experience and competence. Senior biomedical scientists are encouraged to be involved in the cut up and RCPath-IBMS Biomedical Scientist Histopathology reporting training scheme. The Department has ISO15189 accreditation by UKAS and offers a full range of laboratory facilities including immunocytochemistry, immunofluorescence, in situ hybridisation, computerised image analysis, flow cytometry and molecular pathology. Molecular pathology is delivered from a multidisciplinary laboratory at RLUH working in conjunction with the North West Genomics laboratory hub.

The department is currently part of a network-wide pilot project in digital pathology. A number, of subspecialties are currently engaged in the process of validation for digital reporting. The Department subscribes to the IARC Blue Books on-line and, also to Immunoquery for decision support in immunocytochemistry. The laboratory reporting is done via a Telepath system, supplemented by the Pathosys structured reporting system for some specialties. All reports are distributed electronically by an ICE system to clinicians within the local trusts and GP practices.

The diagnostic service is based on Consultant teams providing specialist reporting, with multispecialty (generalist) input for stability and to provide cover. The specialist pathologists work closely with clinical and research groups in the following areas: Breast pathology, Cardiothoracic pathology, Dermatopathology, Head and Neck Pathology, Gastrointestinal pathology, Gynaecological pathology, Haematopathology, Musculoskeletal pathology, Ophthalmic pathology, Renal pathology and Urological pathology.

The Cytology department provides a comprehensive service dealing with material from a wide variety of body sites, and all common specimen types. There is an active FNA service based around ultrasound guidance. Each week there are two dedicated ultra-sound guided FNA lists in the Radiology Department and two endoscopic ultra-sound guided FNA lists in the Gastroenterology Department. A rapid on-site diagnostic clinic for head and neck ultrasound guided FNA has commenced recently at the Aintree site. The cytopathology department is committed to expanding the role of biomedical scientists and is supporting 2 senior staff members progress their training and portfolio.

Career Development & Further Opportunities Available

Firstly, there is the opportunity for IMGs new to the NHS to work with some of the most talented and experienced pathologists around the UK - with 25 +/- FRCPath and CCT consultants making up the bulk of a hugely experienced Cellular Pathology team. This will provide doctors with an excellent ground and senior support network around them to learn and develop in the NHS. Those looking to build their CESR portfolio will benefit from the specialty reporting system as it will allow them to rotate around the teams, learning from each specialist team whilst they gather their evidence for CESR.

Beyond this, there are plenty of opportunities for Research and Further Academia, with links major local universities and specialist research and dvelopment centres with approximately 40 tenured PIs who are leading internationally competitive programmes of research in the following disease areas of Pancreatic disease, Ocular cancers, Lung cancer, Haematological oncology, Head and neck cancer, Hepatobiliary cancer and Internationally competitive cross-cutting scientific themes include; Clinical trials, Biomarkers, DNA damage response pathways, Tumour microenvironment and Cell signalling.

Life in the City and North West

A wonderfully cosmopolitan North West city with rich history and tradition and a unique history as one of the most important cultural cities across the whole of the UK! Manchester and Liverpool are some of the focal points of the North West of England and offers a wide range of excellent amenities as well as very affordable housing market for such a large, major UK city. Schools, childcare, after school clubs are aplenty as well as a strong sporting background that offers much opportunity for an excellent family life in the city, whilst also supporting your child's development and passions in their new home. 

Beyond offering the city life you will have access to the wonderful natural attractions in the England and Wales, with Snowdonia not far away by train, as well as the Peak District and Lake District national parks. Connections to the rest of the UK are great, making your travel around the UK easy. There are two major airports within an hours drive from the city.

Eligibility for this vacancy:

To be eligible for this vacancy you will need the following: 

EEA candidates: 
  • Recognised European Medical Degree or Specialist Qualification in Anatomical Pathology
  • IELTS or OET
  • Extensive experience and training in Gastrointestinal pathology
Non-EEA candidates: 
  • FRCPath Histopathology
  • IELTS or OET 
  • Extensive experience and training in Gastrointestinal pathology
UK-based candidates: 
  • FRCPath Histopathology
  • Extensive experience and training in Gastrointestinal pathology
This is a great opportunity for any experienced GI Pathologist looking to specialise further in one of the highest performing and most technologically-advanced centres in the UK. Those interested in pursuing CESR will be considered and supported where possible to do this.
£82,096 - £110,863

An excellent opportunity for an experienced Cellular Pathology Consultant to join one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country, and one of Britain's leading healthcare providers. This is a perfect opportunity as the NHS Trust is entering an exciting new era in their journey to becoming an outstanding organisation with a world-class reputation. The NHS Trust will provide unsurpassed professional development opportunities, enabling investment in a range of new initiatives.

WHAT IS THE NHS TRUST LIKE? 

Theh NHS Trust is one of Britain’s leading healthcare providers and the largest trust in the NHS. It was created on 1 April 2012 by bringing together three trusts. The new trust has a turnover of approximately £1.4billion and approximately 16,000 employees. The NHS Trust's hospitals deliver high quality clinical care to the people of east London and further afield. Around 2.5 million people living in east London look to their services to provide them with the healthcare they need.

The NHS Trust will build an international reputation for excellence in patient care, research and education. And as members of the largest academic health sciences system in the world, they will ensure that their patients are some of the first in the country to benefit from the latest drugs and treatments. Each year the NHS Trust recruits more than 20,000 patients into pioneering clinical trials.

The NHS Trust strive to live by their WeCare values and are committed to promoting inclusion, where every staff member has a sense of belonging. They value their differences and fully advocate, cultivate and support an inclusive working environment where staff treat one another with dignity and respect. They aim to create an equitable working environment where every individual can fulfil their potential.

WHAT IS THE DEPARTMENT & TEAM LIKE? 

The Department is sited at the state-of-the-art Pathology and Pharmacy building at the their main hospital. Satellite laboratories are based at another site and their last hospital covers frozen sections for cancer surgery and to support research activities. Cellular pathology services are provided along specialist lines with lead consultants and supporting consultants in each specialist area. 

The department provides a range of services across East London and Essex. A wide range of general and specialist histological material is seen including cardiothoracic, dermatopathology, gynaecological, breast, medical renal, lymphoreticular, genitourinary, paediatric and perinatal, endocrine, gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, oral and head and neck. The department provides histology reporting for four busy Colposcopy Units. Monthly colposcopy MDMs  occur for each of these Units, with pathology support whether on-site or via video-microscopy.

The post holders will be expected to support the relevant specialty lead(s) and the Clinical Lead in the management of the cellular pathology service. The configuration of all the responsibilities will be reviewed from time to time and the post holders will be expected to work with consultant colleagues to provide a reliable and expeditious service, with scope for service development.

WHAT IS LIFE LIKE IN LONDON? 

London is a buzzing metropolis and one of the urban centers of Europe, with London offering an incredibly diverse collection of mini-towns all in one large city. The hospitals associated with Barts Health are all mainly based in Central and East London. Central London's nightlife, art and cultural scene is fantastic, with endless things to do in a friendly, diverse and welcoming environment. Central London is not largely residential and it would be likely you would seek to locate yourself in East London, the 'cooler' part of London. East London is full of parks, reservoirs, canals, wildlife, sports centres and a strong grass roots sports community for adults and children. East London is the more popular part of London for many whilst also host to much of the more affordable housing. Schools are numerous and range from excellent state schools to high performing private or 'public' schools. You can find the OFSTED reports for schools in the are via their website here: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/

With London being the jobs centre of the UK there will be ample job opportunities for spouses relocating with their partners. If you are unsure about your spouses job opportunities do feel free to speak with your IMG Connect consultant to discuss their case.

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR THIS ROLE?

EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Cellular Pathology
  • Subspecialty interest in breast and gynae pathology

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Cellular Pathology
  • Subspecialty interest in breast and gynae pathology
  • FRCPath Histopathology
  • Aspirations for CESR

UK based applicants

  • Experience of working in Cellular Pathology
  • Within 6-12 months of CCT
  • Subspecialty interest in breast and gynae pathology
£82,096 - £110,863

An excellent opportunity for an experienced GI Pathology Consultant to join one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country, and one of Britain's leading healthcare providers. This is a perfect opportunity as the NHS Trust is entering an exciting new era in their journey to becoming an outstanding organisation with a world-class reputation. The NHS Trust will provide unsurpassed professional development opportunities, enabling investment in a range of new initiatives.

WHAT IS THE NHS TRUST LIKE? 

Theh NHS Trust is one of Britain’s leading healthcare providers and the largest trust in the NHS. It was created on 1 April 2012 by bringing together three trusts. The new trust has a turnover of approximately £1.4billion and approximately 16,000 employees. The NHS Trust's hospitals deliver high quality clinical care to the people of east London and further afield. Around 2.5 million people living in east London look to their services to provide them with the healthcare they need.

The NHS Trust will build an international reputation for excellence in patient care, research and education. And as members of the largest academic health sciences system in the world, they will ensure that their patients are some of the first in the country to benefit from the latest drugs and treatments. Each year the NHS Trust recruits more than 20,000 patients into pioneering clinical trials.

The NHS Trust strive to live by their WeCare values and are committed to promoting inclusion, where every staff member has a sense of belonging. They value their differences and fully advocate, cultivate and support an inclusive working environment where staff treat one another with dignity and respect. They aim to create an equitable working environment where every individual can fulfil their potential.

WHAT IS THE DEPARTMENT & TEAM LIKE? 

The Department is sited at the state-of-the-art Pathology and Pharmacy building at the their main hospital. Satellite laboratories are based at another site and their last hospital covers frozen sections for cancer surgery and to support research activities. Cellular pathology services are provided along specialist lines with lead consultants and supporting consultants in each specialist area. 

The department provides a range of services across East London and Essex. A wide range of general and specialist histological material is seen including cardiothoracic, dermatopathology, gynaecological, breast, medical renal, lymphoreticular, genitourinary, paediatric and perinatal, endocrine, gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, oral and head and neck. The department provides histology reporting for four busy Colposcopy Units. Monthly colposcopy MDMs  occur for each of these Units, with pathology support whether on-site or via video-microscopy.

The post holders will be expected to support the relevant specialty lead(s) and the Clinical Lead in the management of the cellular pathology service. The configuration of all the responsibilities will be reviewed from time to time and the post holders will be expected to work with consultant colleagues to provide a reliable and expeditious service, with scope for service development.

WHAT IS LIFE LIKE IN LONDON? 
London is a buzzing metropolis and one of the urban centers of Europe, with London offering an incredibly diverse collection of mini-towns all in one large city. The hospitals associated with Barts Health are all mainly based in Central and East London. Central London's nightlife, art and cultural scene is fantastic, with endless things to do in a friendly, diverse and welcoming environment. Central London is not largely residential and it would be likely you would seek to locate yourself in East London, the 'cooler' part of London. East London is full of parks, reservoirs, canals, wildlife, sports centres and a strong grass roots sports community for adults and children. East London is the more popular part of London for many whilst also host to much of the more affordable housing. Schools are numerous and range from excellent state schools to high performing private or 'public' schools. You can find the OFSTED reports for schools in the are via their website here: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/

With London being the jobs centre of the UK there will be ample job opportunities for spouses relocating with their partners. If you are unsure about your spouses job opportunities do feel free to speak with your IMG Connect consultant to discuss their case. 

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR THIS ROLE?
EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in GI Pathology
  • European Specialist Qualification in Anatomical Pathology
  • Experience in GI pathology

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in GI Pathology
  • FRCPath Histopathology

UK based applicants

  • Experience of working in GI Pathology
  • Within 6-12 months of CCT
84,559 - 114,003

An outstanding opportunity for experienced Cellular Pathologists to join an NHS Trust that is committed to providing the best quality care to the people of East Sussex by attracting and recruiting passionate people who share this commitment. This Trust is one of the largest employers in the region and their members and staff are dedicated professionals whose work is varied, challenging and makes a real difference to people’s health and well-being. The post is suitable for candidates holding specialisation in the EEA, or for experienced IMGs looking to complete CESR.

WHAT IS THE NHS TRUST LIKE? 

The Trust is one of the largest organisations in the country and they employ over 6,000 dedicated staff with an annual turnover of £380 million who provides service to 525,000 people that live within the area. Their services are mainly provided from two district general hospitals, both have Emergency Departments and provide care 24 hours a day. They offer a comprehensive range of surgical, medical and maternity services supported by a full range of diagnostic and therapy services.

The role of the NHS Trust is to provide the best possible healthcare service to patients, who come first in everything the organisation does. Safe patient care is the Trust's highest priority. They will provide high quality clinical services that achieve and demonstrate optimum clinical outcomes and provide an excellent care experience for patients. The employees will be valued and respected. They will be involved in decisions about the services they provide and offered the training and development that they need to fulfill their roles.

They will operate efficiently and effectively, diagnosing and treating patients in timely fashion and expediting their return to health. They will use their resources efficiently and effectively for the benefit of their patients and their care to ensure our services are clinically, operationally, and financially sustainable.

WHAT IS THE CELLULAR PATHOLOGY DEPARTMENT & TEAM LIKE? 

The Department & Team is a group of people who are hard-working, and dedicated to supporting their colleagues. They are friendly, efficient team on a 10 Programmed Activity per week basis. The department is well-equipped and has a dedicated MDM meeting rooms with video conferencing facilities. The MDMs are divided fairly amongst the consultants with only one pathologist attending each meeting and limited sub-specialisation. The department's laboratory is UKAS accredited, with state of the art equipment, dealing with over 29000 surgical cases and 2000 non-gynae cytology specimens per year.

The department has implemented the Warwick workload management system and this is used to allocate work to consultants. An established double reporting system for cancer cases is in place to enhance quality assurance. The case mix is that normally seen in a district general hospital, with consultants taking an integral role in cancer MDTs. 

The post holder will play a full part in the provision of a diagnostic pathology service to the Trust and will be expected to contribute to the provision of a cancer pathology service for one or more anatomical sites, complementing the interests of the consultants already in post.

WHAT IS LIFE LIKE IN THE REGION?

The region has a natural beauty. Sussex has some fantastic natural features such as the Seven Sisters National Park, and many areas of outstanding natural beauty that include the medieval heathland and forests of the High Weald. It also has beaches and harbours where people can go to during their dayoffs.

Besides its natural beauty, there's a rich array of accommodation options, ranging from the five star Grand Hotel on Eastbourne seafront to quaint B&Bs set amid beautiful Sussex countryside. East Sussex offers a rich array of culture, with art galleries such as the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings and the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne and an array of theatre and entertainment venues such as the De La Warr Pavillion in Bexhill, Congress and Deveonshire Park Theatres in Eastbourne and the White Rock Theatre in Hastings.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU?

The combination of clinical practice and first-class academic connections means that medical professionals have a wide range of opportunities to develop their careers and achieve their aspirations. You will have access to leadership, teaching, educational and research opportunities for Continued Professional Develop (CPD). If you are a new consultant you will receive mentoring and support from medical leads as well as access to a large peer group of enthusiastic and high-caliber Consultants.

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR THIS ROLE?

EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Cellular Pathology
  • European Specialist Qualification in Cellular Pathology

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Cellular Pathology

UK based applicants

  • Experience of working in Cellular Pathology
  • Within 6 - 12 months of completing CCT
84,559 - 114,003

An excellent opportunity for an experienced Consultant in Pathology to join a Health Board in North Wales that promotes equality and diversity. If you love a challenge, have a passion to help others or simple fancy a fresh start, then this Health Board has all the ingredients. The post if suitable for overseas consultants, including candidates who are pursuing CESR. Specialists in Pathology holding a specialist certification would be suitable for this post, based on experience entering at either Specialty Doctor or Consultant grade. 

Overseas applications from experienced Specialty Doctors and Consultants are welcomed. 

WHAT IS HEALTH BOARD LIKE? 

The Health Board is largest health organisation in Wales, that are developing an integrated health service which provides excellent care delivered in partnership with the public and other statutory and third sector organisations.

The Health Board have a budget of £1.3 billion and a workforce of over 17,000 staff. Providing primary, community, mental health and acute hospital services for the population of around 700,000 across of North Wales. They continuously develop their workforce so that it has the right skills and operates in a research-rich learning culture.

Besides their three main hospital sites, they are also responsible for community hospitals, health centres, clinics, mental health units, community teams, GP practices and other NHS services provided by dentists, opticians and pharmacists. They plan to improve the health of the population, with particular focus upon the most vulnerable in our society.

WHAT IS THE DEPARTMENT & TEAM LIKE? 

The Pathology Department are a team of Medical Laboratory Secretaries, Medical Laboratory Assistants, registered Biomedical Scientists and experienced Consultant Pathologists that work together to deliver the service across North Wales. The Pathology Department in this hospital has the diagnostic laboratory. The department receives a range of different samples, from small biopsies to bigger organ resections, with the intention of examining tissues and cells under a microscope, in order to help clinicians managing a patient’s care. 


WHAT IS LIFE LIKE IN NORTH WALES? 

North Wales has a vast national park, purpose built mountain biking trails, a breath taking coastal path, soaring zip wire, food festivals and world class sport and adventure around every corner. The North Wales is equipped with sport and leisure centres that provide opportunities for a wide variety of sporting, fitness and recreational activities. Not only does it have lots of activities for you, it also has a wide selection of private housing is available, both traditional and modern in towns, villages and rural settings.

For doctors with family, the educational standards are consistently high in both the primary and secondary sectors. There are several well established independent schools within North Wales and the surrounding area that cater for both day pupils and boarders. The regional University with its excellent scholastic reputation has a thriving student community.

You can say goodbye to heavy inner city commuter traffic, and enjoy a breath-taking commute across North Wales.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU AT THIS HEALTH BOARD?

With an extremely active education/teaching programme supported by the consultant team, there is opportunity to work towards and complete CESR, exams, get involved in active research and many aspects of CPD. 

Participation in research and educational activities will be encouraged.

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR THIS ROLE?

EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Pathology
  • Board Certified Specialist in Pathology

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Pathology

UK based applicants

  • Experience of working in Pathology
  • Within 6 - 12 months of completing CCT

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