Specialist Medicine - a Doctor's Route to the UK

  • January 27, 2023
 

Which routes can overseas specialist medicine doctors take to GMC registration & securing jobs in the NHS? 

All doctors in specialist medicine areas such as respiratory, gastroenterology, dermatology, endocrinology, neurology, cardiology, geriatrics, rheumatology and stroke medicine will need to satisfy certain criteria to fully register with the General Medical Council (GMC). What these criteria are will depend on whether you are applying from inside or outside of Europe. 

This article will prove relevant to all the medical specialties that fall within the various specialisms within medicine whilst also including haematology (MRCP + FRCPath is the complete set of qualifications) and other off-shoots such as infectious disease.

The criteria you must meet depends on where you currently live and practice, either inside the EEA (& associated countries) or outside the EEA. This article is designed to give you a snapshot of the steps you need to take to start your journey to the UK, no matter where in the world you live. 

Inside the EEA – click here

Outside the EEA – click here


“Doctors from countries around the world play a vital and significant role in our NHS and in the delivery of safe patient care. This is not only welcome but is part of the continuous exchange of knowledge in healthcare and should be strongly encouraged. They make an invaluable contribution to the NHS.” 

Joint statement from the Royal College of Physicians


Inside the EEA

Firstly, it is important to note that where we refer to EEA in this article this refers to all countries inside the EU, including Lichtenstein, Iceland & Norway. 

If you qualified as a doctor inside the EEA or Switzerland, then the good news is that you don’t need to demonstrate your medical knowledge and skills to work as a doctor in the UK – you have already done this, and thanks to the EU your qualification is deemed equivalent. In addition, you will not need to apply for a visa from the UK Home Office. 


As an EEA doctor, the main hurdle that you will face is demonstrating that your English skills are of a high enough standard to practice safely as a doctor in the UK & NHS. 


English Language Testing

Any international doctor, regardless of specialty, experience or country of origin, must demonstrate they have sufficient competence of the English language.

You can do this by passing either of the following:

  • IELTS – International English Language Testing System
  • OET – Occupational English Test

Take a look at our helpful articles below for detailed information on both tests: 

IELTS – a guide for overseas doctors

OET – a guide for overseas doctors

GMC Registration

Having passed your English Language Test, you can now apply for full registration with a licence to practice with the GMC. For full GMC registration you must provide evidence of:

  • Evidence of English language capabilities (IELTS or OET)

AND

  • Evidence of sufficient skill and knowledge (your equivalent qualifications)

Understand the registration process in full & by reading our article: IMG Library - GMC Registration for overseas doctors

Job search

We recommend starting the job search as early as possible. Demand for European doctors in the NHS is ever-increasing - the NHS welcomes you with open arms! At IMG Connect we specialise in securing jobs for European doctors in the UK and can offer you a wider range of jobs than are readily available online. 

Our network extends to psychiatry services and HR departments across the UK, so no matter what your grade or specialty we can ensure you will be interviewing for roles well in advance of any relocation plans. 

In addition, your dedicated consultant, with a specialty knowledge of General Medicine, will negotiate on your behalf ensuring you get the most competitive salary. 

Our aim is to have a job offer on the table before your GMC registration is complete, giving you the peace of mind of having an agreed contract in place - leaving you to carefully plan your relocation to the UK.

Take a look at our most recent jobs: Job Search

Relocation

Obviously, any doctor’s journey isn’t all exams, registrations and language tests… there’s also the small matter of relocation and settling into life in the UK.

Once you have secured your role in the UK, we focus on supporting you and your family with all your relocation plans. This can include, but is not exclusive to, securing accommodation, travel planning, setting up bank accounts & national insurance numbers – every step of the way we are here to help.

Have a read through our IMG Library and take in all the beautifully organised information on relocation and UK life to immeasurably help your first days, weeks and months in the UK.

IMG Library – Relocation & UK Life


Outside of the EEA

If you qualified as a doctor outside the EEA, then you will have to demonstrate that both your medical knowledge & skills and English Language capabilities meet the level required to practice safely in the UK. In addition, you will need to apply for a visa from the UK Home Office. 

Here we summarise the requirements for General Medicine doctors, looking at the following:

  • English Language Testing
  • Evidence of Knowledge & Skills - PLAB, MRCP or equivalents
  • Tier 2 Visas 
  • Full GMC Registration

English Language Testing

Any international doctor, regardless of specialty, experience or country of origin, must demonstrate they have sufficient competence of the English language. You can do this by passing either of the following:

  • IELTS – International English Language Testing System
  • OET – Occupational English Test

Take a look at our helpful articles below for detailed information on both tests: 

IELTS – a guide for overseas doctors

OET – a guide for overseas doctors

Evidence of Knowledge & Skills in Medicine

Overseas doctors must prove to the GMC they have sufficient knowledge & skills to practice safely in the UK. This can be done through three main routes:

  1. PLAB
  2. Royal College qualification of MRCP
  3. GMC - recognised or equivalent qualifications

Route 1 - PLAB:

The PLAB exam is a two-part exam that assesses a doctor’s ability to work safely as an SHO in the NHS, as such it does not demonstrate ability in Medicine specifically. 

For this reason, PLAB tends to be a route for junior doctors who have not already chosen their field of specialisation in medicine. 

That said, for some senior doctors PLAB can be an attractive option, offering a quicker route to the UK, whilst still securing competitive salaries. If taking this option, international doctors can then take up training or a more senior post once they have established themselves in the NHS. 

Take a look through our comprehensive guides on PLAB:

PLAB – a guide for overseas doctors

PLAB 1 – a closer look

PLAB 2 – a closer look

Route 2 - Royal College Qualification:

Attaining a Royal College qualification is a preferred path for doctors who have already chosen their field of specialism i.e. medicine. For senior medicine doctors taking this route, they will gain access to more senior, well-paid jobs in the specialism of their choice. 

The Royal College of Physicians is the Professional Body that regulates the specialism of medicine in the UK, and Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) is the full qualification attainable by examination.

For overseas doctors, attaining MRCP will satisfy the knowledge & skill criteria for GMC registration and facilitate application for more senior roles in UK medicine.

Take a look at our complete guide on Membership of the Royal College of Physicians to understand more: MRCP – a guide for overseas doctors

GMC - recognised or equivalent qualifications:

Some overseas qualifications are recognised by the GMC and accepted for registration purposes. This means to say these qualifications are considered as meeting the same standards as the Royal College qualifications.

There are qualifications from several countries around the world that are currently accepted by the GMC. 

Find out if your qualification is accepted by the GMC: Overseas accepted postgraduate qualifications

Tier 2 Visa

If you are a doctor applying from outside the EEA region you will almost certainly need to apply for a visa to work in the UK. 

Applying as a doctor or nurse has never been easier and there is currently no-restriction on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) applications that a hospital can make. Furthermore, the list of specialties on the shortage occupation list is due for imminent review and expansion beyond its current list of specialties, potentially widening the scope for easier immigration processes across all specialties in healthcare.

Understand Tier 2 visas and Certificates of Sponsorship in depth by taking a look at our article: Tier 2 Visa application process & documents needed

Wondering whether you can relocate with your family? Take a look at our blog on the Tier 2 dependant visa: Tier 2 Dependant visa - can i bring my family with me to the UK?

GMC Registration

With everything in place, you can apply for full registration with a licence to practice with the GMC. Remember, for full GMC registration you must provide evidence of:

  • Evidence of English language capabilities

AND

  • Evidence of sufficient skill and knowledge (PLAB, MRCP or equivalent)

Understand the registration process in full & by reading our article: GMC Registration for overseas doctors

Job search

We recommend starting the job search as early as possible. Demand for Non-EEA doctors in the NHS is increasing - the NHS welcomes you with open arms! 

At IMG Connect we specialise in securing jobs for overseas doctors in the UK and can offer you a wider range of jobs than is readily available online. 

Our network extends to general medicine services and HR departments across the UK, so no matter what your grade or specialty we can ensure you will be interviewing for roles well in advance of any relocation plans. 

In addition, your 1-1 consultant, with a specialty knowledge of medicine, will negotiate on your behalf, ensuring you get the most competitive salary. 

Giving you the peace of mind of agreeing your new contract, perhaps even before your GMC registration is complete. Take a look at our most recent jobs: Job Search

Relocation

Obviously, any doctor’s journey isn’t all exams, registrations and language tests… there’s also the small matter of relocation and settling into life in the UK.

Once you have secured your role in the UK, we will focus on supporting you and your family with all of your relocation plans. This can include, but is not exclusive to, securing accommodation, travel planning, setting up bank accounts & national insurance numbers – every step of the way we are here to help. 

Have a read through our IMG Library and take in all the beautifully organised information on relocation and UK life to immeasurably help your first days, weeks and months in the UK. Take a look here: IMG Library – Relocation & UK Life


Follow us on social media for news and updates on GMC registration, the Royal College and NHS through the links below:

            

 

Relevant Jobs

52,530 - 82,400

Seeking a dynamic and motivated Dermatologist to join a Dermatology service in an NHS Foundation Trust rated \"good\" overall by the CQC. The NHS Trust provides a supportive environment for Specialty Doctors in Dermatology, including CESR support for IMGs seeking to establish their careers in the UK. Ideal for EEA-specialized candidates or experienced overseas dermatologists aiming to complete CESR.

What is the NHS Foundation Trust like?

The NHS Foundation Trust operates as a district general hospital. It oversees the management of two hospitals. This NHS Foundation Trust offers an exceptional work environment characterized by numerous dedicated teams committed to delivering top-notch patient care. They have embraced significant changes to their operational approach to effectively address the evolving landscape of the NHS, earning a Good rating from the Care Quality Commission in June 2018.

At this NHS Foundation Trust, they are pioneering the digital health revolution. Since implementing a comprehensive Electronic Patient Record system in 2017, they have embarked on a journey to establish ourselves as the safest, most efficient, and patient-centered trust within the NHS. The Electronic Patient Record system is just one component of their ongoing initiative to cultivate a digital ecosystem within the trust, ultimately striving to become a completely paper-free organization. This modernization endeavor opens up exciting avenues for future research and development in the rapidly evolving field of medicine. By joining the team, you have the opportunity to contribute to this innovative domain dedicated to enhancing patient care through advancements in technology.

Dermatology Team & Department

The Dermatology service sees 16,500 appointments yearly for diagnosing and treating various skin conditions, including skin cancers, lesions, eczema, psoriasis, urticaria, and Vulval conditions. The Dermatology Department is offering outpatient clinics and a comprehensive array of treatments, including minor operations. Additionally, a limited number of clinics and treatments are available at the newly established outpatient facility located in one of their sites.

The Dermatology service currently has over 5000 2ww Outpatient attendances per annum for the diagnosis and treatment of potential skin cancer. Outpatient clinics are run from both sites with an inpatient in-reach service run across their two sites. Facilities within the dermatology department include modern outpatient clinics, diagnostic services, and treatment rooms, ensuring a comfortable and efficient environment for patients and staff alike. They also collaborate closely with other specialties within the trust to provide multidisciplinary care when required, ensuring holistic management of complex cases.

Life in Yorkshire & Humberside

Yorkshire & Humberside offers a diverse mix of rural and urban settings, providing a range of living environments for doctors. Residents can enjoy scenic landscapes, including the Yorkshire Dales and Yorkshire Moors, ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and cycling. The region boasts top-quality schools and universities, such as the University of Leeds and the University of Sheffield. Transportation links are excellent, with easy access to major cities like Leeds, Sheffield, and Manchester via road and rail networks. Housing options vary from quaint villages to bustling city centers, catering to different preferences and lifestyles.

Career Development and Opportunities Available

With an extremely active education/teaching programme supported by the consultant team, there is opportunity to work towards and complete CESR, RCPsych 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?

All candidates must be GMC registered to be suitable for consideration.

EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Dermatology
  • Relevant primary medical qualification

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • MRCP UK or PLAB
  • SCE dermatology desirable
  • Experience of working in Dermatology

UK based applicants:

  • Experience of working in Dermatology
£93,666-£126,281

We are currently looking for an experienced Clinical Oncologist, who works with both chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments for a large acute hospital in the Midlands, England.

You\'d be joining a team of 8 clinical and 2 medical oncology consultants at the modern Oncology Centre (opened in mid 2010\'s), to help support and develop site-specific services in outpatient and chemotherapy as part of the development of the centre. 

There are 3 Elekta LINACS with VMAT and IGRT, using Mosaiq and Raystation for RT planning on site, along with 35 chemo day chairs used across 3 hospitals under this NHS trust.

JOB REQUIREMENTS:

  • FRCR Clinical Oncology or equivalent
  • Excellent english language skills
  • Extensive experience as a consultant oncologist (UK or overseas experience)

LENGTH OF CONTRACT:
12 - 24 months fixed term (subject to be renewed)

Benefits:

  • Attractive salary and relocation package
  • Training and development opportunities
  • CESR support for those eligible
  • Tier 2 Health and Care Visa (sponsorship for the whole family)
  • Guidance regarding the CV and full interview preparation
  • Assistance regarding the GMC registration, visa, accommodation and transportation by an experienced onboarding specialist
  • Complete IMG Relocation service from start to finish of process

GRADE:
Locum Consultant

Specialty & Special Interests:
Clinical Oncology with primary interest in Gynaecological and Upper GI cancers

£93,666-£126,281

An exciting NHS job opportunity is open for a Consultant Clinical Oncologist specializing in Lung & Breast Cancer at an NHS Trust that has been rated \"good\" over all by the CQC. This NHS Trust has undergone significant development, emphasizing patient and community care excellence. With £58 million in national funding, the Trust boasts a University Hospital status, prioritizing research, education, and training. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) lauds the Trust\'s outstanding performance, with 992 beds and 92% patient recommendation, serving a population of 675,000.

This position aims to strengthen the Oncology team, focusing on lung cancer care and Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR). Situated at the dynamic centre within the \"good\"-rated trust, the role contributes to systemic treatment advancements and ongoing research. The Oncology Department at the Combined Haematology Oncology Centre caters to 1-1.5 million residents. Designated as a Cancer Centre since 1996, the Centre collaborates with neighboring hospitals, fostering a multidisciplinary approach. The purpose-built Cancer Centre, equipped with advanced imaging, provides nurse-led services, chemotherapy units, and home-delivered immunotherapy.

The post holder is expected to: 

  • Participate in all facets of departmental activity.

Career development at the Trust includes access to CESR support, specialty training, and opportunities for external duties. The forward-thinking Oncology department initiated SABR practices in 2021 and maintains a dynamic research team supporting various clinical trials.

Life in the area, a historic home of the Royal Navy, offers cultural richness and proximity to scenic countryside. A thriving artistic community, excellent schools, and various development projects contribute to the vibrant atmosphere. The area combines city conveniences with picturesque villages, making it an excellent place to raise a family!

This comprehensive opportunity integrates the Consultant role, SABR RT specialisation, CESR support, and coastal life in the UK, creating a fulfilling and enriching professional and personal experience. 

AM I ELIGIBLE FOR THIS ROLE? 

EEA Candidates: 

  • Recognised European Medical Degree or Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • FRCR or equivalent qualification 

UK Based Candidates: 

  • FRCR qualification

This is a great opportunity for any experienced consultant clinical oncologist working towards CESR in Clinical oncology specialist registration in the UK.

88,364 - 119,133

Want to be a part of a supportive and dynamic team as a Consultant in Gastroenterology?

Embrace this exciting chance to be part of a healthcare environment where your expertise will be valued and your contributions deeply appreciated. An excellent NHS Foundation Trust invites talented and dedicated medical professionals to seize an outstanding opportunity in Gastroenterology at one of their hospitals. As a renowned University teaching hospital, the trust places a strong emphasis on Medical and Dental Education, ensuring that all staff receive exceptional training and patients benefit from top-notch care.

Joining their innovative and dynamic Gastroenterology Department promises a rewarding career filled with diverse cases and comprehensive support from a team of skilled healthcare professionals. As a valued member of the thriving Gastroenterology team, you will have ample career development opportunities. Overseas doctors can work towards completing their CESR and explore sub-specialty areas of interest, further expanding their professional horizons. Moreover, there are exciting opportunities to engage in teaching and supervision of undergraduate medical students, fostering the next generation of medical professionals.

In the are where the Trust is situated, you will discover a vibrant community with a rich historical heritage and a welcoming atmosphere. The city\'s picturesque setting, surrounded by the breathtaking landscapes of the Lake District and the coastline, provides a serene backdrop for both work and leisure. The area boasts a renowned university, adding an intellectual and creative dimension to the city\'s spirit. The constant influx of students fosters a commitment to learning and research, ensuring you have access to cutting-edge medical advancements and resources to further enhance your expertise.

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE?

EEA candidates: 
•    Recognised European Medical Degree or Specialist Qualification in Gastroenterology
•    Extensive experience in Gastroenterology
  
Non-EEA candidates: 
•    MRCP 
•    Extensive experience in Gastroenterology

UK-based candidates: 
•    Extensive experience in Gastroenterology
•    Within 6-months of CESR or CCT in Gastroenterology

This is a great job for any experienced overseas Gastroenterologists working towards CESR and specialist registration in the UK.

£40,000 to £80,000

An excellent opportunity for a dynamic & motivated Consultants in Elderly Care Medicine to join a friendly and enthusiastic team. The large and dynamic department is focused in providing the highest quality care possible for older patients. The position provides an opportunity to negotiate job plans to fit specialist interests. They have a new Medical School at the centre of their community, a focus on research, clinical leadership and making their trust a rewarding and friendly place to work, there’s never been a better time to join them.

This is a great opportunity for overseas Consultants who want to establish themselves in the NHS, and grow their career. The post is suitable for candidates holding specialisation in the EEA, or for experienced IMGs looking to complete CESR.

WHAT IS THE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST LIKE? 

The NHS Foundation Trust is one of the largest hospital trusts in the country, serving a population of around 759,000 people. The trust operates several hospitals and healthcare facilities. They provide a comprehensive range of healthcare services, including specialist services in areas such as cancer care, cardiology, respiratory medicine, and neurology. The NHS Foundation Trust also works closely with local healthcare partners, such as primary care providers and community services, to ensure coordinated and integrated care for patients.

The NHS Foundation Trust has a strong interest in improving the health of the communities they serve through research and innovation. Their hospitals take part in many clinical research studies and recruit high numbers of patients into research trials. They are a teaching Trust, which play a vital role in the education and training of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, working closely with local universities.

The NHS Foundation Trust\'s greatest asset is their hardworking, talented and dynamic workforce - they strive for excellence every day, providing quality care and support to those who use their service. 

WHAT IS THE DEPARTMENT & TEAM LIKE? 

The Acute Geriatric services are provided on all 3 main Trust sites. The department provides a multidisciplinary, multi-agency falls prevention service across acute sites. The service has been operating since 2002 and has grown considerably. The Geriatricians are responsible for providing emergency care of the older person from ED/ emergency floor through to discharge. The wards are supported by daily board rounds led by a Consultant Geriatrician and strong multidisciplinary team. 

The sites operate an age-related take at admission, but are implementing frailty identification early in the emergency pathway to enable prompt CGA initiation, working closely with an established Integrated Discharge Team and their community partners. The frail patients with acute medical illnesses are admitted directly to a Frailty ward from A&E. The service provides a comprehensive osteoporosis service, and has a Dementia Team, comprising of a Matron and 2 Band 6 nurses supported by Clinicians.

The post holder is expected to communicate effectively with all other medical and service departments within the hospital, and with GPs and other hospitals, to ensure continuous care for each patient. The post holder is expected to undertake non-emergency work during premium time as required. The post holder will lead on Parkinson disease and movement disorders.

WHAT IS LIFE LIKE IN THE REGION?

Life in the area offers a mix of urban and rural environments, with a variety of attractions and amenities to enhance the quality of life for residents. The area is renowned for its stunning coastline, featuring picturesque beaches, cliffs and seaside towns, and a vibrant atmosphere during the summer months. The region has a rich historical and cultural heritage. The city also offers a wealth of history, with cobbled streets, medieval architecture, and a vibrant arts scene. The area boasts a diverse and picturesque countryside.

The area is home to several reputable educational institutions, and it has good transportation links. The area is served by rail connections, including the high-speed train service that connects Canterbury and Thanet to London. The place offers a range of recreational activities to cater to different interests. From visiting historical sites and museums to enjoying water sports, golfing, or exploring the countryside, there are numerous opportunities for leisure and relaxation.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU?

The NHS Foundation Trust is one of the most research-active acute Trusts in the region and they encourage all newly appointed Consultants to take on the role of Principal Investigator, with full training and support. The successful candidate will play their part in teaching the next generation of doctors, nurses and other clinical staff. The NHS Foundation Trust will ask you to help recruit junior staff and supervise their education, including their educational contracts, regular appraisal, study leave, annual leave and rotas – and make sure you keep up-to-date on educational development.

???????If you’re a new consultant, you’ll be asked to enroll on an approved educational supervisor accreditation course by their medical educational department.


ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR THIS ROLE?

EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Geriatric Medicine
  • Board Certified Specialist in Geriatric Medicine

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Geriatric Medicine
  • Full MRCP UK
  • Eligibility for GMC registration
  • OET or IELTS (candidates who have booked their test and have good levels of English will be considered)

UK based applicants

  • Experience of working in Geriatric Medicine
  • Within 6 - 12 months of completing CCT
Overseas doctors with interests in entering specialty training programmes and working towards CCT are urged to apply for these fantastic posts in beautiful locations across the UK.

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