MRCPsych - a guide for overseas psychiatrists

  • August 11, 2022
 

For overseas psychiatrists looking to register with the GMC and find a psychiatry job in the NHS, one option is to complete the Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists examinations - MRCPsych. Here we will take a detailed look at the MRCPsych exams, fees and centres. 

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) from any country in the world can sit the MRCPsych examinations, provided certain eligibility criteria are met. These are summarised below along with a broad look at the following topics:


The Royal College of Psychiatrists is the professional body responsible for the specialty of Psychiatry throughout the UK. Among many other duties, its role is to set and monitor the educational curriculum for those training to enter the profession.


What is MRCPsych? 

The MRCPsych examinations are the central component of training for psychiatrists in the UK and the examinations are designed to test your knowledge of basic medical sciences as well as the clinical skills required for diagnosis and management within psychiatry. 

For international doctors, MRCPsych is one of the two main routes IMGs can take to full GMC registration - you can find a range of articles covering these routes in our resource library here: Royal College or PLAB route

For doctors who wish to take more senior roles reflective of their current practice, IMG Connect advise that MRCPsych would be the best route to take.

Overseas doctors must be registered with a recognised medical board in their country of residence and should have undertaken 3 years of training and MRCPsych (UK) is a prerequisite to anyone wishing to go on to a specialist training post as a physician in the UK

What is the exam content and format? 

The MRCPsych examinations consist of two written papers (Paper A + Paper B) and one clinical examination (CASC). 

Typically, a UK Psychiatrist would sit Paper A from FY2. Candidates will then progress through MRCPsych examinations from CT1 – CT3, before going on to specially training for CCT. 

Paper A – The scientific and theoretical basis of psychiatry – 3 hours

This is a written paper, worth 150 marks and comprising 150 questions made up of approximately two thirds multiple choice questions (MCQ) and one third extended matching item questions (EMI). 

It covers the following sections of the syllabus: 

Paper A is now taken online. 

Paper B - Critical review and the clinical topics in psychiatry – 3 hours

This is a written paper, worth 150 marks and comprising 150 questions made up of approximately one third covering critical review and two thirds covering clinical topics. 

It covers the following sections of the syllabus: 

Paper B is now taken online. 

CASC - Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies

The CASC is based on a format that is similar to OSCEs. Specifically, the examination consists of two circuits which must be completed on the same day.

In total, the circuit includes 16 stations, made up of: 

  • five stations on history taking, including risk assessment
  • five stations on examination, including physical and mental state
  • six stations on patient management 

Stations consist of several elements with instructions provided to all candidates, marked against the examiners construct. 

These have a standardised format with elements in common between stations of a similar type. Find out more here.

The CASC exam is taken in person.

Eligibility for overseas doctors

The MRCPsych examinations can be taken by both:  

  • Doctors from the EU, who are working overseas
  • Non-Eu doctors who are working overseas

Each examination has different criteria, to complete the full MRCPsych, an overseas doctor must be registered with a recognised medical board in their country of residence and complete the Assessment Portfolio for Overseas Candidates demonstrating that they have complete 3 years of equivalent training. 

Furthermore, prior to taking CASC, overseas candidates must demonstrate competencies in Psychotherapy AND Child & Adolescent Psychiatry or Learning Disability.

For each part of the exam the Royal College suggest the following eligibility criteria: 

MRCPsych Paper A

You are eligible for Paper A if you are a fully registered medical practitioner. 

MRCPsych Paper B

It is a recommended to have at least 12 months experience in psychiatry before taking this examination. 

Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies (CASC):

You are eligible to take CASC if you have 24 months post internship experience in Psychiatry, by the time of sitting the CASC

AND

You have a pass in both Paper A and B

AND

You can demonstrate you have sponsorship in place. Sponsorship forms must be submitted by an appropriate medical education lead confirming that the eligibility requirements to sit the MRCPsych examinations have been met. 

In addition, overseas candidates must show their sponsor evidence of having achieved equivalent competencies at appropriate competency levels (year 1, 2, 3) for each component of the examination.

Assessment Portfolio for Overseas Candidates:

As above, one aspect of eligibility for CASC as to complete an Assessment Portfolio. This must demonstrate achievement of equivalent competencies to those defined in the ARCP documented on the application form, this must include competencies in Psychotherapy AND Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, or Learning Disability have been achieved by the time of applying for the MRCPsych CASC.

In addition, overseas candidates must demonstrate that they undertake the following activities as part of their structured job plans:

  • be observed interviewing patients in ward rounds for specified reasons 
  • be observed interviewing patients in out-patient or community settings or other contexts for specified reasons 
  • be assessed via formal presentation of cases with their medical notes; discuss management of cases with their Clinical or Educational Supervisor
  • be assessed formally in having achieved competencies in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry or Learning Disability AND Psychotherapy

Assessments and achievement of competencies should take place in a range of settings and psychiatric specialties with structured, documented feedback on performance having been provided.  

Whilst there is not an assessment criteria form available as this is incorporated into the online submission, take a look at the ARCP assessment portfolio form for CT1-3 in the UK, which should help give you a starting point for your own portfolio. 

Sponsorship requirements

International candidates must have a sponsor in place in order to support evidence that their three years of training satisfy Royal College criteria of having achieved equivalent competencies at appropriate competency levels (year 1, 2, 3) for each component of the examination. 

Sponsorship is required by all applicants for entry to the CASC examination and your sponsor should be an appropriate medical education lead confirming you have met the requirements to sit the MRCPsych examinations.

Acceptable sponsors are: 

  • College Tutor
  • Training Programme Director
  • Educational Supervisor
  • Head of School
  • Director of Medical Education (or equivalent)
  • Head of Department of Psychiatry
  • Consultant responsible for employee/trainee appraisal

Once your sponsor has authorised your application, you will receive a confirmation email from the Royal College, and you will be asked to complete your application and proceed to payment.

How do I apply? 

To apply you will need to complete an online application form. It takes about 15 – 20 minutes. You can sit Paper A and B in any order. You will be required to enter contact details and training history, including your medical registration.

Payment is made by credit/debit card. 

If applying for the CASC, you will also need to provide the contact details of your sponsor.

It is important to note that the online form for Paper A, B and CASC will only be available during the published application dates and must be submitted before the closing date and time. Applications submitted after, will not be accepted.

How much will it cost me?

Candidate

Paper A

Paper B

CASC

PMPT Trainees and Affiliates (UK & Ireland Centres)

£496

£446

£1,024

Non-PMPT Trainees and Affiliates (UK & Ireland Centres)

£550

£495

£1,137

Where and when can I sit the examinations?

The good news is that changes have been made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Paper A and B can be taken online, making it much easier for IMGs to complete the MRCPsych examinations and work towards their GMC registration in a normal time frame. To maintain the integrity fo the CASC exam, delivery will be in-person only from September 2023.

You can sit the examination from your home country with details on submissions and preparation for an online exam available on the Royal College website.

For up-to-date information on application and exam dates, please see the Royal College website here.

How do I prepare for the MRCPsych examinations? 

With lots of materials online we have discussed with IMGs the best place to start looking for resources and materials relating to the exams. Most IMGs recommended starting with the Royal College, who have created useful resources to help you to prepare for the exams. See below: 

Syllabus:

We always suggest that this is the best place to start – plan your study around the curriculum topics and make a road map to your success in the exams. 

Syllabus: summary of areas of core medical knowledge underpinning specialist training in psychiatry 

Current critical review syllabus:

For Paper B candidates will need to ensure that they make optimal use of the MRCPsych Paper B Critical review Evidence Based Practice Syllabic Content. 

Sample Papers:

These will help you prepare and polish your exam techniques and are a good idea to regularly benchmark your knowledge against the syllabus. In addition sample questions will help you work quickly on the day, you will already know what to expect. Please note: you may be required to be a member to access these. 

Paper A sample questions

Paper B sample questions 

Marking schemes (Paper A and B):

Candidates pass or fail the written papers based on their performance, and not how well you perform against other candidates. As such, it is a good idea to understand how the exam is worked, so you can maximise your exam skills, giving you the best chance of a pass. 

Marking schemes can be found here

Marking scheme (CASC):

A good start with CASC preparation is to get to know how you will be assessed, take a look at the criteria for scoring a pass mark in CASC, as well as the History Marksheet, Management Marksheet and Examination Marksheet

Written papers marksheet example:

Again, this is a useful tool to help you familiarise yourself with the exam format and improve your test skills. An example marksheet can be found here

CASC examination guide:

The Royal College have produced a helpful guide for candidates which provides information on stations, role plays and assessment. 

CASC preparation videos:

Here you will have the opportunity to see CASC stations in action. This will give you a good idea of what to expect and help you prepare. 

CASC Blueprint:

This helpful summary details stations in some detail and gives a useful overview of the exam format. 

The Royal College also suggest taking a look at Passing the MRCPsych - an insider’s guide - a useful guide to help you to get over the first steps. 

As ever at IMG Connect, we believe in preparation. In order to succeed in the clinical exam, IMGs have told us that it is vital that you practise your clinical examinations as frequently as possible, preferably under the supervision of a senior colleague. This will give you confidence in approaching and examining children with examiners present.

Passed? What's next? 

First of all, congratulations! After you have passed all parts of MRCPsych you can apply for a full registration with a license to practice. Once the GMC have approved your application, you can work as a doctor in the UK.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch using the buttons above (and below) and chat with an IMG Consultant to discuss your options for NHS roles with CESR support and start your journey towards Specialist Registration with IMG Connect. 

For access to a community of like-minded psychiatry IMGs and dedicated psychiatry recruiters, join the IMG Psychiatrists Facebook group.   

To receive the latest news and updates on all things psychiatry, including the Royal College, GMC registration and the NHS, follow us on social media and join the conversation.  

            

 

Relevant Jobs

110,257 - 164,372

We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to a Crisis & Assessment Team role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather.

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%.

The Department & Team

The Crisis and Assessment Team (CAT) serves as the primary gateway to adult and older people\'s mental health services, conducting assessments in the community and emergency settings, alongside medical reviews. They collaborate closely with law enforcement, responding to Adult Protection Notices and coordinating mental health law assessments. This role within the CAT focuses on streamlining referrals, providing short-term crisis interventions, and ensuring individuals receive appropriate ongoing care. You\'ll engage with both working-age adults and older adults, with responsibilities extending to police referrals and mental health law assessments during standard working hours, with on-call commitments.

Continued Professional Development

Professional development is integral to their ethos, offering CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and opportunities for sub-specialist development. They prioritize ongoing learning through conferences, local CME events, and a generous study leave allowance.

Life in the area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.


Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum consultant experience

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification


Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCPsych
  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry
110,257 - 164,372

We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to an Old Age role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather.

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%.

 

What is the health & community service like?

Working in this location is professionally rewarding, offering high-quality, patient-centered care. Clinicians lead in developing and managing services, supported by strong links with UK specialists. With a generous study leave budget, doctors are encouraged to pursue further education. Exciting developments include a new general hospital and a new mental health inpatient unit. The service fosters strong relationships between mental health, primary, and secondary care, promoting joint learning and teaching in a modern education center.

What is the department & team like?

The inpatient services are currently undergoing extensive refurbishment, including two wards for older adults. One ward offers 14 assessment beds for individuals over 65 experiencing functional mental health issues, with some flexibility for those under 65. The other ward provides 10 assessment beds for patients with dementia. Following the refurbishment, the latter ward will feature 8 acute assessment beds and 8 transitional/step-down beds for those with dementia or enduring mental health problems who cannot be supported in local nursing or residential homes.

The Older Adults Community Mental Health Team (OACMHT) manages a caseload of about 300 patients, including new referrals triaged by the Crisis and Assessment team, providing both short-term treatment and long-term care coordination. The role involves providing medical support to the OACMHT alongside two other consultants and a staff grade doctor.

The post holder will join an established team, comprising 2 WTE older adult consultants, 1.0 WTE Associate Specialist (Memory Assessment Service), 2.0 WTE staff grades (inpatient and community), and 1.0 WTE F1 doctor (inpatients and community). Dedicated administrative support includes a 0.5 WTE medical secretary and ward and team secretarial support.

Continued Professional Development

This position offers further training and accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interests. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. The organization supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in 3 years and an annual study leave allowance. Regular case discussions, teaching sessions, and MDT supervision ensure ongoing professional development, meeting the Royal College of Psychiatrists\' CPD requirements.

Living in the Area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.

Am I eligible for this role?Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Old Age Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum Consultant Experience
EEA candidates: 
  • Experience in Old Age Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification
Non-EEA candidates:
  • MRCPsych
  • Consultant experience in Old Age Psychiatry
110,257 - 164,372

We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to a General Adult role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather. 

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%

General Adult Psychiatry Department & Team

The inpatient service features 17 adult acute beds, including an extra-care area, for individuals aged 18 to 65 with severe mental illness requiring admission. The goal is to promote recovery and well-being, helping service users achieve their potential. The service caters to a diverse population with complex needs. The multidisciplinary inpatient team includes doctors (two part-time consultants, staff grade/clinical fellow, and F2), a clinical psychologist, nurses, a social worker, occupational therapists, an art therapist, healthcare assistants, and administrative staff.

The Home Treatment Team functions as a step-up, step-down service to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and facilitate early discharge. They attend ward reviews, support patients on leave, and assist with discharge planning, also gatekeeping inpatient beds. The team includes two part-time consultants, a 0.5 FTE team manager, two FTE senior practitioners, 5.5 FTE nurse practitioners, one FTE social worker, three FTE senior HCAs, and one FTE occupational therapist. Covering all adult ages, there is an arrangement with an Older Adult Consultant for additional support if needed.

Continued Professional Development

This position offers further training and accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interests. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. The organization supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in three years and an annual study leave allowance. Regular case discussions, teaching sessions, and MDT supervision ensure ongoing professional development, meeting the Royal College of Psychiatrists\' CPD requirements.

Living in the Area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Adult Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum Consultant Experience

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in Adult Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCPsych
  • Consultant experience in Adult Psychiatry
110,257 - 164,372
We are looking to recruit a Consultant Psychiatrist to a Child & Adolescent  role in the Channel Islands, a UK territory sitting off the coast of France and just a 1 hour flight from London. This job presents a great opportunity to advance your medical career in the UK.

The health service, separate from the NHS, is an integrated, taxation-funded system, free at the point of delivery, managed by the Health and Community Services Department on the island. Key benefits of working there are higher salaries than the NHS, lower taxes and sunnier weather.

Consultant Pay range - £110,257 to £164,372
Single rate of tax - 20%.

The post holder will be expected to take on the full range of duties including the routine and emergency diagnosis and management of children and young people with significant mental health problems (up to the age of 18), the support of other team members, and providing consultation and advice to other agencies. Successful applicants will be encouraged to develop a special interest and take a clinical lead in one of the following areas: Eating Disorders, Crisis Intervention, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, or Transition.

The Health Service

Working for this service is professionally rewarding, offering high-quality, patient-centered care. Their clinicians lead in developing and managing services, supported by strong links with UK specialists. With a generous study leave budget, doctors are encouraged to pursue further education. Exciting developments include a new general hospital and a new mental health inpatient unit. They foster strong relationships between mental health, primary, and secondary care, promoting joint learning and teaching in their modern education centre.

Department & Team

The Mental Health Service is staffed by a dedicated multi-disciplinary team, supported by secretarial and administrative staff. The service provides comprehensive assessment, treatment, and therapeutic interventions for a wide range of developmental, behavioral, emotional, and psychiatric issues in children and young people up to their 18th birthday.

Currently, CAMHS manages 1,627 open cases. In 2022, 926 new referrals were received, with 752 new referrals to date in 2023. The current locum postholder\'s caseload is approximately 90, with most cases having an allocated care coordinator. While most new assessments are conducted by other members of the multi-disciplinary team, some will require an initial medical assessment. On average, there are 1-2 new assessments and 15-20 follow-up appointments per week, depending on case complexity and other commitments.

Continued Professional Development

The health service offers further training & accreditation within psychiatry, including CESR Portfolio Pathway Support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interest. The post holder will have ample opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and experience through attendance at relevant courses, conferences, and locally organized CME events. Health & Community Services supports Continuing Medical Education with time and financial support, offering study leave of 30 days in 3 years, and an annual study leave allowance. Regular case discussions, teaching sessions, and MDT supervision ensure ongoing professional development, meeting the Royal College of Psychiatrists\' CPD requirements.

Living in the Area

Living in this location offers significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate of 20% is notably advantageous compared to the UK, and a generous public sector pension scheme is provided, not constrained by UK lifetime or annual contribution limits. The consultant contract closely mirrors the UK model but offers higher incremental levels starting at £110,257 and with a top basic salary of £164,372.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:
  • Experience in Child & Adolescent  Psychiatry
  • Specialist Registration or locum Consultant Experience
EEA candidates: 
  • Experience in Child & Adolescent  Psychiatry
  • European Specialist Qualification
Non-EEA candidates:
  • MRCPsych
  • Consultant experience in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
52,530 - 82,400

A prime opportunity awaits a dedicated Specialty Doctor in Psychiatry to join the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team (CRHTT) for a NHS job in the UK, with CESR support. Located at Eaglestone Health Centre on Milton Keynes Hospital Campus, you\'ll provide top-tier assessment, consultation, and treatment for individuals in mental health crises, with office space and administrative support.

As part of a medical team with a Consultant Psychiatrist and Trainee Doctor, you\'ll demonstrate motivation, energy, and a fervent commitment to exceptional patient care. Strong teamwork, organizational skills, initiative, effective communication, and empathy are key. Operated by an NHS Foundation Trust that is known for excellence locally, nationally, and internationally, this role offers professional growth opportunities for EU-trained specialists and experienced IMGs seeking CESR completion.

What is the NHS Foundation Trust like?

Established in 2002 through the merger of several trusts, this NHS Foundation Trust is among the UK\'s largest. With about 7,000 staff, they serve a third of London\'s population and extend services to areas like Milton Keynes, Kent, Surrey, and Hampshire.

Their focus is on delivering patient-centered, safe, and effective care across various settings, from hospitals to community clinics and even patients\' homes. They emphasize community-based services, aligning with the NHS\'s modernization goals. They prioritize recruiting exceptional individuals who support patients and colleagues alike, offering opportunities for career development. The role entails participating in clinical supervision sessions with the team\'s consultant psychiatrist.

What is the Department & Team like?

The Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team (CRHTT) comprises a multi-disciplinary group of mental health professionals delivering a 7-day service for individuals in acute psychiatric crises. They offer intensive community-based interventions as an alternative to hospitalization and support early discharge, facilitating the transition back to the community. The team triages referrals, deciding on home treatment or admission, aiming to provide less restrictive alternatives to hospitalization when feasible.

The Team is composed of:

  • 1.0 wte Consultant Psychiatrist
  • 1.0 wte Specialty Doctor
  • 1.0 wte Core Trainee / equivalent
  • 1.0 wte Team Manager
  • 3.0 wte Senior Practitioner Band 7
  • 14.5 wte Mental Health Practitioner Band 6
  • 2.6 wte Occupational Therapist Band 6
  • 2 wte Therapy Support Staff Band 4
  • 6.6 wte Support Worker Band 3
  • 3 wte Medical Secretary and Team Administrator Band 4

The post holder is expected to make an assessment, diagnosis, formulation of risks and development of a management plan for new referrals, re-referrals and patients under the care of the team. The post holder is expected to identify need for referrals to other services such as referrals for psychological interventions and review treatment plans and risk assessments of patients in the service.

Career Development & Opportunities Available

There is real opportunity to progress through CESR at pace at this trust, with a strong desire for newly-qualified consultants to develop their specialty areas of interest and undertake in various cancer trials and research projects where possible. Research is encouraged here, particularly when this is appropriate to professional development and to the service development of the department. 

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. 

Life in South East

South East, a vibrant urban area in Buckinghamshire, offers a blend of city amenities and rural charm. Residents enjoy scenic parks & perfect for outdoor activities. The area boasts excellent schools and universities. Transportation links are convenient, with easy access to major cities like London and Birmingham via train and nearby airports like Luton and Birmingham. Housing options range from modern apartments in the city center to spacious suburban homes, catering to diverse preferences and lifestyles.

Am I eligible for this role?
UK based candidates:

  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry - Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team
EEA candidates: 
  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry - Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team
Non-EEA candidates:
  • MRCPsych
  • Experience in General Adult Psychiatry - Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team

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