Specialist Medicine - a Doctor's Route to the UK

  • November 05, 2021
 

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

110,257 - 164,372

An exciting opportunity has arisen within the Acute Medicine Department. They are looking to appoint an Acute & General Internal Medicine Consultant, a great opportunity to further your medical career in the UK. This NHS job offers CESR Portfolio Pathway support, and international applications from IMGs are welcome.

The successful candidate will be the clinical lead and will drive the development and transformation of acute medicine, where patient-centered care is at the heart of the services. The role involves working within the Acute Assessment Unit, which consists of a 25-bed inpatient area including a 5-bed enhanced care area and an adjacent 6-space Ambulatory Emergency Care Unit.

Health Service

Working for this health 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 center.

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. This is a unique opportunity to help shape an integrated care system with closer political engagement than in the UK.

Department & Team

Medicine in this health service is fully integrated by age and specialty, with three medical wards: . The EAU has a 5-bedded Enhanced Care Area and a separate intensive care unit led by intensivists. The AEC Unit is supported by a SAS doctor and consultants. The department comprises a 16-bed EAU, staffed by 11 consultants, 8 SAS doctors, 7 FY1 doctors, 2 FY2 doctors, and 6 Clinical Fellows, organized into 8 medical teams and the EAU team.

The specialty of Acute Medicine is based within the Emergency Assessment Unit (EAU). The service includes a 25-bed Acute Assessment Unit (AAU) featuring 5 enhanced care beds and an Ambulatory Emergency Care (AEC) Unit. The post holder will work across both the AAU and the AEC.

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. 

Life in the area

Living in the area presents significant financial benefits. The flat income tax rate is notably advantageous compared to the U.K., and they provide a generous public sector pension scheme that isn\'t constrained by U.K. lifetime or annual contribution limits. The Consultant Contract closely mirrors the U.K. model but offers higher incremental levels. Incremental progression is automatic from points 1 to 17 on the pay scale based on satisfactory performance, while formal applications are necessary for points 18 to 20.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

•    Experience in Acute & General Internal Medicine

EEA candidates: 
•    Experience in Acute & General Internal Medicine
•    European Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA candidates:
•    MRCP
•    Experience in Acute & General Internal Medicine

An excellent NHS job opportunity for an experienced Specialist in Stroke Medicine to join this NHS Trust as a Specialist working in an established stroke department in the UK. This NHS job offers CESR Portfolio Pathway support and international applications from IMGs are welcome. In this role, you will be part of a dedicated team that provides high-quality care to patients with stroke conditions. The position is ideal for doctors looking to further their careers in a supportive and progressive environment. If you are an enthusiastic and committed professional seeking a challenging and rewarding opportunity in stroke medicine, you are encouraged to apply.

The NHS Trust
The trust serves a diverse population with a team of over 8,200 clinical and support staff. They run major acute services at several hospitals, including one with the country’s top-rated hyper-acute stroke unit. The Trust is renowned for its excellence in clinical services and medical education. The hospitals are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, and they are committed to providing innovative and high-quality care. LNWH is dedicated to continuous improvement and strives to be a leader in healthcare delivery. By joining the Trust, you will be part of a team that values collaboration, excellence, and patient-centered care.

The Stroke Medicine Department & Team
The Stroke Medicine Department is recognized as the best in the country, offering comprehensive stroke services, including a hyper-acute stroke unit and a hyper-acute rehabilitation unit. The team includes specialists in stroke medicine, neurology, and rehabilitation, working collaboratively to provide exceptional patient care. The department is committed to a multidisciplinary approach, ensuring that patients receive holistic and effective treatment. They pride themselves on their research and innovation, continuously seeking ways to improve stroke care. The team is supportive and welcoming, providing an excellent environment for professional growth and development.

Continued Professional Development
This NHS job offers further training & accreditation within Stroke Medicine, including CESR Portfolio Pathway Support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interest. The Trust ensures continuous professional development and career progression through extensive training and education programs. You will have the opportunity to attend national and international conferences, participate in workshops and seminars, and engage in research activities. The commitment to your professional development means you will receive the support and resources needed to achieve your career goals and enhance your expertise in stroke medicine.

Life in the area
The hospital is situated in a vibrant area that offers a mix of urban and suburban living, excellent schools, parks, and recreational facilities. The area is culturally diverse and well-connected to central London, making it an attractive option for international doctors and their families. With a lower cost of living compared to central London, the area provides a comfortable and affordable lifestyle. There are numerous cultural and social activities to enjoy, from local festivals to museums and theaters. The nearby natural areas of beauty, such as the Chiltern Hills and several parks, offer ample opportunities for outdoor activities and relaxation, making it an ideal place to live and work.

Am I eligible for this role?
UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Stroke Medicine

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in Stroke Medicine
  • European Specialist Qualification 

Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCP UK 
  • Experience in Stroke Medicine

An excellent NHS job opportunity for an experienced Neurology Consultant (CESR Support) to join this NHS Trust as a Consultant working in an established neurology department in the UK. This NHS job offers CESR Portfolio Pathway support and international applications from IMGs are welcome. The role supports neurological services within the Trust, ensuring comprehensive clinical services for patients and the community. The post holder will engage with other consultant colleagues in developing future service models to meet the changing needs of patients using the neurology services.

The NHS Trust

This NHS Trust is dedicated to providing high-quality healthcare services to its local community. The Trust serves a large population through its hospitals and community services, ensuring comprehensive care across various medical specialties. It has strong affiliations with regional neuroscience centers, fostering collaboration and excellence in patient care. The Trust continually strives to deliver innovative and transformative services, enhancing the quality of care and patient outcomes.

The Trust maintains a focus on integrated care, working closely with health and social care partners to provide seamless service delivery. This collaborative approach ensures that patients receive the right care at the right time, tailored to their individual needs. The organization is committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion, ensuring that all patients and staff are treated with respect and dignity.

The Neurology Department & Team

The Neurology department at this NHS Trust is committed to providing high-quality care to patients with neurological conditions. The department includes five consultant-level posts, an Associate Specialist, specialty doctors, and a deanery registrar, ensuring comprehensive and specialised care for patients. The team collaborates closely with regional neuroscience centers, benefiting from shared expertise and resources.

Specialist nurses in Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Epilepsy work closely with Consultant Neurologists, providing essential support and education to patients and their families. The department is focused on developing sub-specialty expertise and expanding services locally and regionally. It is an integral part of the West Yorkshire Neurology Network (WYNN), which aims to deliver innovative neurological services across the region.

Continued Professional Development

This NHS job offers further training & accreditation within Neurology, including CESR Portfolio Pathway Support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interest. The successful candidate is encouraged to engage in clinical research, teaching, and development. The Trust supports ongoing professional development through various programs, ensuring that consultants can continually enhance their clinical skills and advance their careers.

Participation in the regional academic day organized by the regional neuroscience centers is expected, providing opportunities for professional growth and collaboration. This commitment to professional development ensures that the neurology department remains at the forefront of clinical excellence.

Life in Yorkshire & Humberside

The region offers a lower cost of living compared to larger cities, making it an attractive option for international doctors and their families. With excellent schools, diverse communities, and convenient transport links to major cities, it provides a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle. The area boasts a rich cultural heritage and beautiful natural landscapes, ideal for outdoor activities and family life.

The combination of professional opportunities, cultural richness, and natural beauty makes this region a great place for doctors to advance their careers and enjoy a high quality of life.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Neurology

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in Neurology
  • European Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCP UK 
  • Experience in Neurology
99,532  - 131,964

An excellent NHS job opportunity for an experienced Stroke Medicine Consultant to join this NHS Trust as a Consultant working in an established stroke medicine department in the UK. This NHS job offers CESR Portfolio Pathway support and international applications from IMGs are welcome. The role is designed for a dedicated and skilled doctor looking to advance their career within a supportive and progressive environment. This position is ideal for those who are passionate about providing top-tier stroke care and are eager to contribute to the continuous improvement of healthcare services.

What is the NHS Trust like?

The NHS Trust, formed from a merger in 1998, is the largest provider of acute hospital services to residents in its region. Serving a population of over 410,000 people, the Trust employs around 4,200 staff across multiple hospital sites. Known for its high-quality patient care and commitment to staff development, the Trust has consistently received positive ratings from healthcare regulatory bodies. With a strong emphasis on continuous improvement and innovation, the Trust is a forward-thinking organization that values the contributions of its staff and invests in their ongoing professional growth.

What is the Department & Team like?

The stroke service at the hospital includes a Hyper-acute Stroke Unit and Acute Stroke Unit, with additional support from early supported discharge services and a neurorehabilitation ward. The team consists of dedicated consultants, trust-grade doctors, and stroke specialist nurses. The department participates in an integrated stroke delivery network, ensuring a collaborative approach to stroke care across the region. The Stroke Medicine Department prides itself on its multidisciplinary approach, working closely with various therapists to provide comprehensive care for stroke patients. The team is actively involved in clinical research and quality improvement initiatives, striving to implement the latest evidence-based practices and enhance patient outcomes.

Continued Professional Development

This NHS job offers further training & accreditation within stroke medicine, including CESR Portfolio Pathway Support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interest. Consultants are encouraged to participate in regular teaching sessions, workshops, and conferences to stay updated with the latest advancements in stroke care. Additionally, the Trust supports involvement in national and international research projects, providing opportunities for academic growth and contributions to the field of stroke medicine. The department fosters a culture of continuous learning and professional development, offering mentorship programs and structured career pathways to help consultants achieve their career goals and aspirations.

Life in South East

The location, situated in the heart of a beautiful region, is an ideal choice for international doctors and their families. Known for its picturesque countryside, the area offers a tranquil living environment with easy access to natural areas of beauty, such as hills and parks. The town boasts excellent schools, making it a great choice for families with children. It is well-connected with efficient transport links to major cities and airports, ensuring convenience for both personal and professional travel. The area is also rich in cultural diversity, offering a welcoming community with various recreational activities, restaurants, and shops to explore. With its blend of rural charm and urban amenities, the location provides a high quality of life for healthcare professionals and their families.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Stroke Medicine

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in Stroke Medicine
  • European Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCP UK 
  • Experience in Stroke Medicine
     
51,000  - 131,964

An excellent NHS job opportunity for an experienced Stroke Consultant or Specialty Doctor to join this NHS Trust as a Consultant working in an established stroke medicine department in the UK. This NHS job offers CESR Portfolio Pathway support and international applications from IMGs are welcome. This position is designed for a dedicated and skilled doctor who is eager to advance their career within a supportive and progressive environment. The role offers the chance to work with a team of experienced professionals committed to delivering high-quality stroke care. If you are passionate about making a difference in the field of stroke medicine and are looking for a new challenge, this is the perfect opportunity for you to enhance your skills and contribute to the continuous improvement of healthcare services.

What is the NHS Trust like?

This NHS Trust is one of the largest and most respected trusts in the region, providing high-quality healthcare services to a population of over 900,000 people across multiple counties. The trust operates several major hospitals, each equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and services. With a strong commitment to clinical excellence and innovation, the trust has made significant investments in upgrading and expanding its services, including a major upgrade to its maternity unit and the establishment of a new Emergency Assessment Centre. Known for its dedication to patient care and staff development, the trust fosters a culture of compassion, teamwork, and continuous improvement, making it an excellent place for medical professionals to work and grow.

What is the department & team like?

The Stroke Medicine team at this NHS Trust includes a Hyper Acute Stroke Unit (HASU) and an Acute Stroke Unit (ASU), ensuring that patients receive the best possible care. The department is staffed by a multidisciplinary team of consultants, trust-grade doctors, stroke nurse consultants, stroke nurse specialists, clinical neuropsychologists, and stroke therapists. The team works collaboratively with neurology, neuroradiology, and vascular surgery departments through regular meetings, ensuring a comprehensive and coordinated approach to stroke care. The department is actively involved in clinical research and quality improvement initiatives, continuously striving to implement the latest evidence-based practices and improve patient outcomes. This is a dynamic and supportive environment where professionals can thrive and make a real difference in stroke care.

Continued Professional Development

This NHS job offers further training and accreditation within stroke medicine, including CESR Portfolio Pathway support, access to specialty training, and the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interests. The trust is dedicated to the continuous professional development of its staff, offering numerous opportunities for education, research, and leadership training. Consultants are encouraged to participate in teaching sessions, workshops, and conferences to stay abreast of the latest advancements in stroke care. Additionally, the trust supports involvement in national and international research projects, providing avenues for academic growth and contributions to the field of stroke medicine. With a focus on career development, the department offers structured pathways and mentorship programs to help consultants achieve their professional goals and advance their careers.

Life in South East

The area around this NHS Trust is ideal for international doctors and their families, offering a high quality of life with a blend of rural charm and urban amenities. Known for its excellent schools, safe neighborhoods, and diverse community, it provides a welcoming environment for families. The region features beautiful parks and recreational facilities, perfect for outdoor activities and relaxation. Additionally, it boasts a variety of cultural amenities, including restaurants, shops, and community events. With efficient transport links to major cities and airports, the area ensures convenient access for both personal and professional travel. This region offers an attractive lifestyle and supportive community, making it an excellent choice for healthcare professionals and their families.

Am I eligible for this role?

UK based candidates:

  • Experience in Stroke Medicine

EEA candidates: 

  • Experience in Stroke Medicine
  • European Specialist Qualification

Non-EEA candidates:

  • MRCP
  • Experience in Stroke Medicine

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