An International Medical Student’s Journey from Europe
Hi, I am Siddharth Sunil, a final year medical student at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. I joined the University back in September 2016 and am about to graduate as a medical doctor in a few months. I am originally from India and resided there until I started medical school in Prague. I aspire to work for the NHS in the UK upon graduation. In this blog I will be discussing the main steps and formalities I will have to undertake and plan on doing, to secure a job in the NHS in order to simplify it for the readers who will be graduating from a European Union University and plan on working for the NHS as well.
Why did I choose the UK?
I made the decision to apply to work in the UK during my 3rd year of study in medical school. The main reasons were England having people from all over the world and having a diverse culture, much easier and cheaper to get into a training job and also because I’ve wanted to reside in an English-speaking country. NHS being such a respected medical system all over the world also was a huge reason.
Read my blog on 10 reasons to work as a Doctor in the UK
Getting Medical Degree
The most apparent step is graduating from Medical School without which you cannot apply for GMC. You must have passed your medical school exams. Moreover, you must hold an acceptable Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ). An acceptable Primary Medical Qualification is a PMQ that meets all necessary criteria for the purpose of registration with a license to practice medicine in the UK. You will need to check whether your qualification is acceptable before you start the application with the GMC. Read more here.
This will make you eligible for full GMC registration. In order to get full GMC registration, you must have an acceptable internship and experience. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the GMC internship criteria and the documents you will need to submit with your application for full GMC registration.
IMGs graduating from the European Union University will likely have completed this before graduating as the curriculum is mostly the same and also considering that the internship is accepted by the GMC. If not, you will be eligible for provisional registration and will have to complete Foundation Year 1 after which you can attain a full registration. Read more about GMC registration for doctors with an EEA or Swiss Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ)
Passing an English proficiency test i.e. either IELTS or OET is necessary to work in the UK as English is the medium of communication everywhere including hospitals. The required score for IELTS is 7.5 overall (minimum 7.0 in all modules). OET requirement is B in all four sub-sets and overall. In both cases, the most recent test results will be taken into account. OET and IELTS certificates are valid for 2 years upon passing and your application for GMC registration should be submitted before they expire. This step can be completed before graduation also considering it doesn’t expire by the time you submit your application. Read more here and on official IELTS and OET websites.
This is the process of verification of your Medical Degree done by the Electric Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC). It must be completed before you apply for GMC registration, and it doesn’t expire. For this, you must make an online EPIC account on their website and submit the required documents. Read more about EPIC verification.
Do I have to give PLAB?
If you have graduated from a university outside of the UK, European Union, or Switzerland, you will probably have to write the PLAB exam. This will be the norm until about early 2024 when the UKMLA will be introduced and all medical graduates, including UK graduates, wishing to practice in the UK will need to sit the test. Hence, as of now until UKMLA is introduced, IMGs from the UK, European Union and Switzerland don’t need to write the PLAB. Read more about the PLAB exams and also how to pass PLAB 1 and PLAB 2 exams the first time.
Applying for GMC registration
This application is online-based. If you have completed the required internship and recognized primary medical qualification, you are eligible for a full GMC registration and if not, in that case, you are eligible for provisional registration. This step requires a lot of paperwork and make sure to start early and have all the requirements and evidence in hand to apply for the registration. You can apply for registration on the official GMC website. You can also check if you are eligible for a Provisional Registration or Full Registration on the GMC website.
Securing a job in the NHS
Job searching and application is also done online. NHS jobs website is the biggest hub for job adverts. For IMGs, Foundation Year jobs are suggested as it helps them get accustomed to the NHS medical system. When the application rounds open, you can look for training jobs of your respective level via Oriel.
The type of visa depends on whether you have secured a job while entering the UK or not. If you have secured a job you can apply for a Tier 2 visa, if not, you will have to visit the UK on a Standard Visitor visa and then do job searching. The application for Tier 2 Visa is very straightforward and not as tedious as the previous steps.
References and further reading
Final Year Medical Student