Entry Routes for Medical Practice in the UK

UK and EEA graduates can find employment in the UK without passing any further exams, as their qualifications are recognised in the UK. Therefore this post only concerns Non-UK/EEA International Medical Graduates who wish to pursue a career in the UK.

There are many different pathways for IMGs to enter the UK’s system. These can be distributed into two main categories and further sub-categories:

 

1. Through Licencing Exams

  • A) PLAB
  • B) MRCP

 

2. Without Passing Licencing Exams

  • A) For Trainees
    i) Medical Training Initiative
    .
  • B) For Specialists
    i) Acceptable Post Graduate Qualifications
    ii) Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration
    .
  • C) For Both
    i) Sponsorship Programs

 

1. Through Licencing Exams

 

A) PLAB

PLAB is the licencing exam for International Medical Graduates wishing to practice in the UK. PLAB has two parts, PLAB 1 and PLAB 2. Once you’ve passed your PLAB 2 exam, you can get GMC registration to become eligible to work in the UK as a doctor.

You can check my post Road Map for PLAB to understand the pathway for PLAB.

 

B) MRCP

MRCP is a specialty exam, which a candidate needs to pass before they can enter specialty training for medicine in the UK. Once they have passed MRCP 1, MRCP 2, PACES and IELTS, they’re eligible to apply for GMC registration on the basis of MRCP. After GMC registration, they are allowed to work in the UK as a doctor.

My post PLAB vs MRCP might give you an idea of the MRCP pathway.

 

2. Without Passing Licencing Exams

 

A) For Trainees

i) Medical Training Initiative

Through this pathway, doctors who are training in their home country can apply for training in different specialties in the UK for a short period of time and then return back to their home country to complete their training. This pathway is ideal for doctors who wish to gain UK experience for a short time and then return back home.

Please click here to get more details about the program. Please also check Dr. Omar Alam’s post which discusses MTI, among other topics.

 

B) For Specialists

i) Acceptable Postgraduate Qualifications

You can go through GMC’s list of acceptable postgraduate qualifications to see if you can work in the UK on the basis of your qualifications.

From Pakistan, this list includes FCPS in Paediatrics and Fellowship in Anaesthesiology. Which means that if you have these qualifications, you do not need to pass PLAB, MRCP or any other exam to work in the UK. You will still need to pass IELTS before GMC registration.

 

ii) Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR)

If you are registered in any country as a specialist with a licence to practice, you can apply for Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration or CESR. This pathway was previously known as Article 14. This route will allow you to work in the UK as a specialist.

The following links might help:

A. GMC’s about CESR page.

B. GMC’s guidance page for doctors wishing to apply through the CESR pathway.

C. GMC’s CESR application process page.

 

C) For Both

i) Sponsorship Programs

Several University departments in the UK operate sponsorship schemes for GMC registrations. These schemes are for doctors wishing to undertake a postgraduate degree or research project with the University. Please contact the relevant academic heads of the departments and they will be able to advise you if they are approved sponsors for the purposes of GMC registration.

You can find more information about this from the official GMC website link here.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

.

1. For how long would I be allowed to train in the UK on the basis of Medical Training Initiative?

This can vary, depending on which country you are applying from. For people applying from Pakistan, MTI is usually a two-year program. You can always contact them at mti@rcplondon.ac.uk to ask your questions.

73 thoughts on “Entry Routes for Medical Practice in the UK”

  1. morning Naseer ! I was wondering if you could tell us of the various types of visas for the FY2 and the following years and how is the process regarding visas

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  2. Good morning , I am a doctors (doing my speciality in embryology and genetics .I was wondering what s the best bathawy for me to practice in UK ,my work is essentially in laboratory ,is it possible to work in UK???

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  3. I’m Dr. Adnan. Currently I have taken break from job for preparing and appearing for MRCP PACES EXAM. Exam in July 2017. Can you guide about visa process?

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  4. Thank you so much. I’ve a query that as i’m not doing job and have taken off for MRCP PACES exam.I saved money for this exam which i earned from my previous job. Also I’ve to return back after this exam because exam is my only priority so how to make my application strong to avoid visa rejection.

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  5. I am trying to start UK journey through MTI but no posts are available for this category specially in internal medicine so how can we access this route

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      1. I am not sure about MRCOG 1. But I can tell you that PLAB is exempted if we pass all three parts of MRCP or both parts of MRCS. PLAB is not exempted by passing only MRCP 1 or MRCS 1. So I assume that the same rules apply to MRCOG and MRCOG 1. But you should get this confirmed by checking the official websites or posting on Facebook groups. I am sorry for not being more knowledgable about this.

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  6. Good morning Dr
    i want to ask you can v do plab 1 widout ny clinical experience after graduation (in my case i was graduated in 2014)

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  7. You are doing a great job.
    I think you can make your blog more useful if you could get more plabbers to contribute.
    Thanks.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments. I have included experiences from other doctors who have recently taken PLAB. But I will consider your advice. Thank you! 🙂

      Like

  8. Hi
    i am a pathologist from India. My question is regarding CESR. I dont have any logbooks from my residency. I hope to join a training position in the UK.
    Do you think evidence from my job after MD and training in UK be enough?

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    1. Training in the UK will help for sure. But if you will take a training job in the UK, you will not need CESR. If you were talking about non-training jobs in the UK, they can help as well. But CESR takes a lot of time and there is no guarantee that things will not change 5 or 10 years from now. So keep all of this in mind before making a decision.

      I am not sure if your job in your home country after your MD would help or not.

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      1. So if i get a 6 to 12 month clinical fellowship in histopathology, i dont need to go through CESR?

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  9. A post as a senior clinical fellow in histopathology ( for a duration of 6 to 12 months) is considered as a training position, isnt it? I hoped to join some short training courses like such, and not the whole 5 year speciality training.
    If I do join such a position, I’d still have to go through CESR to be registered as a specialist and ultimately work as a consultant, right?

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    1. A senior clinical fellow is not a training post. Also, there are no training posts for 6 to 12 months, as far as I know. Training is usually for years and not months.

      To become a consultant you must go through training or have enough experience to be considered equal to a consultant, so that you may apply for CESR pathway.

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  10. I m not a trainee i have done Mrcp 1 preparing for mrcp 2 i have heard there r some jobs u can do after passing mrcp 1 is it true also if u cleared part 1 mrcp r u exempted from plab 1 and can give plab 2?

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  11. Hi, I noticed You did not mention the ‘EC Rights’ option. I just graduated from a Europian University but am a 3rd country national. My husband is a British Citizen who is working in the UK as a Doctor. Would You advise I write PLAB or use the EC Rights pathway?

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  12. Hello, I’m a Dentist. I’ve gone through your blog and most of the info seem to be tailored to medical practitioners and not to Dentists intending to work in the UK.

    My questions:
    – Are the procedures same or different for medical and dental practitioners?
    – what help can you offer me – a Dentist seeking to work in the UK?
    Thanks.

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  13. Hello! U are doing great job. I have completed my MRCP and wanna get registered with GMC. But I had a break from clinical practice. Does GMC mind career breaks? Can I face any problem with registration?

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    1. Congratulations on passing your MRCP! 😊

      The GMC does not mind gaps. But the GMC does ask for explanation of gaps, even if the gap is for a single day. The longer the gap, the more detailed the explanation might be. They want to see that the doctor was serious about their career.

      Thank you for your kind words! And thank you for visiting the blog! 🙂

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  14. Thanks Dr. Naseer, pls my question is regarding job opportunities in UK viz-a-viz year of graduation. Graduated 2003, been working as a career MO with my current employer since 2007 in Accident & Emergency. Have no gaps in practice since house job in 2003/2004 up till now. Should I be concerned about my job prospects? If so, any suggestions on what to do or start doing to upp the game? Wud like to know now cos spending a lot of money on this plab journey, one shud know what his chances are. Am post PLAB 1 going for PLAB 2 in Sept. Thanks lots!

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    1. Year of graduation does not matter in the UK. Everyone does find a non-training job.

      When it comes to a training job, it depends on which specialty you wish to apply for. Getting a training job in Medicine, GP ST, A&E, Paediatrics, Psychiatry and other non-surgical fields is very easy.

      Getting into any Surgical field or Surgical sub-specialty might not be so easy.

      Another thing that you should know is the 18-month rule. A lot of specialties have this rule that if you have worked for 18 months or more in that specialty, you’re considered overqualified and, therefore, ineligible to apply for training in that field (this rule was abolished for Core Medical Training this year due to shortage of doctors).

      Kindly check the following post to see how your CV can be improved. Even though the post is for undergraduates, the same rules apply for everyone.

      All the best! 🙂

      https://naseersjourney.com/2017/05/13/guidance-for-undergraduates/

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  15. Hi Naseer, thanks a lot for this blog. You’re doing a wonderful job. One quick question please. I’m about starting a 5 year specialty program in Trauma and orthopaedics home. I plan to take MRCS concurrently. Will do these 2 guarantee me a job position in the UK?

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  16. Hello Dr. Naseer,
    Please could you let me know, if I want to attend MRCP do I have to have an acceptable pattern of internship?

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  17. Assalaam alaikum Dr Naseer

    I was wondering – would you know anything about Irish exams? Like the MRCPI?
    Thanks for all the help you provide through your blogs, God bless you.

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      1. Thanks! I’m trying to decide between the MRCP and MRCPi and saw that the latter held itself to quite a high standard – their irish part 1 can only be exempted if you’ve qualified completely from some other board (American board of medicine and peds, arab board, pakistani FCPS) but their requirement to sit the MRCPi is only that you’ve had 18 months since your graduation. Which I found odd. Anyhow, thank you for responding!

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Hey there , i have completed my 1 year housejob from pakistan 3 months bavk and bow preparing for plab . I wanted to ask how much time is taken by GMC registration ? And after registration we have to arrange oir own visa for residency or the hospital in which we are are working provides us the visa ??

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  19. السلام عليكم
    Dear Dr Naseer,
    I’m a general surgery resident from Jordan. I’m not happy with the situation in my country and my initial plan was going to Australia, but I later switched to the UK (done with PLAB 1 so far) for the following reasons:
    1- Tests are a lot cheaper.
    2- PLAB is accepted for registration purposes in Australia (and the rest of the commonwealth) after a year of experience in the UK through the “competitive authority” pathway whereas the opposite isn’t true.
    3- Everything I can find on the internet either says there are ZERO job offers in Australia or that you can eventually (at best) get into either GP or Emergency Medicine residency programs ONLY, while my plan is to get into orthopaedics or general surgery.

    My question is about how easy would it be to get accepted into a residency program in orthopaedics or general surgery in the UK? Is it as impossible as it seems to be in Aussie?
    Thank you,

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  20. Thanks, Sir… I did look at that before (Several University departments in the UK operate sponsorship schemes for GMC registrations) and guess all are just medicine. I have a work experience in dermatology and did distance learning from Australia (i know its not accredited in the UK) and i did master by research in the UK (not in dermatology as was academic work) and wanted from u a precise direction for my case kindly. I really appreciate ur kind time.

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  21. Recently many docs going to Germany for training as getting into surgical program is comparatively easier…I m also planning to go there…once I complete my residency from Germany( I am Nepali though) can I work in UK without any further training or exams in UK??? Which one do u suggest me UK or Germany as u r in UK and u know it very well??

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  22. hello Dr.naseer i am a 5th year medical student from Jordan, interested in surgical training in the UK. i have a few questions , the first is: what’s the reality of getting a surgical residency in the UK , i mean what are my chances of getting one , because i hear u say nothing is impossible with hard work , but does this mean that its very rare ? or it just needs more work to get it done like working on your CV like the things you talked about in the videos ?, is it easier than getting surgical residency in USA for example ? , the second question , can i bypass the core training if i do the mrcs and go directly into residency or st3 in surgical fields ? and again what are the chances of getting the surgical position within one year if i work in a non-training job.
    also is there any advantages or disadvantages in this route ( mrcs) or going through plab > core training then st3? like which is easier to get a training position with ?.

    Thank you so much ! you made my life 11312414 times easier with your videos and this blog before , i couldn’t understand anything about the system.

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    1. It’s difficult to get surgical training in the UK. It can take time and a lot of effort. Please check Dr.Omar Alam’s guideline about this.

      omarsguidelines.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/my-guideline-for-surgical-training-in-uk.html

      It’s very difficult to pass MRCS without UK experience. It is very difficult to find surgical training at ST3 without UK experience. It would probably take you more than a year at a non-training post to find surgical training.

      PLAB is easier definitely, takes less time and if you go through CST, you can apply for ST3 in round 1.

      Thank you for your kind words! 🙂

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  23. Hello Dr. Khan

    I will graduate in few months from Italy, however, I am not a UK/EU residence.
    Am I exempt from further exams (treated as any other EEA students)?

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  24. Hello Dr. Naseer!
    At the outset, I would like to thank you for the wonderful blog.
    I’m a doctor from India. I graduated in March 2017 ( including 1 year internship) and haven’t worked since. How easy/ difficult will getting a non training job be considering my lack of clinical experience?
    Also, if I do get a job, is it always possible to get F2 competency signed off, or do I need to apply for training posts once I’m done with one year of experience in the UK?
    I think my question is rather redundant, but I’m still not clear about it. I would really appreciate it if you could help!
    Thank you 🙂

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    1. It will be challenging since you have never worked as a doctor. It would be best to discuss this with someone who’s been through the same to get a better idea. You can post this on Facebook groups.

      You can get FY2 competencies signed as a non-trainee.

      Like

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