At present, there are many different pathways for doctors from all over the world to find employment in the UK. However, a recent poll of patients found that most patients would feel comfortable if there was a single assessment for all doctors working in the UK.
Based on the above information, the GMC has approved plans to create a new licensing exam, United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA). The UKMLA will replace the PLAB exam. All the doctors who wish to practice in the UK, including the international medical graduates and the UK medical graduates (with a few possible exceptions), will have to take the UKMLA.
The process of implementing the UKMLA was under consultation until 30 April 2017. The decisions regarding next steps for the UKMLA will be made public on 31 December 2017. You can keep an eye on the latest developments regarding the UKMLA if you follow the news centre on the GMC website.
Timeline for Implementation of the UKMLA
The consultation page and document mention that there would be rounds of piloting for the UKMLA before making it live for IMGs and the UK graduates in 2022.
Who Will Need to Take the UKMLA
- UK graduates.
- EEA graduates.
- Non-UK/EEA graduates.
Exemptions to the UKMLA
It is entirely possible that not everyone might have to take the UKMLA. This is what the GMC has to say about the exemptions,
“We have no wish to erect unnecessary barriers to good doctors coming to practise in the UK, particularly given the current shortages in some specialties. We will review the current exemptions and consult separately on this issue before introducing the MLA.”
Source: Page 26 The UKMLA consultation document.
Eligibility Requirements for the UKMLA
These are unclear at the moment.
Eligibility Requirements for GMC Registration
After the UKMLA is introduced, these will be the eligibility requirements for GMC registration:
- Primary Medical Qualification (MBBS or MBChB).
- Knowledge of the English language (only for IMGs).
- The UKMLA.
The Cost of the Exam
The cost of the exam is also unclear. However, it is proposed that the overseas candidates pay the exam fee, while the cost for UK candidates would be met by the GMC and by the medical schools.
The Format of UKMLA
Just like PLAB, the UKMLA is expected to have two parts:
- Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs).
- Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).
This is also unclear at the moment.
The GMC is considering the idea of including PLAB 1 and 2 question banks in the UKMLA.
The UKMLA Part 1 – UK Venue
Each medical school in the UK is expected to hold the test as a part of their final exams.
The UKMLA Part 1 – Overseas Venue
This is unclear at the moment.
The UKMLA Part 2 – UK Venue
Two options are being considered at the moment:
- Delivering the test at each UK university.
- Delivering the test at a limited number centres across the UK.
The GMC has ruled out a third option of one clinical assessment centre for everyone.
The UKMLA Part 2 – Overseas Venue
The UKMLA Part 2 is not expected to be held overseas.
The major source of information for this post was the GMC’s consultation document regarding the UKMLA.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. When will the UKMLA start?
As explained above, it is expected to begin from 2022.
2. Will I have to take the UKMLA?
It depends on when you graduate and when the GMC decides to implement the UKMLA for IMGs. It’s best to keep an eye on the news for latest developments.
3. Would the UKMLA Part 1 be a part of the UK medical school final exams or would the UK medical students have to take a separate UKMLA exam?
“We envisage that UK medical students would take the MLA test of clinical and professional skills as part of their university finals.”
Source: Page 14 of The UKMLA consultation document.
4. Would the UKMLA Part 2 be a part of the UK medical school final exams or would the UK medical students have to take a separate UKMLA exam?
“We could consider whether it would be appropriate for some universities to embed the MLA stations in their own OSCEs, and for others to provide separate OSCEs for the MLA stations.”
Source: Page 15 of The UKMLA consultation document.
5. Will the UKMLA be of the same difficulty level as PLAB?
There is no way of knowing that before time. But the GMC is considering the idea of including PLAB’s question banks in the UKMLA. This is a good sign because the PLAB test is very easy.
6. If the UKMLA is implemented after I have passed PLAB 1 and before I have passed PLAB 2, will I need to take the UKMLA?
You might have to appear in part 2 of the UKMLA, but this is unclear at the moment, as there is not enough information available. The GMC will make this clear well before time.