Let us compare working in the UK vs working in the USA for junior doctors.
1. Entry into the System
As I mentioned in my article PLAB vs USMLE, it is very easy to pass PLAB and enter the UK’s healthcare system for doctors. However, passing USMLE requires a lot of hard work, serious dedication, a lot of time, money, energy and patience. Also, keep in mind that there are pathways other than PLAB for entering the UK’s system.
The UK: very easy to enter the system.
The USA: requires hard work and serious dedication.
2. Entry into Training
Our first job in the USA is always a training job; our first job in the UK is almost never a training job. In the UK, we have to work at a non-training post for a few months before we can find a training post. Most doctors in the UK find a training job within a year (or two) after they start working in the UK.
The UK: first job is a non-training job.
The USA: direct entry into training.
3. Training Quality
The US arguably has better training than the UK. There are no facts to back this up.
The UK: great training.
The USA: arguably the best training.
4. Training Duration
Training duration varies widely in both the countries.
The UK: 3 years (GP ST) to 8 years (Medicine and Surgery).
The USA: 3 years (Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics) to 5 years (Surgery) to 8 years (Neurosurgery).
5. Working Hours
Junior doctors in the USA work twice as much per week as they do in the UK.
The UK 40 to 48 hours per week.
The USA 80 to 110 hours per week.
6. Starting Salary
Starting salary in the UK and the USA is almost the same.
The UK: £2,700 ($3,500)
The USA: $3,200 (£2,500)
This is the take-home pay, after tax-deduction.
(The above values are only reference ranges and actual starting salary might vary 5 to 10 percent).
7. Consultants’ Salary
Consultants in the USA earn roughly the double as compared to consultants in the UK.
The UK: £75,000 – £100,000
The USA: $150,000 – $400,000
This is the take-home pay, after tax-deduction.
(The above values are only reference ranges and actual salary might vary).
8. A Welfare State
A welfare state looks after its people; among other things it provides free healthcare and education to everyone.
The UK: a welfare state.
The USA: not a welfare state.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I work in the UK or should I work in the USA?
This is a personal choice based on individual circumstances. However, the above-mentioned information might help you in making your decision.
2. If the road to the UK is so easy, why do most doctors prefer the USA over the UK?
Choosing where you want to work is a personal decision. However, most people choose the USA over the UK for the following reasons:
- Lack of awareness about the UK pathway
- The USA looks more attractive
- Better pay for consultants in the USA
- Arguably better training in the USA
- Direct entry into training in the USA
- Shorter training duration in the USA
3. If the USA has so many benefits, why should I work in the UK?
Again, choosing where you want to work is a personal decision. However, I and most of my friends chose the UK for the following reasons:
- PLAB is an easy exam to pass.
- PLAB takes less time, effort and money.
- Easy entry into the system.
- Training is easy to find.
- One of the best training systems in the world.
- Working hours are very easy.
- Starting salary is the same as the UK.
- The UK is a welfare state.
4. How much pay is enough in the UK?
It depends on your lifestyle and it depends on where you are living. For example, big cities like London and Manchester are more expensive than small towns like Blackpool. But the following might give you a general idea:
£1,900/month is more than enough for a single person and just enough for a couple.
£2,700/month would be more than enough for a couple.
5. Would I be able to save money in the UK?
Again, that depends on your lifestyle and the area where you choose to live. And, of course, it depends on your salary. It also depends on you being single or living with a spouse.
I’ve seen people with £2,700/month, save £1,000/month for a whole year and I have seen people with £1,900/month not save anything for a year. So it depends on each individual and how they live.
6. How much tax would I have to pay in the UK?
The numbers mentioned in this article are exclusive of tax. These are the take-home salaries, after tax deduction. Junior doctors in the UK have to pay around 20% to 25% tax in the UK. Considering the fact that the UK is a welfare state (health and education are free in the UK), 20% to 25% taxation feels completely justified. To learn more about pay scales and taxation in the UK, you can click here.
7. What is the difference between a training and a non-training job?
A training job is one in which there is career progression. In a non-training job, there is no career progression. Our internship (also known as House Job in Pakistan) and specialty training jobs (also knows as Residency in Pakistan) are training jobs.