Post-graduation Pathways in the UK for IMGs

post graduation in the UK

Where do I start post graduation in the UK?
How different is it compared to my country?
How long will it take to complete my training?

Post-graduation is a long and diverse road for a doctor. It’s a lot to think about after you’ve finished your Primary Medical Qualification. The lack of knowledge about the whole path ahead of you may land you in a situation where you tell yourself you could’ve done it differently.

Let’s get to the point.

I will try to discuss about the post-graduation options and different training structures in the UK, and also mention that of other countries like the USA, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan in another post, post-graduation in home & abroad.

Disclaimer: The information obtained here is from different articles, books, and some personal experience. If there is any mistake or misinformation, our apologies. We would really appreciate it if you wouldcontact us so that we can amend as needed.

Career progression in the UK

First of all, to have an understanding as to where can an IMG start, the overall knowledge about the training structure and the hierarchy of doctors in the UK is very important. Please have a look here first, Specialty (or GP) Training in the UK. The terminologies are used here assuming you know them from the above post.

Stages of transition to the UK

Now, let’s think about at what stages in an International Medical Graduate’s (IMG) career may this transition to the UK may happen.

  1. Fresh Graduates, didn’t finish internship
  2. Fresh Graduates, just finished internship
  3. Worked for 2-3 years after internship
  4. Worked for longer than that
  5. Registered as specialist/GP somewhere else than UK
  6. Long clinical gap after graduation and internship

I will explain the situations separately in sections by sections. Don’t get confused by what’s mentioned in other sections as that may not be applicable to your case.

Fresh Graduates

This stage is the most ideal for making your transition to the UK as a doctor as it’s easier at this stage to start from the bottom and work your way up in the UK healthcare system.

Completed the acceptable pattern of internship

If you have completed an acceptable pattern of internship, then the primary target for you is to obtain Full GMC registration, which will enable you to work as a doctor in the UK and start a NON-TRAINING JOB firstly. To obtain that you will have to take the PLAB exam and it’s prerequisites.

fresh graduate pathway

To start the preliminary planning please have a look here, how to plan for PLAB 1 and IELTS.

Have NOT completed an acceptable pattern of internship

It’s highly suggested that you complete an acceptable pattern of internship and then attempt for GMC registration if you have time to do so.

Please look here to find out more about acceptable pattern of internship and how it is related to full GMC registration, Internship & UKFPO

If you can’t at all, then you can try for foundation training under UKFPO (which is internship training for the UK graduates) which might be difficult for an IMG to get into.

Worked for 2-3 years after Internship

Your entry into the system is also just as the same as a fresh graduate i.e. clearing the PLAB exams, getting the GMC registration and all, BUT you have an advantage as you’ve worked in your country under full registration (of your country). You can have the foundation competencies signed off from your supervising consultants who you may have worked under for continuous 3 months or more. This form will enable you to apply for training or standalone training (LAT) posts.

To know more about foundation competencies please have a look here, Oriel alternative certificate of foundation competence. Read the guide and the documents in the resource bank carefully.

IMG pathway

Even though if your foundation competencies are accepted, it is highly recommended to start with a non-training job first or LAT, not directly apply for Core / Specialty Training (CT1/ST1). An orientation to the UK health care system is necessary in order to progress better prior to commencement in the core/specialty training.

Worked for a long time outside UK

It can be a bit difficult to start from the bottom i.e. being a junior doctor again in your case. But, I suggest if you can do that, it will bear fruit later on and also your experience will reflect on your salary, so don’t worry about getting that underpaid.

PG Qualification Pathway

That being said, the pathway can broaden for you a bit. You can take the PLAB > GMC registration > Non-training job pathway, also you can consider taking the MRCP/MRCS pathway.

The membership and fellowship of royal colleges are approved postgraduate qualifications. And if you have any you won’t need to take PLAB for GMC registration. But other prerequisites still holds, like IELTS/OET or getting your PMQ verified by EPIC. Have a look here to know the GMC Approved Postgraduate Qualifications from UK as well as different countries.

MTI Pathway

Another route many are interested in knowing about is the Medical Training Initiative (MTI). MTI will not allow you to settle in the UK nor will it count towards your 5 year duration for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), but you can apply for a job and switch to a TIER 2 working visa from a TIER 5 visa for MTI. MTI is not suggested if you wish to work in the UK, but rather as a stepping stone for your own training back home.

Look here further for details as to how to make an application for GMC registration with an approved post-grduate qualification. 

IMG PLAB and MRCP pathway

To understand the comparison between PLAB and MRCP, please have a look here in this post, PLAB vs MRCP vs USMLE

Registered Specialist/GP or trainee in non-UK countries

If you have obtained specialist degree/in the training in your country, there is a pathway for you to apply to get into GMC’s specialist register. It is called CESR / CEGPR (Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist or GP Registration) pathway.

There can be a lot of pitfalls and delays. The paperwork can be enormous and very time consuming. You won’t be able to get enough clinical experience or you may be restricted to work under one trust all along your career. So, this pathway is not recommended but if you have support you can go for it.

Long clinical gaps after graduation or internship

First things first, don’t lose hope.

Will I get GMC registered with this long clinical gap?

It is a very common question whether GMC registration will be a problem for doctors with long clinical gaps. But, take a step back and ask yourself, have you not faced clinical problems and scenarios in your PLAB exams? Yes, I did and I passed them. That is where GMC’s concern ended when you are taking the PLAB route.

Surely, they will want details of your past professional experience. If you were not involved clinically, state whatever you were doing, it can be you were involved in a teaching job, or worked on your studies and post-graduate exams, or just took care of your family. It has been known that many doctors got FULL GMC registered just fine without any hassle with long clinical gaps after passing the PLAB exams.

You can have a look here to find out what evidences are needed for GMC registration application.

Will it be difficult getting a job?

That is very variable from person to person, as how you present yourself in NHS jobs profile plays a vital role in getting a call back for interview. But, yeah, it might get difficult for doctors without recent exposure to clinical scene to get a job in the NHS right away. That is why I would suggest making an effort to get into a clinical attachment, if possible. The general approach is to reach consultants first then HR to arrange for a duration of clinical attachment, it may vary from hospital to hospital.

Or you can do some basic courses like BLS / CPR training which will also help you get an edge in your job application. You can find here, Approved CPR training course by Resus UK.

Here is the complete diagram of the entire pathway leading to GP/Consultant in your career as a doctor in the UK.

UK career

To see in full resolution, click here.

Hope, I have covered all the entry routes for doctors in the UK in this post.

Good luck to you all!


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