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The process to apply for jobs in the NHS as an international medical graduate may seem like a big ask, but once you understand what needs to be provided and how you should structure your job application, it becomes considerably easier. This article will help you figure out how to do just that.
Where do I apply for jobs in the NHS?
Should I contact any recruiting agency?
What is the NHS?
National Health Services (NHS)
The UK healthcare system, National Health Service (NHS), came into existence in the aftermath of the Second World War and became operational on the 5th July 1948. Health care and health policy for England is the responsibility of the central government, whereas in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland it is the responsibility of the respective devolved governments. In each of the UK countries the NHS has its own distinct structure and organization, but overall, and not dissimilarly to other health systems, healthcare comprises of two broad sections;
- one dealing with strategy, policy and management, and
- the other with actual medical/clinical care which is in turn divided into-primary (community care, GPs, Dentists, Pharmacists, etc.),
- secondary (hospital-based care accessed through GP referral) and
- tertiary care (specialist hospitals).
Increasingly distinctions between the two broad sections are becoming less clear.
That means whether you work in Northern Ireland or Scotland, that doesn't influence your chances of getting your later jobs or getting into training in the long run. It's all NHS.
Apart from fully govt-backed NHS, there are also private sectors, private medical insurance providers, consultant agencies who provide healthcare faster, flexible according to patient's choice (according to them), and obviously at a higher cost.
But, for a newly GMC registered doctor in the UK, the best place to start is working for the NHS. They are under-staffed and hiring a lot of doctors, and your future academic career and further training will all revolve around the NHS.
How to apply for a job in the NHS?
First of all, let me congratulate you on getting this far. Passing PLAB 2 and now applying for a job is a major achievement!
- Make a good CV
Everything being online, you may not have to send your CV to the employers, but if you take other means of a job application, like directly contacting the HR, contacting an agency, keeping a well-made CV ready helps you a lot. This CV can also help you by making your online job profiles. Please read through this post, creating your perfect CV, to spruce up your CV.
- Search on the NHS Jobs website
Step-by-step guidance on how to look for jobs in the NHS jobs website along with how to put together your profile is outlined below.
- Apply for as many jobs as you can
Search using all the keywords possible and apply for jobs. Don't try and think that you will have to meet ALL the essential criteria set in the person specifications, Just apply for it. Only two things can happen, you get called for an interview or you don't.
- Be patient
Everything good comes in time. It can definitely be stressful with all the things that could be going on concurrently, but give it at least 2-3 months after closing dates to really understand your situation. I'm sure you'll be flooded with invitations in no time.
NHS Jobs website
All the jobs available in the NHS are advertised here, in the NHS Jobs website. Let me remind you, NHS is not GMC. These are completely different bodies managing and working for doctors and patients on different dimensions.
Are you GMC Registered?
To apply for a job in the NHS as a doctor you need GMC registration with a license to practice. But all the applications have an option to choose “I’ve applied for registration” during the application i.e you can still apply for jobs even if you haven't obtained your GMC registration, or even when you haven't applied for that. Sounds untrue? It's not.
So when asked at the very beginning of a job application online, "Are you GMC registered?", You can safely say yes, as later on, you can choose your status to "I've applied for registration." But, it's true that having full GMC registration increases your chances of getting a job interview call, so get your registration done as soon as you have passed PLAB 2.
How to setup an NHS Jobs profile?
Firstly you'll have to make an account in the NHS Jobs website with your email. Then you go to “My profile” and start filling up your information. The information saved into your NHS jobs profile is used to populate the answers to most of the questions on a job application form when you choose to apply for a job. So making a good profile makes your life easy. Let’s start:
- First thing, your personal information. You name your address, your contact information, etc.
- Also in the personal information, your visa information is important to fill out, so that your employer knows whether they need to provide you with TIER 2 sponsorship.
- If you do not require a visa to be in the UK, simply state that in the details of any restrictions box. For example, you may write, 'UK visa not needed as am a holder of a Canadian passport'.
- If you are on a visit visa state that.
- If no visa, then choose "Other" and say that you would require a Tier 2 sponsorship for entry clearance.
- Fill up your educational qualifications and any training courses you've attended. Here’s where you'll have that option to choose your status of GMC registration. If you choose “I don't have any registration” they'll have a valid reason to put your application on the bottom. For all intents and purposes, when your employer will process this application, which will be months from now, “GMC registration… applied for” will be true.
- Then comes your Employment history. I also added my internship here. You fill it up accordingly, don't think that you'll have to fill each and every box here. Just fill in where you know the answer.
- Brief description of your duties and responsibilities is where you sell yourself. Go an extra mile describing all you did. You can take some tips from the "Medical Experience" heading from this post, creating the perfect CV.
- Talk about your employment gaps in the end. You can mention the time where you were maybe preparing for an exam and were not employed for that duration or any other reasons for your employment gap.
- Then comes the references. This is where you need prior preparation before setting up this profile. For any NHS jobs application, you will need information and contacts of THREE referees. It all says there whom you can put up as a referee. Remember, they will be communicated to put their references in the online system as a part of your pre-employment checks. So, remember to talk to them and make them aware of the situation and process.
- "Can the referee be approached prior to the interview?" - is the question you need to communicate with your referees first.
- Then comes a tough part where you will basically have to face a mini written interview. Your skills and experience and supporting information which includes:
- Declaration of practical experience.
- Prizes or academic distinction
- Your practical experience may include lumbar puncture, NG tube insertion, and feeding, catheterization, venipuncture, IV cannulation, etc. A log book/portfolio evidence may be necessary (I was never asked to show that during any of my interview) but I would advise getting a LOR mentioning your practical skills at least to be on the safe side if you don't have any log book or portfolio.
- Don't freak out thinking you don't have any of teaching, research, publication and that's why you won't get a job. It's not like that at all. You don't have any, you answer no to them.
- Also then you will have to write something about your-
- Management and leadership experience
- Team working
- Supporting information
Here's tip for writing any experience with an example. Follow the skeleton:
The situation- what happened,
The task that needed to be done – the challenge,
What you did- your action that proves the point,
The response- the outcome of your action.
- You can write one or two sentences in each section and elaborate on one or two examples in total.
Take some tips about these questions from this post, creating the perfect CV.
- Additional Personal Information: There are some questions as below which doesn't apply to IMGs who is applying for their very first job in the NHS. These can be answered with N/A.
- Please state who is your current responsible officer
- Please state the date of your last re-validation
- Please state the date of your last appraisal
- Some of these questions are also to be answered with a No if it doesn't apply to you.
- Are you currently on the General Medical Council’s Specialist Register, or due to obtain a relevant CCT/CESR(CP) within 6 months of interview
- Are you currently on the General Medical Council’s GP Register, or a GP Registrar within 3 months of anticipated CCT/CEGPR (or equivalent) at the time of interview?
- Are you included on this employer’s Regional Performers List, or do you have an expectation for inclusion within 3 months of the date of interview?
- Do you have current Section 12 (Mental Health Act England and Wales) Approval for working in this NHS region?
- Are you currently registered in this employer’s region as a ‘Responsible Clinician’?
- Have your Foundation Programme 1 competencies been formally signed off?
- If you have completed your internship, you can say yes. Equivalent internship has been completed and accepted by GMC.
- Have your Foundation Programme 2 competencies been formally signed off?
- If you haven't got the CREST form signed off by your home consultant, then say no.
- Monitoring information and more about your personal life, e.g. DOB, ethnicity, and religion, etc are not mandatory, but you can fill it out if you wish.
- The final page, safeguarding. To make you are safe to employ as a doctor. These are routine things to ask everyone for legal reasons.
It's done, finally.
This saved profile will fill up the answers to the questions in your actual application. Be aware that some application may have more questions you will have to answer, so read through all of the questions each time you apply.
How to find the right job advertisement?
You can search for jobs with any search string, title-wise, location wise or salary wise even. But remember to order the list as 'recent' first so that you know which adverts at the top are not going to close soon.
And in your chosen listing, you should look for 4 things:
- What specifically they are looking for.
- Closing date for the application
- Job description and Person Specification
If all 4 look satisfactory, you can apply for the job. If you aren't ready to just yet, you can always “Add to favorites” and it will be there in your favorites.
What level post should I apply for?
Depending on your experience and general comfort level in the department you're applying to, it can vary. There are 3 levels of doctors in the NHS:
- Junior grade
- Middle grade
- Consultant/Senior grade
Keeping this in mind, it's always better to start as a junior grade if you don't have any prior NHS experience, even if you're experienced back home or have completed a post graduate qualification. That doesn't mean you have to start at a junior grade, but the reason for this suggestion is so that you can get an idea of the work environment and healthcare system in the UK before being burdened with more responsibilities. You can always apply for a middle grade post after working as a junior grade for a few months.
The job advert titles for JUNIOR GRADE doctors are as follows. You should try any of the followings in the job search terms.
- Foundation year 1 (FY1)
- Foundation year 2 (FY2)
- CT LAS (CT 1/2)
- ST LAS (ST 1/2)
- Senior House Officer (SHO)
- Junior Clinical Fellow
- Clinical Fellow (CT/ST-1/2)
- Trust Doctors (FY2, CT/ST-1/2)
Do not worry about person specification so rigidly whether they ask for NHS experience. You can easily get a job at CT/ST 1-2 level even with just internship experience. Please refer to the following photo which clearly shows at what non-training level you can easily be employed.
Curious to know what you should ideally be paid? Check out A Doctor's Pay in the UK to find out!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I apply for jobs just after passing my PLAB 2?
Yes. And I suggest you do that. All the jobs advertised in the website has a closing date. It generally takes a month or so AFTER the closing date to start their interview process. You apply for jobs saying “GMC registration and licence to practice required and applied for”, which isn't false. By the time they start calling for your interviews, you'll have passed PLAB 2 and have applied for registration already.
Should I contact any private health care provider or any recruiting agency?
While we'd suggest trying your luck with the above mentioned routes first, often times you cannot find the exact job you want or you don't have time to sift through posts and apply. Another issue some have is that they require a job in a particular area, which can be difficult to search for on your own. Whatever you choose to do, just be certain of everything before committing. To find out more about our discussion of NHS jobs vs agencies, please check out our post on finding a job in the NHS.
What is TRAC jobs?
It's another platform for applying for NHS jobs, but it is basically more useful to the employers as they can process your application here, like setting up interview, links for references etc. You should open an account here too with the same email that you opened in NHS jobs. You can use the wonderful system of email alert of this trac system where you will get email alert every day for all jobs new and old, with your filters applied. You take the Job Reference No from the advert in trac and find the advert in NHS Jobs and apply from there, as you have put your efforts making a profile there.
Do I need a clinical attachment?
Clinical attachments are not mandatory before you apply for an NHS job. You can take one if you want to familiarize yourself with a new workplace setting or if you wish to observer different specialties, but it is not something you have to complete. If you're interested in pursuing an attachment, simply contact the hospital you are wanting to do the attachment in and complete the required paperwork. There is often an associated fee to complete an attachment, so keep that in mind.
Do I need IELTS/OET for NHS jobs?
You do not need to prove English Proficiency separately again to get NHS jobs. Your IELTS/OET from GMC registration should suffice to prove that for you non-training job in the NHS.
I've been applying for jobs and am not hearing back!
Maybe you need to revisit your application and spruce it up more. Read patiently the job description and person specifications and try to touch those points in your application. Tailor your every application to the job you are applying to. If you are finding jobs to apply, that means there are jobs but if you are not getting a callback, that means your application is falling short. You need to work on that.
To conclude, your journey starts now on the road to becoming a doctor in the UK. Still confused or have some concerns? Check out our video for some more tips and advice!
An step-by-step course for FREE
Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!