Many of you post-PLAB 2 may be wondering what all you can do to boost your job application so that you can land the job of your dream and word on the street is that a clinical attachment in the UK could be your saving grace. So let us discuss in depth what exactly a clinical attachment could entail and how you can go about landing one as an international medical graduate (IMG).
What is a Clinical Attachment in the UK?
A clinical attachment may also go by the name ‘observership’. Essentially what you would be doing is following a team of healthcare staff at a hospital in a department you’d be interested in working in the future. Ideally, this would allow you to understand how that particular specialty or department worked, as well as get an idea of the NHS infrastructure as a whole.
This can also be a good way to get a small refresher of what the medical field is like if you’ve had a significant gap or just feel nervous about starting in the NHS.
A clinical attachment should not be mistaken for shadowing. A shadowing period can be instated when you undertake a new job to help you adjust after speaking to HR/the department head.
Should I do a Clinical Attachment?
This should be a balanced decision made after consideration of your situation and expectations. While many feel that a clinical attachment in the UK is a golden ticket to getting a job, it may not always hold true. A hospital is under no obligation to offer you a post just because you have done an attachment with them.
What could be of use to you is that you can speak to the experience of understanding the NHS and the specialty you are interviewing in to show your willingness and dedication. It may also give you a boost of confidence if you’ve been out of practice for some time.
Free clinical attachments are rare, so keep this in mind as your proceed. At the same time, don’t shell out a great deal of money for an attachment; there is no hard and fast rule that without one you will not get a job.
What can I expect from a Clinical Attachment?
This can vary greatly depending on what you’ve signed up to do. Some hospitals may only allow you to take on ‘observer’ status, especially if you do not yet have GMC registration (most clinical attachments come with the stipulation of having registration, but a few will take on those who have at least passed PLAB 2). Typically clinical attachments in the UK last from 4-6 weeks.
You can more or less expect to start out with limited responsibilities under the watchful eye of a consultant who may then slowly delegate minor tasks to you as they see fit such as:
- Clerking (admitting) patients
- Attending ward rounds
- Speaking to patients/taking their history
- Directly observed clinical examination of patients
- Observing surgical procedures
How do I apply for an Attachment as an IMG?
Contact Human Resources (HR)
Email a consultant
Ask a Friend or Colleague
That being said, here are a few attachments we found online after a quick cursory Google:
- East Sussex NHS Trust
- University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
- Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust
- Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust
- NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
- Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
As we said before, each attachment comes with its own set of stipulations and criteria, so make sure you read every part of the application and know what you are agreeing to.
Please note you will need a valid UK visa in order to undertake a clinical attachment. If you are not already in the UK on one, you can apply for a standard visitor visa for this purpose.
How can I prepare for a Clinical Attachment in the UK?
If you feel your medical knowledge is a little rusty and in need of a tune up, it’s not a bad idea to prepare for your clinical attachment. If you’re fresh out of PLAB 2, you will have a fairly decent idea of what to expect, but we’d also recommend the following books to stay ahead of the curve:
- Oxford Handbook for the Foundation Programme
- Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties
- Oxford Handbook of Clinical Diagnosis
- Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine
- Macleod’s Clinical Examinations
It’s also a good idea to brush up on common cases seen in the specialty you intend on doing the attachment in as well as checking out our tips on what to expect on your first day.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)