The simple solution to explaining clinical gaps and breaks

Clinical gaps or breaks in your practice, before, during, and after your internship is a concern for many, which is why we thought it important to discuss how you can approach them. This thing becomes a big issue even before you think about taking any steps towards getting GMC registration.

The whole discussion in this post is for non-UK non-EEA nationals with a non-European qualification. For example, a Bangladeshi national with a Bangladeshi medical degree. GMC has a very well laid out ‘Breaks in practice’ criteria on their website which is applicable only for EEA nationals (or exempt persons) with a non-European qualification. It is NOT for all IMGs.

What does a clinical gap or break mean?

We graduate from out medical schools, then we do an approved internship period to be trained as a doctor, then we get registered by local medical councils, and then we go on and practice as a doctor. Any period of time between or during any of the above steps – from graduation to internship, during internship or from internship to starting practicing as a doctor, can be termed as clinical gap.

Please remember, any time during or between this period you are doing any work in non-medical capacity is also a break in clinical practice.

What clinical gaps or breaks in your practice are approved?

During your internship

GMC asks for continuous medical practice of 12 months (minimum) for your internship to be approved. But as life happens, you may take leave- so five weeks of annual leave plus 20 additional days are still approved, if that reflects on your internship completion certificate.

Before and after your internship

There is no hard and fast rule for that. Clinical gaps or breaks around these periods can be due to the pursuit of medical-related education, training or experience, or contractual maternity/paternity leave etc. GMC will ask you to provide evidence to support your case and they will take it from there.

What evidences may you be asked to provide?

This is not a question any third party can definitely answer. Everyone’s case is different, and experience may vary from person to person. So, don’t prepare papers because you’ve heard from other individuals what they needed, and submit them along with your application if GMC has not asked for it from you.

So I would advise you to go through, Documents needed for GMC registration application and see what can be expected from you if you were doing any non-medical work or medical work without registration.

Also some other definite proofs like proof of electives, proof of taking exams, proof of doing any CPD activity, proof of doing volunteer medical work, etc and a personal statement can be asked from you. You should keep this prepared to save you time after you apply for registration.

Another advice I can give you is, follow the table you put up in your past professional experience in GMC registration online application. Go through it one by one and see if you could be asked to provide any proof.

You SHOULD keep that copy to yourself as well, as you won’t be able to go back and see what dates you mentioned in your application after you submit.

How long it may take to process my application?

GMC tries to process all the application within 3 months of submission, so if they want any paper from you, it will definitely come with a deadline to submit. If you can’t obtain that specific paper then you should ask GMC if anything alternative can be submitted. If there is no official email, ask whether it can be posted or faxed.

Communication and patience is the key. Whenever you email any question regarding your application, a reply from GMC can take 5 working days. If you can try calling them in anything you need to know quickly- they are out there to help you.

Even though there is a 3 months time limit, there has been cases where it took 6 months for a doctor to sort out everything and finally getting FULL GMC registration. So, again, communication and patience.

What if doing all these I get denied of FULL registration?

As I have stated earlier, no third party can say what proofs you will need to provide, and in the same way, no one can say whether your application will be accepted by GMC. I don’t want to come across as pessimistic, but at the same time I don’t want to give you inflated expectations.

Be truthful and adhere to Good Medical Practice.

If unfortunately, you do get denied of registration, GMC will guide you what you can do afterwards, and if you are still willing to pursue that path just follow their guidance.

Good Luck!