The United Kingdom is a paradental democracy and constitutional monarchy consisting of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is one of the most developed countries in the world and has a very high-income economy and high standards of living. Immigration to the UK is very common, as working professionals from all around the world look to find their luck in one of the most powerful nations in Europe.
Along with all other professions, doctors are also very keen to start or continue their career in the UK, thanks to much better working conditions, higher salaries, and better overall standard of living, In this article, we will take a look at what it takes to become a medical doctor in the UK.
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1. Language requirements for becoming a doctor in the UK
English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, and young kids from all over start learning it early in their school years. If you are reading this article, you probably already have a good command of the language. In order to work as a medical doctor in the UK, though, you will need to prove that by passing the academic version of the IELTS exam with an overall score of at least 7.5, and without having a lower score than 7 on any section.
There is one way to bypass the IELTS exam, and that is by completing a 30-day attachment with an NHS hospital, which will make a judgment on your English language skills. During this attachment, you will work within your department by shadowing your colleagues in their various duties. The hospital can then support your application to the GMC, by guaranteeing sufficient language skills and safe medical practice.
2. Study in UK medical schools if possible
The UK has one of the best higher education systems in the entire world, and studying medicine there will certainly put you on the right track to become a doctor in the United Kingdom. However, medical schools are particularly competitive in the UK, so only students with the highest grades in high school are generally accepted. That being said, if your grades are up to par, and you have a strong motivation to succeed in your field, there are very few places that are better for studying medicine than the UK.
Medical programs at UK universities look like this. Once the first 2 years of your undergraduate studies are completed, you will move on to Foundation training, which lasts for another two years. Finally, after that is done, you can select the field you want to specialize in and start your specialization training. Spots for some popular fields are extremely competitive, so you need to work extra hard to get into your desired field. This training can last for up to 7 years, and once completed, you will obtain a Certificate of Completion Training or CCT.
3. Required Tests for Medical License
Before you can apply for a medical license, you need to have passed an IELTS exam proving your proficiency in the English language. Another requirement if you aren’t a graduate from a UK, EEA, or Swiss medical institution, is to take the PLAB exam which is used to assess whether an International Medical Graduate is qualified to be registered with the GMC or not. Passing this exam will make you eligible for full GMC registration.
For legal residency, one must consult with the local British embassy to see their options when it comes to obtaining the appropriate resident visa/permit.
4. Getting Medical License
The way in which a medical license is obtained in the UK will change drastically from 2024 onwards, as they are working on an assessment called The Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA) which will be used to assess all doctors who wish to obtain a medical license in the UK.
In the meantime, there are four different ways you can get the license. One way is through sponsorship. You will need to prove to the sponsor that you possess the knowledge and skills to do the job they are hiring you for, and if they are, they will send a certificate of sponsorship to the GMC which will help your application. You can read more about sponsorships here. If you graduated from a recognized school, you can immediately register with the GMC. If you graduated from a non-recognized school, you can take the PLAB test, which proves that you possess the necessary knowledge to register with the GMC. You can also apply as a specialist or general practitioner (GP).
5. Getting a Work Visa to Become a Doctor in the UK
If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen, you do not need a work permit in order to work in the, but you will need to apply for a UK residence card or prove that you have the right to work in the UK. If this doesn’t apply to you, you will need to obtain a work visa or work permit before coming to work in the UK.
To become a doctor in the UK, you will need to apply for a Health and Care visa at your local British embassy. To apply, you need to prove that you have a job offer from the NHS and that you are a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional, or adult social care professional. You can see all the information and requirements in the official link at the beginning of this paragraph.
6. Finding jobs in UK as a doctor
Compared to other developed nations, private practitioners in the UK make significantly less money, so most doctors who wish to work privately, also have a regular NHS job. When it comes to the regulations for starting your own practice, any doctor who is fully registered with the GMC can start working privately, without having to notify the GMC beforehand. Please note that provisional or limited registered doctors are not allowed to operate privately without supervision.
To find open hospital vacancies, you can follow the official NHS Jobs website that lists all open positions in each city.
7. Becoming a doctor in the United Kingdom with a foreign degree
In order for medical professionals to be allowed to practice in the UK, they have to be registered and licensed with the General Medical Council (GMC), as well as have the IELTS exam passed with an acceptable score. There are a few routes you can take when registering with the GMC. One way is the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board test (PLAB), which determines whether you possess a satisfactory level of skill and knowledge in medicine and English to be able to practice in the UK. If you studied in a recognized medical school in the UK or Europe, the PLAB test is not required for you to register with the GMC.
If you pass the PLAB test, or if you graduated from a recognized school, you can register with the GMC. Before you get fully licensed to be able to start working, you will also need to attend a year-long internship in the UK. After that is done, you need to visit the GMC in person where you will provide them with the original documents as proof for your application to become a doctor in the United Kingdom.
I hope that this article on becoming a doctor in the UK was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Medical Schools Category!