A genuine concern many have when they consider recruiting doctors from overseas is how qualified those candidates will be to fill posts within the NHS. It can be daunting trying to understand the plethora of overseas qualifications and whether or not they will adequately equip a doctor with the level of medical knowledge and understanding to work at the same level as our UK trained doctors, not to mention concerns surrounding the level of English potential candidates may possess. In this article, we strive to explain why the doctors BDI Resourcing works with are qualified and how you can be certain of their legitimacy.
Assurance of Medical Knowledge and Qualifications
One of the key benefits of working with us as an agency is that we will have done all the research and preparation for you. We ensure that any candidates we put forward for interview have a high level of clinical skill and English language knowledge. We will never offer up doctors who don’t have the qualifications to be successful in the role we are putting them forward for.
To legally practice medicine in the UK, all international doctors must obtain registration with the General Medical Council, the same as British doctors. As such, the first thing we will confirm before we consider working with a doctor is that they have completed the necessary qualifications to obtain GMC Registration. If they have not acquired these qualifications, we will offer them advice and assistance to help doctors work towards them but will not take them on as candidates until they have completed these qualifications. As such, we try to make sure that any doctor we put forward for a role within an NHS Trust should have the relevant level of clinical skill and understanding to thrive in the role we put them forward for, saving you time trying to discern medical qualifications and offering you peace of mind.
At the most basic level, our doctors will have completed a General Medical Council approved MBBS or MBCH course, as well as an internship year with a GMC approved hospital. Any international doctors who attended medical school outside of the UK, the European Economic Area or Switzerland, and who have not completed a GMC approved postgraduate qualification will have to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board exam, known as the PLAB exam, in order for us to work with them. If a doctor has completed the PLAB exam, they should have the same level of clinical knowledge and understanding as a UK doctor starting the second year of their Foundation Programme here in the UK. As such, completing PLAB should equip them with the core medical skills to take on roles at CT1/ST1 and CT2/ST2 level, depending on their previous clinical experience. This will ensure that their basic medical training is at least at an equivalent level to that of a junior doctor who has undergone training in the UK.
Each of the specialist senior doctors that we work with will have passed a Royal College approved course of postgraduate study in their relevant field of medicine, or an approved overseas equivalent qualification. The Royal College has test centres around the world where international doctors can earn these qualifications. Given that these are the exams a UK doctor would take, we would strive to locate any candidates who hold one as a priority.
However, there is a list of international postgraduate qualifications which are approved by the UK Royal Colleges and GMC as being equivalent to their UK counterparts – this is varied by specialism, but does allow holders of these qualifications to register with the GMC via the approved post-graduate qualification route as the course content and clinical skills are in line with UK standards. As a result, doctors who register for a UK medical license using approved international qualifications are expected to be of at least the level of an ST3+ doctor trained in the UK. Below is a full list of the international postgraduate qualifications recognised as equivalent - this list is taken from the General Medical Council’s own website:
American Board of Paediatrics (ABP)
Diplomate of the American Board of Paediatrics – General Paediatrics
American Board of Anesthesiology
Certificate of the American Board of Anaesthesiology
The American Board of Radiology
The American Board of Radiology Diagnostic Radiology Examination
Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
Fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
The Royal Australian College of Physicians
FRACP Adult medicine or evidence of three years of basic training (PREP) + achievement of RACP written and clinical examinations
FRACP Pediatrics or evidence of three years basic training (PREP) + achievement of RACP written and clinical examinations
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (FRANZCP) awarded since January 2012
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists
Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (FRANZCR) (Clinical Radiology)
Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (FRANZCR) (Radiation Oncology)
Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons
Fellowship in Anaesthesia and Anaesthesiology awarded since July 1999
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada – diagnostic radiology examination
European Academy of Anaesthesiology or European Society of Anaesthesiology
European Diploma in Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care
European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM)
European Diploma of Intensive Care (EDIC) awarded since January 2015
Hong Kong College of Physicians
Membership of the Hong Kong College of Physicians
College of Anaesthetists in Ireland
Fellowship of the Faculty or the College of Anaesthetists [of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland1]
Royal College of Physicians in Ireland
MRCP Medicine (Medicine of childhood)
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
MRCS (collegiate examination)
MRCSI (Intercollegiate examination)
Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Fellowship of the Faculty of Radiologists in Clinical Radiology of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (FFR RCSI)
Ministry of Health
Master of Medicine (MMED) Malaysia with MRCP (UK) awarded since 1 July 2010
This must include four years of clinical experience (required to completed MMED) plus two years of training.
College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan
FCPS Paediatrics Pakistan
Fellowship in Anaesthesiology awarded since 1998
National University of Singapore
Master of Medicine (Paediatrics)
Master of Medicine (Internal Medicine) including MRCP (UK)
Joint Committee on Specialist Training Singapore
Master of Medicine (MMED) Singapore, plus MRCP (UK) awarded since 1st July 2010
Colleges of Medicine of South Africa
Fellowship of the College of Radiologists of SA FC Rad Diag (SA) – Diag Rad awarded after 1st October 2013
University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
Doctor of Medicine or MD, (Anaesthesiology)
Doctor of Medicine or MD, (Obstetrics & Gynaecology)
Doctor of Medicine or MD, (Paediatrics)
Doctor of Medicine or MD, (medicine) awarded after January 2017
Doctor of Medicine or MD, (surgery) awarded after July 2017
West African College of Physicians
Fellowship of the West African College of Physicians (Paediatrics)
University of the West Indies
Doctor of Medicine (Anaesthesia) awarded since September 2003
(Course title has since changed to Doctor of Medicine (Anaesthesia and Intensive care))
1Acceptable without a reference to the Irish College of Surgeons
If you would like to see a full list of the UK postgraduate qualifications accepted by the GMC, you can find them here too.
Assurance of English Language Skills
We understand that communication is an essential skill in a busy hospital, and that lack of communication or misunderstanding can have serious consequences. We have dedicated an entire article to this as it is such an important topic, so if you would like to know more about our candidates’ level of English, you can read more about the process they undergo to evidence their English in this article.
To give a brief overview, in order to ensure that every doctor we put forward for interview has a high standard of English, they have all completed English language exams that test their written and spoken skills, as well as their ability to listen and understand. All candidates will have either passed the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Occupational English Test (OET). We go into the process and level of skill and understanding involved in passing these tests in further detail in the previously mentioned article. To give you a summary though, the average person relocating to the UK must achieve a 4.0 overall in their IELTS in order to obtain a Tier 2 Visa, however for a doctor to obtain GMC Registration, and for us to be willing to present them as viable candidates they must have obtained a 7.5 overall. In addition to this, our recruiters further screen doctors via Skype to ensure first-hand experience of communicating with a candidate in English, recording and marking each facet of language capability.
Commitment to Working in the UK
We pre-screen our candidates thoroughly and provide as much information about any potential position clinically as well as geographically, to try and make sure that our candidates are aware of the location and nature of the role before we present them for interview. We do this to try and safeguard against placing candidates in a hospital that they will not be well suited to.
Not only do we work closely with our candidates to confirm that they intend to remain in the UK on a long-term basis, but it is also important to mention the time and cost it takes for an international doctor to obtain GMC Registration and relocate to the UK. To give you an idea, the cost for an international doctor to take IELTS, PLAB, and apply for both a Tier 2 Visa and GMC Registration is currently anywhere around or upwards of £2,284. If a doctor is relocating with their family as well, they will need to pay for visas and an Immigration Health Surcharge that will allow them to access free healthcare with the NHS, these expenses alone can cost upward of £5000. This isn’t taking into consideration other factors and costs that crop up throughout the process or other costs involved once they have arrived in the UK. As well as the price, the amount of time it takes to complete the entire process can be around three years, potentially more depending on the individual’s circumstances. As such, by the time we present a candidate to you, we have an understanding that the doctor is extremely passionate and committed to securing work in the UK and remaining here on a long-term basis.
If you have any concerns regarding a candidate’s validity, we would always recommend checking a candidate’s references. Though these referees will usually be international doctors themselves, many have worked in the NHS at some point, and as such, possess a knowledge and understanding of what it’s like to work in NHS hospitals. This experience can help them to accurately attest to a candidate’s ability to work well within a UK hospital, as well as providing you with first-hand knowledge of the candidate’s clinical skill.
Hiring International Doctors
If you are an NHS Trust who needs support in securing international doctors, we would be happy to help. Email us at [email protected]
Gmc-uk.org. (2019). A guide to the PLAB test. [online] Available at: https://www.gmc-uk.org/registration-and-licensing/join-the-register/plab/a-guide-to-the-plab-test [Accessed 5 Nov. 2019].
Gmc-uk.org. (2019). Acceptable postgraduate qualifications. [online] Available at: https://www.gmc-uk.org/registration-and-licensing/join-the-register/before-you-apply/acceptable-postgraduate-qualifications [Accessed 5 Nov. 2019].