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GMC Registration for International Medical Graduates (IMGs)

  • November 03, 2022

So you’ve decided that you’d like to work in the UK for the NHS but you don’t know where to start? The main step along your journey is GMC Registration and there are a few routes available to you as an International Medical Graduate (IMG). This blog will guide you through the process of obtaining GMC registration as an overseas doctor whilst detailing what documents are required and how your application can be made. It’s everything you need to know about GMC Registration, all in one place!

Why do you need GMC Registration?

To practice medicine in the UK, you must be registered with the GMC and have a license to practise. A license allows you to do things like prescribe medicine and treat patients. The GMC are the only recognised body that can issue registration and license to practice medicine in the UK so you need to be really familiar with their processes and requirements as early as possible. Once you have a license, you will also need to demonstrate that your knowledge and skills are up to date by undergoing regular checks on your practice, a process known as revalidation - you can find out more about this process here.

The UK warmly welcomes doctors at varying stages of their careers; however, GMC registration will always be required for you to work as a doctor in the NHS. The standard route of entry for most IMGs is ‘Full Registration with License to Practise’ however you can look at your options here.

What are the requirements for GMC Registration?

Before we get into the application process itself, you should consider the requirements you are going to need in order to be granted your registration and license to practise. In essence, you need to prove that you are a qualified doctor, you have the right clinical skills, you can speak English well and you have maintained good medical practise throughout your career. The exact requirements are broken down in to these sections:

Assuming that your original medical degree (often MBBS) was obtained outside of the UK, you’ll need to ensure that it is accepted by the GMC. In order to be acceptable, it will need to be listed on the world directory of medical schools, be a programme of study in allopathic medicine comprising at least 5,500 hours over a minimum period of 3 years. As there are thousands of medical schools around the world, there are some nuances so check for your particular institution using the criteria here. You should check this before progressing with any further steps to avoid disappointment further down the line.

Note that your primary medical qualification will need to be verified by EPIC through the ECFMG service which we’ll talk about in a moment.

You’ll be asked to provide evidence to the GMC that you have completed a period of pre-graduate or postgraduate clinical experience in your home country. To evidence this you’ll provide a signed document or certificate which includes details of the dates and durations of all rotations. It is important that the document confirming your internship details is issued with the date that the programme ended and also confirm that posts included active medical practise and direct patient contact. You should also note that there are minimum criteria for rotations in medicine and surgery which you can check here.

During your application you will get asked about your fitness to practise including a list of all employers and countries that you have practised or held a license in over the last five years. The GMC have a directory of all medical regulatory authorities that can be found here so you can check yours are listed.

Each certificate will need to cover all of your work in that country or state, confirm that you are allowed to practise medicine under that license and notify that you haven’t been disqualified or subject to any pending investigations that could call your practise in to question. If there is no regulatory authority or you worked in a non-clinical role then you will need to provide employer references instead.

For further information on obtaining your COGS, please read our blog post here.

Since you’ll be working in a purely English speaking setting, it’s imperative that you’re fluent in the native language. This can be a big hurdle as the standards of very high but keep going and book your sittings in early to get through the exams as quickly as possible.

You have several ways to evidence your skills:

  • OET – Scoring a minimum B in each element (Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening)
  • IELTS – Scoring an average 7.5 overall and a minimum 7 in each element (Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening)
  • Live in a native English speaking country for two years
  • Find an employer who are willing to objectively test your language and complete an SELR to exempt you from exams

For full guidance on English Language Tests read our Ultimate Guide to English Language Tests for IMGs.

This may seem obvious but make sure your passport is in date and will be ready for your arrival in the UK as you’ll need to take it with you in person to attend and ID Check at the GMC office. Read on to find out more about ID Checks.

This is where you’ll possibly need to put in the most amount of work as you’ll be required to prove to the GMC that you have the knowledge and skills to practise medicine in the UK. You have several possible options available to you and all will require some effort:

  • PLAB - the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board. Its purpose is to test an IMG’s ability, as a Doctor, to work safely in a UK NHS hospital and to ensure they possess the relevant skills and knowledge to practise. For more information on PLAB please click here
  • Approved Postgraduate Qualification – if you’re lucky enough to have studied for a specialist qualification such as a Royal College exam then you are already a step closer than you thought! If you think this route is for you then this guide details all of your options
  • EU Qualifications – If your primary medical qualification was completed in Switzerland or the EEA then there’s a good chance you’ll be able to use this. There’s a full list of which qualifications are listed as acceptable that can be found here.
  • Sponsorship or MTI Schemes – listed directly with NHS Trusts and Royal Colleges, there are a limited number of sponsorship schemes available to overseas applicants that meet certain criteria. An example of one such scheme can be found here.

Specialist of GP Registration – if you’re able to demonstrate your capabilities as a Consultant in a way that proves your skills and experience are equivalent to that of a doctor with the same relevant CCT then you can join the Specialist or GP Registers directly.

Finally, you’ll need to prove to the GMC that all of your documents can be verified independently using ECFMG and their EPIC service. If your primary medical qualification was say outside of the UK then it will need to be verified and if you are choosing to register through the postgraduate qualification route then this will also need verification. For full guidance on EPIC verification follow our advice here.

You’ll also need to make sure that any documents written in a different language are translated in to English using an official translation service.

How do I apply for GMC Registration?

Online Application - Once all elements discussed above have been completed and obtained you will need to register for GMC online by going to ‘my registration and ‘start application’ which will ask you to fill out your personal details and provide evidence of all of the above.

Fee – You will be able to pay your application fee during the online application process and current prices are £420 for one year.

Submit – Once you have paid your fee and the GMC have received your details, you’ll get a response within 5 days to either request further documentation or invite you to your final ID Check.

ID Check – in person ID Checks have now returned after a long hiatus during the pandemic and you’ll now have 6 months from your invitation to attend the GMC office in the UK with original copies of your documents. Once checked, you’ll be on the register!

Upcoming Changes to GMC Assessments

The GMC are working towards creating one assessment all doctors are assessed by. The Medical licensing Assessment (MLA) draws on current assurance efforts to establish a single safe practise threshold. If you are taking your Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test and applying for registration with a license to practise in the UK, this will be replaced with the MLA in 2024.  This applies to UK doctors as well and those graduating in the academic year 2024-25 will have to pass the MLA as part of their medical school degree.

Summary

We hope that this article has detailed everything you need to know about GMC Registration for IMGs and all of the requirements however we appreciate that everyone has a unique set of circumstances so please get in touch and ask us questions via [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help!

Alternatively, you can reach us on all social media channels where we regularly provide the best content and guidance for IMGs:

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What’s up next?

Why not take a read of our blogs on English Language Tests and Postgraduate Qualifications for GMC Registration.

 
 

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