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Overview of PLAB

By Alice Howe
October 12, 2020

What is PLAB? Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board The PLAB test is for international Doctors who wish to practise medicine in the UK. The purpose of PLAB 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. It is fundamental to note that if you hold an approved GMC postgraduate qualification or you are an EU national and qualified in a European institution then you will automatically be able to apply for registration and therefore not required to sit the PLAB exam. A list of GMC approved postgraduate qualifications can be found here. However, if your postgraduate qualification is not approved, and you are not an EU national who qualified in a European institution then you will be required to sit PLAB 1 and 2. What are the entry requirements for PLAB? To take PLAB you will have to have the following qualifications and experience: A primary medical qualification from an institution which is listed in the World Health Organisation Directory of Medical Schools. Have either taken IELTS and received an overall score of 7.5 (with a score no less than 7.0 in each section of the test) or have taken OET with a minimum of grade B in each section of the test Twelve months’ postgraduate clinical experience at a teaching hospital. How many parts to the PLAB test are there? There are two parts to the PLAB test. Part 1 of the test is a three-hour exam which contains 180 multiple-choice questions. The first part will test your ability to apply medical knowledge to the care of patients rather than how well you can recite medical facts. The questions will regard the current best practice in the UK and all equipment which is routinely available in UK hospitals. Therefore, you will need to answer all questions in relation to published evidence and not according to your own local arrangements. The exam will cover common or acute conditions which are seen by trainees who are entering their second year of the Foundation Programme (FY2). The second part of the test is PLAB 2. This test is a 18-station objective structured clinical exam and it should last for around three hours. The test is held at the GMC’s Clinical Assessment Centre in Manchester. The second part of PLAB comprises eighteen different scenarios, each lasting eight minutes. The exam will test you in various settings such as a mock consultation or an acute ward. Similar to the first part of the exam, PLAB 2 will test your ability to apply knowledge to the care of patients rather than how well a Doctor can recite facts. For each scenario given, you will be marked against three different realms. The first is data gathering, technical and assessment skills. This realm covers taking physical examinations, practical procedures and investigations which lead to diagnosis. The second realm is clinical management skills, which will require you to formulate a diagnosis and provide an explanation to the patient. The last domain is international skills. Here, they will test how you approach each circumstance, the use of open and closed questions whilst demonstrating your professionalism and understanding of ethical principles. It is useful to note that you can sit PLAB 1 as many times as you need. But you must pass PLAB 2 within three years of taking PLAB 1 and you can only take PLAB 2 four times and if you fail at the fourth attempt you will have to take PLAB 1 again. Visit the GMC website for further information and to access helpful resources for the study of PLAB 1 and PLAB 2. Applying for a UK Visa Once you have passed PLAB 1 and have been given a date to take your PLAB 2 in Manchester you will then have to apply for a UK Visa in order to enter the UK and sit the exam. Before you begin your Visa application, it would be useful to collate the following documents to support your application: -Passport -Cover Letter -Bank statements -Letter of employment -PLAB 1 results -PLAB 2 booking confirmation -IELTS results -Primary medical qualification You can apply for your UK Visa here. Further details on applying for your Visa will be provided in our next blog post – Applying for UK Visa to take PLAB 2. How long does it take to get PLAB results back? PLAB 1 exam results are typically available four weeks after you have taken the test and PLAB 2 results are usually available two weeks after taking the test. The GMC will post your results directly to the address used on your application form. Results can also be found via the GMC website the day after results have been sent through the post. Please note that the GMC do not provide results over the phone, by email or fax. If you are currently in the process of taking your PLAB exams and are interested in relocating to the UK then get in touch with one of our Specialist Advisors where we can guide you through all required exams, GMC registration, and provide you with a tailored job search in order to help you move to the UK as soon as possible - at [email protected] If you are an international doctor who is interested in relocating to the UK and working within the NHS send your CV to [email protected] - and we will be happy to help you. Come and say hello! Join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor - here you will receive frequent access to relocation blogs, the opportunity to ask questions and meet other IMGs! Originally posted: 07/03/2018 Updated: 12/10/2020

The UK Visit Visa Application Process for PLAB 2

By Alice Howe
October 12, 2020

After you have passed PLAB 1 you will then need to sit PLAB 2. At this stage you will then need to consider when you want to come to the UK and take the second part of the exam. This is because firstly, you will need to start preparing for the exam numerous weeks in advance. Secondly, you will need to apply for a UK Visiting Visa as soon as you have booked your exam. The application process is essentially broken down into two stages:  1) The online application for a UK Visitor Visa. 2) The submission of all required supporting documents and providing Biometric Data in a Visa application centre. We advise you that when it comes to uploading the required supporting documents that you upload them all in one sitting. This will save you a lot of time in comparison to uploading them on multiple occasions. The Online Application First, the online application will ask you to provide details such as your full name, passport information, and national identity. Then it will ask you to provide your travel information and essentially an itinerary. This information should include the date you will arrive in the UK and the date you will leave the UK (A detailed travel itinerary should be provided in your cover letter). You will then be asked to provide the main reason for your visit to the UK. Here, we advise that you choose the ‘business, including sports and entertainment’ option. Once you have answered no to the following options: travelling with an organised group, travelling with a spouse, visiting a company or being paid for a business activity, you will then see your reason: Take the PLAB or OSCE. Other details that the application will ask you to provide include personal and family information, employment details, how much money you plan on spending, accommodation details, any previous Visa refusals, and criminal convictions. Once you have provided all the required information you will then be taken to a declaration page. This page offers you to pick an appointment date with a Visa Application Centre. However, do not select a date if you have not uploaded all the required supported documents. A Standard UK Visit Visa costs £95. What supporting documents will I need to provide?   It is important to noate that the required documents will vary dependant on each individuals personal circumstances. Nevertheless, every applicant will have to provide two key documents: 1) A valid passport 2) Evidence of your PLAB 2 booking confirmation. Other documents that typically help your application: Cover Letter: Details on what to include in your cover letter are provided in the section below Passport: Must be valid Letter of employment: This letter should be provided by the hospital that you are currently working for confirming your employment. Bank statements: If you will be supporting yourself financially for this trip then you will need to provide your bank statements, typically six months’ worth. However, if another person is supporting you then you will need to provide your own bank statements as well as the bank statements of your financial supporter. Proof of accommodation in Manchester: As your exam is held in Manchester we advise you took book accommodation in this city and if you book in advance the price will be a lot lower. PLAB 1 results: It would be useful to provide the application with a copy of the email which confirms your passing of the PLAB 1 exam. PLAB 2 booking: Another useful document that could be provided is a copy of the booking confirmation that the GMC will send you IELTS results: This will confirm that you are eligible to take PLAB Primary medical qualification: The last document which will greatly support your application is evidence of your primary medical qualification. You can apply for your UK Visa here. What should I include in my Visa Cover Letter? If you are unsure of how to lay out your cover letter then you can find an example here. In the opening paragraph you should provide your name, visa application number, date of birth, passport number and the reason for your application. You can also include details of where you received your primary qualification, your current place of employment and your GMC registration number. After that, it is a good idea to provide the details of your family members, including your parents’ names and any other names of family members who are a dependent. In the next paragraph you should give an outline of your academic history and what led you to take PLAB 2 and essentially your Visit to the UK. Here, you could include information about your goal to live and work in the UK. After you have outlined your academic history, you should then state what accommodation you are staying in during your visit, whether it is staying in a hotel, or with a family or a friend – you will need to provide evidence. If you are staying in a hotel then provide evidence of the hotel booking confirmation or if you are staying with a friend, ask them to write a statement confirming your stay. You will then need to provide an entire itinerary for your trip to the UK. This includes the date and time you arrive, flight details and what you plan to do in between taking the PLAB 2 exam and the date you leave. If you have a few extra days after you have taken the exam you will have to provide good reasoning for staying beyond the purpose of the stay. Lastly, you should provide a numbered list of the supporting documents that you have provided to accompany the letter. Once you have submitted your Visa application you will then just need to wait! The UK Visa’s and Immigration department declare that the standard service to wait for your Visa to be approved or denied is fifteen days. However, from experience this time can fluctuate. So, in the meantime focus on your PLAB 2 studies and just wait for their message. If you have any questions about applying for your PLAB 2 Visa then get in touch with us at [email protected] where we will be delighted to help you. Good luck! Originally Posted: 09/03/2018 Updated: 12/10/2020


By Alice Howe
October 09, 2020

What is PLAB 2? PLAB 2 is the second part of the GMC’s PLAB Exams and is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination Exam. It's made up of 18 scenarios, each lasting eight minutes and aims to reflect real life settings including a mock consultation or an acute ward. The whole exam will take around three hours and 10 minutes. You'll have one and a half minutes between scenarios to read the instructions and patient information. There will be at least two rest stations, allowing you to take breaks. The exam covers everything a UK trained doctor might expect to see on the first day of Foundation Year Two (F2). It tests your ability to apply knowledge to the care of patients, not how well you can remember and recite facts. All the questions relate to current best practice. You should answer them in relation to published evidence and not according to your local arrangements. Fees: PLAB 1: £239 PLAB 2: £875 Where is PLAB 2 held? The PLAB 2 Exam is held at the General Medical Council Assessment Centre in Manchester: General Medical Council 3 Hardman Street Manchester M3 3AW Please note that this is the only assessment centre and so to sit PLAB 2 you will be required to come to the UK by applying for a PLAB 2 UK Visit Visa. Please note, you will need to apply for a UK Visit Visa as soon as you have booked your exam. You will need to collate numerous documents to evidence your application – so we advise for you to get organised for this as soon as possible. View our article on the UK Visit Visa to find out what documents you will need. Furthermore, it is important that you do not apply for a six month visit visa when your purpose in the UK is merely to sit your PLAB 2 Exam. Therefore, it is important to apply for a visa of around 1-2 weeks. This is important because you will need to provide an itinerary of your stay and applications who do not evidence their plan for the UK/apply for too much time in the UK will be denied.   When should I book my PLAB 2 Exam? The PLAB 2 exam can be booked at any time throughout the year as the GMC holds multiple exam sittings per month. However, the PLAB 2 is in high demand which means that it is rare to be able to book an exam date for the next month. On average, exam dates are available almost 90 days ahead of the date you are booking on. Because of the high demand we, therefore, advise for you to book your PLAB 2 Exam date as soon as you find out you have passed PLAB 1.  Those who end up booking a week after finding out their passed PLAB 1 result can end up waiting up to 5 months for the next available date. To apply for your PLAB 2 Exam you will need to log onto your GMC Registration account view the available dates and book under the ‘My Tests’ section. You can only do this once you have your PLAB 1 results.   When should I start preparing for PLAB 2? The preparation time for PLAB 2 will vary depending on the individual and their personal circumstances. Factors that will influence your preparation time include your: Medical Knowledge English Language Skills Clinical Assessment Experience Interpersonal Skills Ideally, from listening to a number of doctors experiences with PLAB 2 – the minimum amount of revision time is 8 weeks. PLAB 2 Courses: Dr Swamy PLAB Courses – Manchester This course can be taken In-Person or Online. The course is located at a medical training centre with the purpose of training International Medical Graduates for the PLAB 2 exam. The course centre is held in Levenshulme, Manchester. For £600 you will receive a 12-day course of training and revision resources for PLAB 2, unlimited days of mannequin practice until your exam date and two mock tests. Online PLAB Coach This course is based online and costs £250. Buying this course offers you access to PLAB 2 lectures and a simulated mock exam. The use of Facebook Groups and Online Forums There are various PLAB 2 Facebook groups you can join which will provide you with support from other IMGs, the ability to ask mock exam questions, or the opportunity to find a partner to practice with. PLAB 2 Exam Stations The PLAB 2 stations can be roughly divided into three categories. History, Examination, Diagnosis and Management Stations Purely Manikin/Examination Stations Medical Ethics Stations   History, Examination, Diagnosis and Management Stations These stations will comprise of a clinical based scenario between a doctor and a patient within a typical clinical setting. The topics can range from a number of specialties including Medicine, Psychiatry and Paediatrics. You will be expected to take the patient’s history, perform an examination and discuss management with the patient. You will have to complete the entire task within 8 minutes. A bell will ring at 6 minutes and you will have to proceed to the management part if you have not yet begun to. Time management is a fundamental part of these stations because the mark scheme is based on History, Examination, Diagnosis and Management. Examination Stations The type of station will require you to perform a task on a manikin, such as the insertion of an IV Cannula or Basic Life Support. You will still be marked against the History, Examination, Diagnosis and Management criteria. Your revision should be extensive as almost all examinations performed in the medical field can appear in the PLAB 2 exam – so make sure you are prepared. Medical Ethics Stations The GMC has a strict code of conduct and it is essential that all practising doctors follow the GMC’s Good Medical Practice guidelines. For the GMC, it is important that all doctors within the NHS: Make the care of their patient their first concern Be competent and keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date Take prompt action if you think patient safety is being comprised Establish and maintain good partnerships with your patients and colleagues Maintain trust in you and the profession by being open, honest and acting with integrity Some doctors find these stations the most difficult because they ultimately test your knowledge of the UK system and your approach towards communication, behaviour and patient empathy. The scenarios will be based on a wide range of issues to assess your ability to act ethically. This includes patients with drug use, domestic violence cases and end of life treatment. The Marking Scheme There will be a total of 12 marks for each station. The marking is based on three criteria: Data Gathering, Technical and Assessment Skills – History taking, physical examination, practical procedures, investigations leading to a diagnosis Clinical Management Skills – Formulating a diagnosis, explaining something to the patient, formulating a management plan Interpersonal Skills– How you approach the station: whether you establish a rapport with the patient, how you use open and closed questioning, involving the patient and demonstrating your professionalism and understanding of ethical principles When marking against the domains the examiner will assess your competency across a number of skill areas. Tip – Be careful not to use medical terminology during each station, but if it is said, it is advised for you to explain the meaning to the patient. Although marking is based directly against the above criteria, there are several other elements that the examiner will consider. This includes your listening skills, your tone of voice, hand gestures etc – so be conscious of your mannerisms. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Accommodation near the GMC Building, Manchester Hotel Price Distance from GMC Building Travelodge Manchester Central £34 per night 9-minute walk Jurys Inn Manchester £62 10-minute walk Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel Portland Street £61 14-minute walk Please note that the above prices are subject to change, so it is important to book well in advance to secure the lowest price. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Successful Tips to Passing PLAB 2 Take some time to read the task It is very important to take your time to read the task and to understand what is expected of you. When you are considering your approach to the task remember the three criteria you will be marked on. If you have misunderstood the task, the examiner may ask you to refer back to it. If this does happen, please do not panic – just take a deep breath and start again. When you are given the name of the patient – be sure to use the correct name and do not waste time establishing the patient’s name. This may appear like a small detail but to call a patient by their wrong name is unprofessional and it will impact your overall mark at the station.   Do not think of PLAB 2 as an exam, but a busy clinic day The best approach to the situation is to think of the exam as a busy clinic day. Just think that you have 18 consultations on your clinic list, you have enough time to look over each patient’s notes before each consultation and you may have to give details of some test results. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- References 2020. PLAB 2 Guide. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 October 2020]. If you are an IMG who is interested in relocating to the UK and working within the NHS send your CV to [email protected] – and one of our Specialist Advisers will be happy to help you. Come and join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor. Here you will receive access to frequent relocation blog posts, the opportunity to ask questions and receive professional support and guidance and you can meet other IMGs! Originally Posted: 10/08/2018 Updated: 09/10/2020  

UKMLA to replace PLAB

By Gabrielle Richardson
May 23, 2018

The GMC has announced their plan to replace PLAB with UKMLA for doctors wishing to practise in the UK The General Medical Council has approved a plan to develop a unified assessment for every doctor who wants to practise in the UK. This will be implemented from the academic year of 2023-24. The new title of the exam is the United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA). Currently, UK graduates are required to pass their medical school’s exams, and international medical graduates are required to pass the Professional and Assessment Board (PLAB) test (or have a GMC approved postgraduate qualification) before the GMC will grant them a licence to practise in the UK. Why is this change happening? While UK medical schools’ curriculums must comply with the GMC’s Outcomes for Graduates, the GMC claims that the new licensing exam will give greater reassurance to the UK public and create a “common threshold for safe practice”. Post the GMC’s announcement, they then carried out a public consultation from January 2017 to April 2017 and have visited all medical schools to get medical students’ views.   So what do we know about the UKMLA so far? 1. What is the MLA? The exam is likely to consist of a “test of applied knowledge” (multiple-choice questions), a “test of clinical and professional skills” (objective structured clinical exam – OSCE), and questions about health care and in the UK. 2. If I am already on the UK medical register, will I have to take the MLA? No – the MLA will be for people who are applying for registration for a license to practise. 3. If I apply to join the UK medical register before 2023 will I have to take MLA? No – the requirement to pass the MLA will start in the academic year of 2023-24. 4. Will I have to take PLAB and the MLA? Once the MLA replaces PLAB you will take the MLA. Before implementation, you will take PLAB. 5. Will there be exemptions from taking the MLA? Some doctors entering the UK from overseas are exempt from the existing PLAB tests, as they have a GMC approved postgraduate qualification. Therefore, it is possible that some doctors will be exempt from the MLA under similar arrangements. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, we do not know any further details about the new UKMLA exam. However, when more information is published we will share this with you. How will the UKMLA exam test me? The exam will form two parts: 1. Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) - this test will be the same for UK students and IMGS. You will be able to sit this test overseas. There is an intention for the test to be -based for all candidates. 2. Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment (Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment) - If your medical school's clinical exam meets the same standard of the MLA - you will have passed this element of the exam. If you are an IMG who wants to relocate to the UK and work for the NHS then send your CV to [email protected] – and one of our Specialist Advisers will be happy to guide and support you through your journey to the UK. We look forward to hearing from you! Alternatively, head over to our Facebook Group: IMG Advisor for an online support network of IMG’s who want to relocate to the UK. Referencing: (2018). What you should know about the new national exam for medical students | Student BMJ. ] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2018]. UKLA forums. 2018.) GMC announces plans to develop the UK Medical Licensing exam (UKMLA) – UKMLAforums. ] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2018].

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