International Medical Graduates (IMGs) from all over the world relocate to the UK to be able to continue their career as a doctor within the NHS. The process can be quite lengthy and unique to the individual depending on the steps which you have taken in your career so far. The first milestone in the process is getting a licence to practise to be able to carry out certain activities such as prescribing medicines and treating patients. The organisation that reviews and issues all types of registrations is the General Medical Council (GMC) and this applies to all doctors whether they are working for the NHS, privately as a substantive or locum doctor.
The requirements for registration in the UK will depend on several factors:
- your nationality
- the country in which you gained your primary medical qualification
- the type of work you want to do
- whether or not you have completed a period of post-graduate training or an internship
In addition, IMGs will be required to demonstrate their medical knowledge and skills, and all applicants may have to evidence that they are competent in using the English language before they are registered.
The purpose of this article is to outline the most common route that overseas doctors take to relocate to the UK when applying for full registration with a licence to practise. There are links to articles with more in-depth information available surrounding each stage of the journey.
Route via Medical Training Initiative
The Medical Training Initiative (MTI) is a UK scheme that allows a fixed number of international medical graduates to work and train within the NHS for a maximum of 24 months. The purpose is to improve the quality of healthcare in developing countries by providing doctors with a period of training and development in the NHS before returning home to utilise those skills.
A list of medical Royal Colleges that operate the MTI scheme can be found here. GMC registration is a requirement for all doctors practicing and training in the UK and must be gained before an MTI application is submitted.
Doctors must meet minimum criteria to be able to apply for the MTI scheme. This includes:
- Appropriate postgraduate qualification
- Part 1 College Exam or equivalent
- Three years minimum postgraduate experience
The specification varies depending on your speciality and Royal College so please check on their website for the criteria which is specific to you.
International doctors are required to provide an IELTS or OET certificate as part of their GMC registration. MTI applicants are not required to provide Professional Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test results.
Learn more about IELTS and OET
Apply to join the UK medical register for doctors with the GMC
Learn more about how to join the medical register here
You will need to get your qualifications independently verified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.
Learn all you need to know about EPIC and ECFMG document verification here
Once you have completed steps 1-4 you can apply for your licence to practise with the GMC.
After you have ensured you have all of the documentation for a valid registration with the GMC you will need to start looking for a job in the UK. You will need to do this independently as agencies are unable to facilitate applications to the MTI scheme. Different specialities must be applied for via their respective Royal College. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on UK training and the reduction in demand for MTI trainees in the current climate, some of the colleges will not be going ahead with applications for the scheme in 2022.
You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa. Once a suitable applicant and post have been identified, an application for a Certificate of Sponsorship for a Tier 5 Government Exchange MTI Scheme Visa needs to be made via the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. The Academy issues a Certificate of Sponsorship which the individual uses in applying for their Tier 5 visa in their home country. Once the visa has been granted, the MTI participant is able to enter the UK and take up their MTI post.
Some colleges have suspended applications for the 2022 intake due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on UK training and education. Applications from prospective candidates are expected to open for the 2023 round in the Autumn of 2022, subject to the impact of the pandemic on UK training over next 12-18 months.
At A&E Agency, we’re passionate about the quality of our people and proud of the services we provide. If you need information or guidance with becoming a doctor in the UK, register today with A&E Agency. Our team are here to help international doctors find great work opportunities in the UK.
Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. 2021. MTI Frequently Asked Questions - Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. [online] Available at: <https://www.aomrc.org.uk/medical-training-initiative/mti-frequently-asked-questions/#1466726176207-338e29f1-7c73> [Accessed 14 December 2021].
Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. 2021. Medical Royal Colleges Participating in MTI - Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. [online] Available at: <https://www.aomrc.org.uk/medical-training-initiative/medical-royal-colleges-participating-in-mti/> [Accessed 14 December 2021].
GOV.UK. 2021. Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange visa. [online] Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government-authorised-exchange> [Accessed 14 December 2021].
Gmc-uk.org. 2021. Join the register. [online] Available at: <https://www.gmc-uk.org/registration-and-licensing/join-the-register> [Accessed 14 December 2021].
All of the information in this article was accurate at the time of being written in December 2021.