Working in the UK as an International Doctor (IMG)

What are the steps you need to complete to work in the UK? Here are the options available to work or train as an international medical graduate (IMG).

What steps do I need to take?

On average, this is a 15 month process. We’ve outlined each step and provided links to the official sources for further information.

    1. A valid and verified primary medical qualification –  Not sure whether your qualification is valid? Double check on General Medical Council website. An EEA country or Switzerland or non-EEA. It may require independent verification (via EPIC verification).
    2. English Language skills – speaking, reading, writing and listening ability must be demonstrated. This is to ensure your patients’ wellbeing is not at risk. This can be demonstrated by passing IELTS/OETS (International English Language Testing System/Occupational English Test).
    3. PLAB1 exam – This tests your medical ability. The PLAB1 is a 180 multiple choice paper involving clinical scenarios, which you are given 3 hours to complete. For more information about the PLAB1 and booking it, click here.
    4. PLAB2 exam – This is the 2nd part of the PLAB exams, and involves (with the requirement of a UK Visa) coming to the UK to sit. It is an in-person exam, and you are tested on your clinical skills. For more information about the PLAB2 and booking it, click here. For information on UK Visas for the PLAB2, click here.
    5. GMC Registration – Once you’ve passed your PLAB2, you can apply for a GMC license to practice in the UK. They will ask you to provide evidence of your qualifications, internship and fitness to practice (including criminal history, previous convictions/cautions and more). For more information and to start this process, click here.
    6. Finding & Applying for a UK Job – On average, from completing your PLAB2 to getting a job, it can take 2 months.
      • If you’re not a consultant and looking to work in the UK, we recommend applying first for a non-training role in at your grade (FY2, SHO or Registrar jobs depending on your seniority) before entering a training programme. To find and apply for non-training jobs, click here.
      • If you are a consultant, you can check your eligibility for getting a consultant job here. To find and apply for consultant jobs, click here.
    7. Tier 2 Visa Application – This sounds daunting, but once you’ve secured your job the process is relatively simple. If you apply with us, at Messly Jobs, we can help you through this process.


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Once you’ve got a GMC number, check out our Training Navigator to find out more information about the hospitals in the UK and their departments, with reviews, GMC survey data and more.


Messly’s Opinion

In our experience the greatest blockers an international applicant faces are their language skills and the cultural shock of working in the UK.

Language skills – we recommend refining your English language skills, as they will increase your chances of getting a job by improving your confidence and communication skills in the application process. There are free learning tools online, and we suggest those with strong speaking and listening components.

Culture shock – medicine is an incredibly demanding profession. The toll of moving away from one’s friends and family, as well as the stress of the job, in a country you are not familiar with, is not to be underestimated. There are support systems available for IMGs. Ask your hospital and search on sites such as Facebook. Take a look at our article on Wellbeing for Doctors here.

Already completed your PLAB2?

Search for jobs in the UK on Messly. We offer £1000 (~0.9 lakh rupees) in vouchers if you find your next opportunity with us.

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For more in-depth advice, we recommend checking out Road to UK, an essential guide for international doctors looking to work in the UK, covering every aspect of the process.


Want to go straight into a training job?

The Medical Training Initiative (MTI) is a national scheme designed to allow a small number of doctors from outside the EU to enter the UK for a maximum of 24 months, so that they can benefit from training and development in NHS services before returning to their home countries. This provides entry to the UK on a Tier 5 visa.

Through the MTI, trainee doctors from countries outside the European Union are offered the opportunity to learn from experienced consultants within the UK national health system. The scheme prioritises applications from Department for International Development (DfID) priority countries or World Bank Low Income and Lower Middle Income Countries (LI & LMI).

For more information on MTI, please click here. If you’d rather apply for non-training role first to get some experience working in the UK, click here.

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