IMG applications for FY1 starting in August 2024 open on July 4, 2023 and close on July 25, 2023 at 12:00pm midday BST.
UPDATED: June 23, 2023
The UK Foundation Programme (UKFP) is the UK postgraduate training programme for new medical graduates. It’s a 2-year programme consisting of Foundation Year 1 (FY1) which is equivalent to internship, and Foundation Year 2 (FY2) which is an additional year of experience before starting specialty training.
Please take note that if you have already completed internship, then you cannot apply for the UK Foundation Programme.
The UKFP office has just released the new eligibility guidance for applications to FY1 starting in August 2024. Non-UK medical students and international medical graduates who wish to join in August 2024 will need to submit the eligibility application this July 2023 so make sure you’re up to date with the guidance!
Let’s review some of the important aspects of applying for this programme for an IMG.
Questions to ask yourself before you apply
As mentioned in the introduction, the UKFP is specifically designed for new medical graduates. This means that if you have already completed an internship overseas or you plan to, then you won’t be able to apply.
However, if your internship was rejected by the GMC and you’re unable to remedy the issues, then you might also want to consider applying.
That’s really up to you and your background. If you plan to work in the UK long-term, there is obviously an advantage of starting your postgraduate medical career in the UK right from the beginning. By doing this, you will integrate into the system faster and you will be strongly supported in your transition to the NHS.
But this isn’t the best option for everyone. For example, some IMGs are simply not in a position to migrate to the UK for internship as they need to complete a pre-graduate internship before they are awarded their medical degree. Or some IMGs need to save up money first before they can on the whole PLAB journey and many do this during or after internship.
For most IMGs, there will be a gap of up to a year or more between graduating and starting FY1 due to the timing of applications.
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether this gap is worth it or not.
To be fair, this one-year gap is really just a blip in an otherwise long medical career that will not affect your future progression in any way.
Important points for IMGs
If you graduated from a medical school outside the EU or the UK, then you need to pass PLAB regardless of your nationality. Yes, this now includes EU nationals.
Due to changes in immigration rules in October 2019, IMGs will now be given equal opportunity to apply for the Foundation Programme. This has confirmed by the UKFP office for 2021.
You do not need to have right to work in the UK before you apply. You will attain right to work by the time you start the Foundation Programme because you will be sponsored. The Certificate of Sponsorship or COS is usually issued around 2-3 months before the start of FY1 so you can use it to apply for your work visa.
With this visa, you can bring over any dependants from overseas. Dependants mean your spouse and any children below the age of 18. Parents and siblings cannot be brought over as dependants.
All IMGs will need to provide proof of English proficiency regardless of nationality. The UK FP only accepts the following as evidence of English proficiency:
- IELTS with a minimum of 7.5 in all sections, OR
- OET Medicine with a minimum score of 400 in all sections, OR
- Dean’s statement confirming that your medical degree was taught and examined solely in English, and more than 75% of clinical interactions were also conducted in English. (This is only valid if your school is not the list on this page)
These cut-off scores are higher than the GMC requirements. So if you’re planning to apply for UKFP, you’d better start preparing for that English test!
Please take note that the UKFP will accept either the General or Academic IELTS this year, but starting next year they will only accept the Academic version.
There is no age limit to apply for the Foundation Programme. Provided you meet all the eligibility criteria, you can apply at any age.
If you qualified before 7th August 2022, then you will be required to sit the Clinical Assessment. This is the same for both UK and international medical graduates. The Clinical Assessment is a practical exam quite similar to PLAB 2, however passing PLAB 2 does not exempt you from the Clinical Assessment.
How to apply as an IMG
There are two main phases of applying for the UK Foundation Programme as an International Medical Graduate.
Stage 1. Eligibility application
This is when the UKFP assess whether or not you are eligible to apply for FY1. Eligibility checking takes place one year in advance. So if you want to apply for UKFP 2024, you need to submit an online application through the website Oriel between 4th July 2023 to 25th August 2023 12:00 BST.
You can find the official guidance for eligibility applications here:
Stage 2. Application for UKFP
You’ll find out on in August 2023 whether or not you are eligible to apply for UKFP.
- If you are deemed eligible, then you need to submit your online application the website Oriel in September 2023. The exact date is yet to be confirmed.
- If it’s decided that you’re not eligible, you’ll have a chance to appeal that outcome before a final decision is made.
How to submit your application for eligibility checking
Applications for eligibility must be submitted online through the Oriel website. You will be asked to complete an online application form and upload your supporting documents.
The eligibility application window will open on 4th July 2023. All applications must be submitted by 25th July 2023 12:00 BST.
Make sure you know all the other requirements for GMC so you make the deadline.
Please take note that these times are very strict. Late applications will not be considered under any circumstances.
What you need when you submit your application for eligibility checking
- Proof of ID
- Signed Dean’s statement
- Proof of English proficiency
What can be submitted after eligibility checking
- Passing your medical school final exams
- Your medical degree certificate
- PLAB 1 & PLAB 2
- Proof of provisional GMC registration
Deadlines for the other requirements
These requirements do not need to be ready or submitted during the eligibility checking period. They can be submitted after, but you have to submit them by the deadline or your application will be rejected.
|Passing your medical school final exams||3rd October 2023||If you have not yet qualified from medical school, your Dean’s statement must state that you will qualify by 5th October 2021 at the latest. (Qualify means you pass your final exams, not when you attend your graduation ceremony.)|
|PLAB 1 booking||12th September 2023 12:00 BST||You must submit proof of booking PLAB 1 by this date.|
|PLAB 1||2nd November 2023||This is the last PLAB 1 date you can sit if you want to start FY1 in August 2024. If you do not book a place on this date, then you will not be able to proceed with your FP application.|
|PLAB 2 booking||13th February 2024||You must submit proof of booking PLAB 2 by this date.|
|PLAB 2||31st May 2024||This is the last PLAB 2 date you can sit if you want to start FY1 in August 2024. If you do not book a place on this date, then you will not be able to proceed with your FP application.|
|Provisional GMC registration||5th July 2024||The is the latest date to submit application for registration with GMC.|
How to maximise your application score
*This section is due to be updated when the new guidance is published.*
Each application to FY1 is scored out of 100. 50 points are allocated to the Situation Judgement Test (SJT), and 50 to the Educational Performance Measure (EPM).
To maximise your score, you need to:
- Do well on the Situational Judgement Test (up to 50 points)
- Be in the top of your class in medical school (34-43 points)
- Publish peer-reviewed articles with a PubMed ID (up to 2 points)
- Complete an additional degree, if feasible (up to 5 points)
What’s this Situational Judgement Test?
The Situational Judgement test (SJT) makes up half the application score for FY1 so it’s really important to do well in it. All FY1 applicants must sit the SJT. There is no exception.
The SJT is a computer-based test designed to assess your professional judgement in situations you may possibly encounter as an FY1 doctor.
Essentially you are scored by how well you can demonstrate the desirable characteristics and attributes of a GMC registered professional. Such attributes include team-working, integrity, and empathy.
Here’s an example of a question that you might encounter in the SJT:
How to maximise your application score
To be honest, we don’t know anymore. The UKFP has abolished the previous scoring system for this year. This means there will no Situational Judgement Test (SJT), and there no points will be awarded for academic performance in medical school.
In it’s place, will be a computer-generated rank, and an algorithm that will try to place as many people in their top preference as possible. How this is going to work exactly, remains to be seen.
Mrs Jenson has arthritis and works in the pharmaceutical industry. She appears very well informed about her arthritis medication. She tells you that she can show you evidence that using double the recommended dose of her current medication will be safe for her and will allow her to return to her job more quickly. She asks you to prescribe to her double the recommended dose.
Rank in order the appropriateness of the following actions in response to this situation (1= Most appropriate; 5= Least appropriate).
- Advise Mrs Jenson that if she chooses to self-administer the double dose she is going against medical advice
- Tell Mrs Jenson that you cannot prescribe more than the recommended dose without senior consultation
- Ask your consultant to speak with Mrs Jenson
- Ask Mrs Jenson to show you the evidence that she cites
- Seek advice from the ward pharmacist
For more examples of questions, check out these official SJT practice papers.
SJT preparation material
- GMC Good Medical Practice (GMP) – The official GMC professional code of conduct for doctors.
- GMC GMP in action – Online exercises on how the GMP should be applied in various situations.
- Get ahead! The SJT – Quite popular on UK medical student forums, many people have found it really helpful. You can get your copy on Amazon here.
- 250 SJT questions – A book by ISC, authors of the well-known Medical Interview book which helped me ace my first NHS interview. I love their content which is why I’m recommending this book. Get your copy here on Amazon.
The UK Foundation Programme is a 2-year programme for new medical graduates and is ideal for IMGs who have not yet completed internship. You will most likely have to sit PLAB and pass an English test with high scores.
Applications are in 2 phases: eligibility checking (July 2023) and the proper application (September 2023). Late applications will not be accepted under any circumstances so be sure to understand the requirements very carefully.
If you have already completed internship, read our article on the best first jobs in the UK to see what an ideal first job in the UK would be for you.