The Savvy IMG

Pathway F: From IMG to UK doctor (returning from a long career gap)

Step-by-step guide for IMGs who aim work in the UK without becoming a UK-recognised GP or Consultant.

Table of Contents

This pathway is suitable for you as an IMG in the UK if you fit the following profile:

If you think you do not fit this profile or the pathway doesn’t sound right for you, make sure to go through the pathway finder tool!

step by step guide for international medical graduates who have a long career gap pathway F

By this point you will have probably read all about these steps before. I have provided links back to the accompanying blog articles and official websites below for each substep. Make sure you check the most up-to-date version of the official websites before taking action. Good luck on your journey!

Step 1. Obtain full registration with the GMC

Substeps Relevant articles and links to official guidance
Obtain evidence of English proficiency Read more about the English requirements in this blog article. Go through the blog FAQs about IELTS and OET. If you will not be taking PLAB, read about the types of alternative evidence accepted to demonstrate English proficiency. Review the GMC guidance about the English requirements.
Open account with GMC online Open your account here. Check the total costs of GMC registration here. This pertains to the PLAB route.
PLAB 1 & 2 + UK visitor visa if needed Read this article for all the essentials about PLAB 1 & 2.  Book PLAB 1 online through your GMC account. For PLAB 2 it’s best to enrol in an academy to prepare. These are the 15 things you should consider when looking for one. If you book PLAB in the UK, you’ll need to apply for a UK Visitor Visa. If you are an EU national who graduated outside the EU, you may not need to sit PLAB. Please contact the GMC for further guidance. If you are a UK national who graduated outside the EU, you still need to sit PLAB.
As an alternative to PLAB you can submit an accepted Postgraduate Qualification (PGQ) Check the accepted Postgraduate Qualifications here. These include both UK and overseas qualifications.
Obtain other documents for GMC registration Step-by-step guide on how to obtain EPIC verification of your Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ) and Postgraduate Qualification (PGQ). You will need a certificate or letter from the hospital where you completed your internship or postgraduate experience. The letter must contain the dates and specialties of all your clinical rotations. GMC requirements for the Certificate of Good Standing (if applicable). You may be asked for documents relating to your career gap. For example if you have completed a Masters degree you will need to provide evidence of this. You can clarify what type of documents you need to submit with the GMC.
Apply for GMC full registration This is done online through your GMC account. You may need to submit some documents by post. All documents are valid for a certain time period only. Read about the deadlines here.

Step 2. Optional clinical attachment

Consider arranging a clinical attachment. This will be an unpaid observership post. Another option is to find work in the NHS in a non-medical capacity. This can be as a Health Care Assistant (HCA) or Clinical Assistant.

The idea here is to familiarise yourself with how the NHS works and help you regain confidence in your medical knowledge. This also demonstrates to future employers that you have the initiative and motivation to re-enter the workforce.

SubstepsRelevant articles and links to official guidance
Find a clinical attachment programmeFuture article
Apply for UK visitor visa if neededUK Visitor Visa
Continuous study about modern NHS medical managementMedicine is constantly changing. Knowledge and practice from 10 years ago may now be obsolete or completely disproven. Always work on updating your knowledge and skills.

Step 3. Land first NHS job

If you have a long career gap, I strongly advise that your first job be a very junior position. This is safest for both you and patients. You can then work your way up to your previous level. This is not absolutely necessary however. It is really up to you. 

Just remember: the GMC expects that as a doctor you will assess yourself honestly, recognise the limits of your competence, and make a decision based on what’s best for patients.

SubstepsRelevant articles and links to official guidance
Open account on NHS Jobs websiteNHS Jobs
Submit job applications for FY1/FY2 level or SHO level jobsUnderstand the different titles and levels of doctors here.
Prepare for interviewFuture article
Accept a suitable offerFuture article
Apply for Tier 2 (work) visa if neededTier 2 (work) visa
Join a trade union and obtain medical indemnity cover

Read about what these are in this article about the different UK organisations

Article on how to find medical indemnity cover will be published in the future.

Step 4. Optional progression to GP or Consultant

If you decide you want to become a GMC recognised GP or Consultant at any point, you can. Please refer to step 3 & 4 of Pathway B (CCT route), Pathway C (CESR-CP route), or Pathway D (CESR route).

You can compare the three routes and what they mean in this article about Career Options for IMGs in the UK.

You might also like

4 Responses

  1. I’m an IMG ( still in my country) interested in working in the UK, however I’m yet to write plab 1 and 2.
    Would it be possible to apply for jobs and work in the NHS as a clinical assistant or HCA and while working write plab 1 and 2.

  2. I’m an IMG ( still in my country) interested in working in the UK, however I’m yet to write plab 1 and 2.
    Would it be possible to apply for jobs and work in the NHS as a clinical assistant or HCA and while working write plab 1 and 2.

    1. Hi Dr, it seems the new skilled work visa may allow you to come to the UK as a HCA. You could try this, no harm in trying. Let us know how it goes! Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Meet the Team

Hi, we’re Drs Nick & Kimberly Tan, the two IMGs behind The Savvy IMG. We write comprehensive guides, create courses, and provide one-to-one guidance to help other overseas qualified doctors on their journey to the UK.
We have scoured the official guidance to put these posts together, but we can make mistakes! If you spot anything that is incorrect, please get in touch and we’ll put it right.
Photo of Dr Nicholas Tan