The Savvy IMG

Your questions about the new UK Shortage Occupation List answered

The immigration barriers that once made it difficult for IMGs to enter UK specialty training in competitive fields have just been removed! Find out how this affects you.

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Questions about the UK shortage occupation list and specialty training and NHS jobs from International medical graduate overseas doctors answered

Updated: April 16, 2020

Following our recent post 9 ways the new Shortage Occupation List affects IMGs dreaming of UK specialty training, we’ve received tons of new visitors and lots of questions. 

In this post we want to answer your questions, and point you in the direction of the other useful posts on this website that will help you on your journey to the UK.

Yes, IMGs can now apply for the UK Foundation Programme and be considered equally with UK graduates.

Related: UK internship (Foundation Programme) open to all IMGs for 2020

Yes, these changes include all non-training posts, at any level, in any specialty.

This means all the job titles listed in this article are included.

You can apply for non-training jobs through the NHS jobs website.

The requirements for GMC registration have not changed. You still need to take PLAB or an equivalent accepted exam to gain GMC registration before you can work in the UK.

Yes, these changes include all training posts, at any level, in any specialty (except Public Health) including core training and higher specialty training.

Not sure how specialty training (residency) works in the UK? Check out our guide to UK specialty training for complete beginners.

Yes, with these rules you can still apply in Round 2. However, bear in mind the following:

  • Specialties that have openings in CT1/ST1 only have a Round 2 if there are vacancies leftover from Round 1. If there are no vacancies leftover from Round 1, then there will not be a Round 2.
  • Specialties that have openings in ST3/ST4 generally do not have a Round 1, applications start from Round 2. You can now apply directly in Round 2 and according to current rules, you will be considered equally alongside UK graduates.

According to the new rules, no. All applicants will now be considered equally on the basis of their application.

The only exception so far is Public Health. We also do not yet know about the Foundation Programme / FY1.

Have a read of this article for a full breakdown of what is involved. After that, please read the 2020 Applicant Handbook for the complete official guidance which you can download from here.

A step-by-step guide for those who have completed internship and are seeking ST1 or CT1 training posts can be found here in Pathway B.

A step-by-step guide for those seeking ST3 or ST4 training posts can be found here in Pathway C.

You can find the specific requirements for each specialty in the person specifications.

However, in general, these are the requirements to be eligible to apply:

For a first-year position (ST1 or CT1)

  • Valid CREST 2020 form (previous versions of CREST will no longer be accepted)
  • 12 months post-internship experience by the time you start ST1 or CT1
  • Full GMC registration by the time you start ST1 or CT1

Please note that NHS experience is not a requirement to apply but is hugely beneficial. Starting your first job in a training post is challenging and can have negative effects on your career progression if you stumble.  

Please also note that you can be overqualified for an ST1/CT1 post if you have too much experience in the same specialty you are applying for. You can read more about this here.

For a position in higher specialty training (ST3 or ST4)

  • Relevant postgraduate exams (eg. MRCS, MRCP, MRCOG Part 1 etc.)
  • Clinical experience
    • Evidenced by time spent in clinical practice (in the UK or overseas) and/or a portfolio of your clinical skills and knowledge
  • Alternative certificate of competence relevant to that specialty or equivalent

Again, you can find the specific requirements for each specialty for that specialty and level in the person specifications.

Related: What IMGs need to know about applications to specialty training (residency) in the UK

No, applications for specialty training are done through the website Oriel, not through the NHS jobs website.

You can find the link to Oriel including the user guide and Oriel FAQs here.

A portfolio is essentially a folder that contains all the documentation of your professional achievements.

Professional achievements can include areas such as additional degrees, research, teaching experience, quality improvement, presentations, publications, prizes etc.

The general rule is: analyse the person specifications for the specialty you want to apply for, research the scoring criteria, and develop your portfolio accordingly. 

These are our general tips on improving your application to UK specialty training.  If you need step-by-step guidance in doing this, check out the IMG Masterclass.


Kimberly recommends the E-medica SRA Crammer course which helped her score well and get her Ophthalmology job in London. Use the code Savvyimg for £20 off the MSRA Crammer Course.

The best places to look for more information are the official websites. You can find a list of links to the official websites here.

Check out our FAQ page for the common questions about coming to the UK as an IMG are answered. 

Of course! We love answering your questions! You can send us a question here.

But do keep in mind that if your question is already answered on this page or on the FAQ page, we’ll direct you back to the website.

Posts to be updated

Due to these immigration rule changes, we will need to update several articles on our website. Just so you’re aware of what needs to be amended, here’s a list of affected posts:

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in the article above. This means that at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a booking or purchase by clicking on the link. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves or have proven success amongst IMGs.

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2 Responses

  1. What are the adv and disadv of applying for NHS post directly through Oriel?
    What are the adv and disadv of applying for NHS post through a recruitment agency/consultant?

    1. Oriel is only for training posts. We do not recommend posts through Oriel as a 1st jobs except standalone FY2 or WAST which are entry level jobs for those who have completed internship and have not completed any postgraduate residency. For non-training posts, you need to apply on NHS jobs. You can apply to any job you want, in any region or specialty but you have handle all the paperwork and negotiations on salary, relocation etc yourself. Agencies tend to have limited job options but they can do all the negotiation and paperwork on your behalf.

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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.
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