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How to Japa to the UK as a Medical Doctor

The right information is not just power; it’s the push you need to make your relocation dreams a reality. Looking for information on how to become a doctor in the UK is just one of the many steps you’ll take in your relocation journey. Starting the journey is another matter entirely and at that point, the wrong information can be very harmful. This article is to serve as a complete checklist filled with the right information and designed to help inform your decisions throughout your relocation process.

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Reasons why you might want to practice medicine in the UK

Easier Practice

Simply put, it’s medicine made easy. Technology takes away some of the burden of practice, and regular research means that recommendations get updated from time to time. Patients can afford healthcare because most people have access to universal healthcare. This is by the tax-funded national health service. When the practice is good, you’ll get better results and more fulfillment.

Complete Training

In the UK, if you’re training to become a general practitioner, you’d have to play by the book. You’d go through three years of housemanship spent rotating between hospital departments. At the end, you’d feel really confident in your abilities. When there are things you cannot handle, there’s always a more experienced person to call on. This makes the synergy between health workers efficient and worthwhile.

Proper Remuneration

While the UK is not the most lucrative country to practice medicine in, you would still have a very comfortable lifestyle. Plus, you’d definitely find jobs in the UK because there is a high demand for doctors there.

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Doctors’ Titles in the UK

There are some doctors titles/roles that you need to be familiar with. They are;

FY1-This is the 1st year of foundation year training. Medical students start this after graduation.

FY2-second year of foundation training. Here, medical students will gain further experience.

F3-This is a gap year they may take before going into specialty training.

A Junior Doctor: This refers to any doctor that is still in training and therefore not a consultant.

Consultant: This refers to the most senior doctors who have completed their full training in a medical specialty and are listed on the GMC‘s specialist register.

Locum Doctors: These are doctors working through agencies, filling temporary vacancies and shifts in clinical settings.

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UK Doctors’ Annual Salaries in 2022

Here are the different doctor pay grades in the UK:

Doctors in training;

Here you’d earn a basic salary as well as additional pay for any hours over 40 per week. In foundation training, you will earn a basic salary of £29,384 to £34,012.

Specialty doctors;

The starting salary ranges from £50,373 to £78,759.

Consultants;

Consultants earn a basic salary of £84,559 to £114,003 per year. Consultants can also supplement their salary by working in private practice if they wish.

General practitioners;

GPs earn a basic salary of £60,455 to £91,228.

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How to Become a Doctor in the UK

There are four main ways you can japa to the UK as a medical doctor.

PLAB

PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board) is a qualifying examination that doctors take to prove that they have the right knowledge and skills to practice medicine in the UK.

Relocating through Masters

You’d still write PLAB here, but while studying in the UK.

The Specialist Route

If you have finished your residency training in Nigeria and are seeking to be registered to practice as a specialist doctor in the UK, It does not require PLAB.

The MTI Route

People in residency training use this route to come work in the UK using an arrangement the colleges have with the Royal Colleges. It’s quite challenging and only given to a few people yearly.

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A step-by-step guide to practicing medicine in the UK

Confirming your qualifications with the General Medical Council

In the UK, the main employer is the National Health Service (NHS), run by the UK government. The regulatory body is the General Medical Council (GMC).

If you were educated outside the UK, it’s necessary to confirm if your medical qualification is accepted by the General Medical Council(GMC). You would need to check your university in the world directory of medical schools. When you find your university, you should check the qualifications the GMC does not currently accept by going on the website.

English language proficiency tests

When you’re sure that you’re eligible to practice in the UK, you’d need to take an English proficiency test. To write PLAB, you need to have a medical degree and proof of English language competence.

IELTS

Your international passport is required for IELTS registration.

You’d need to pass the IELTS academic version with a score of at least 7.5 in total and at least 7 in each of the bands. IELTS is valid for 2 years, so you should have finished with PLAB within that time.

In Nigeria, the test is conducted by the British Council with centres around the country. It cost about 75,000 NGN.

OET

There are also OET tests; they rate your ability to communicate in English in a healthcare setting. They are both accepted by the GMC. OET costs about 150,000 NGN.

PLAB

There are two parts to this: PLAB 1 and PLAB 2. PLAB 1 is in the multiple choice question (MCQ) format and can be taken in Nigeria, while PLAB 2 is in the OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) format and is done in the UK.

PLAB 1

In Nigeria, the exam is held thrice a year; in November, June, and March. There are centers in Lagos, Abuja, and also in Enugu. It takes about 6 weeks and costs about £239, which equates to about 121,339 NGN.

It covers basic medical sciences, clinical sciences, and ethics. It’s a 3-hour examination consisting of 180 (Single Best Answer SBA) questions in a multiple-choice format. The pass mark usually varies, but it usually falls in the 120-126 score range, about 60-62%. There are many popular online materials you can use, including the Oxford Handbook of Medicine and Patients, Plabable, Samson Notes, etc.

PLAB 2

This is an objective-structured clinical examination(OSCE). This second and final part is usually taken at the GMC building in Manchester, United Kingdom.

It consists of 18 clinical stations, with each station lasting 8 minutes. In total, the exam lasts for 3 hours. Each station is scored for 12 points. Furthermore, the maximum score achievable in Plab 2 is 216 marks. You must generally pass at least 11 stations out of 18 to be successful.

It focuses on your ability to deal with general issues seen by a UK-trained medical doctor who is yet to begin their foundation year two program. It assesses your abilities in data gathering, clinical management, and interpersonal skills.

It costs £875, which is about 443,950 NGN.

You’re supposed to do your PLAB 2 within two years of completing your PLAB 1, so you should have your money down for a trip to the UK.

Online GMC registration.

Before anything else, you need to have GMC registration with a license to practice. You can apply for “provisional registration,” “full registration,” “general practitioner registration,” or “specialist registration.” The credentials you present to the GMC will determine which path your registration will take.

Provisional registration is also given to medical graduates who gain GMC registration through the PLAB route and have postgraduate experience, but their experience does not meet the GMC requirements for an acceptable pattern of internship. Most Nigerian doctors go through this route.

The following are essential documents that you must submit:

  • An acceptable primary medical qualification that is pre-verified.
  • An acceptable period of internship or experience.
  • An IELTS or OET passing certificate.
  • A Certificate of Good Standing from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. 
  • Details of all your medical and non-medical activities for the last 5 years, including unemployment, maternity leave, study leave, career breaks, clinical attachments, and vacation. 
  • GMC’s application

You will usually start the registration process on the GMC website, where you’ll pay the fees, and then you’ll book an appointment at GMC for a check of your documents.

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Finding a Job in the UK

After your GMC registration, you look for jobs.

But there are a number of other places you can try—for example,

The NHS -the national health service covering England and Wales.

NHS Scotland -the national health service covering Scotland.

Health and social care in Northern Ireland

British Medical Journal – Employment Section

Doctors.net -an online professional network for doctors.

These sites will also give you an idea of the types of jobs available.

You would need a work visa(tier 2) to be able to work in the UK. The trust that offers you a job will become your sponsor, and they will produce your Certificate of Sponsorship. You will be given a COS number by your trust to be used on your visa.

You’d attend your visa interview, get the visa, and you’re well on your way. This concludes the steps on how to become a doctor in the UK.

Traveling to the UK for PLAB 2 exams 

Like we earlier discussed, you’d need to travel to the UK on a visitor’s visa for your PLAB 2 exams. You should travel a month before the exams to enable you to plan adequately. You should also make adequate plans for accommodation. The most important document will be what they may ask for at immigration to justify your visit.

Traveling to the UK for work on a Tier 2 Visa

Once you’ve gotten a job in hand, the next thing would be to find yourself a suitable place to live. If you’re not lucky enough to get hospital accommodation, you might need to rent accommodation in the UK. You’d also need to set up a bank account as soon as possible, ideally with the help of your HR department.

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Final Notes

If you have ever wondered how to become a doctor in the UK, this article is for you. The relocation process for a medical doctor looking to move to the UK can be long and unwinding. That’s why getting the right information is necessary to ensure that every necessary step is taken in the proper order.

I hope you find this article informative and easy to read. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. You can also join Setlinn for more information on everything you need to know about working, living, and schooling abroad.

Best wishes on your relocation journey.

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