Considering practicing medicine in the U.K. after completing your medical education? Before you can practice, you will need to meet the General Medical Council’s (GMC) postgraduate education requirements. Below we outline what the GMC requires and how you can meet such requirements no matter where you obtained your medical education.
The General Medical Council
The General Medical Council is the organization in charge of ensuring medical practitioners in the U.K. are registered and able to provide medical care to the public. The organization has been an essential facet of healthcare in the U.K. with roots dating back to the 1800s. Like the American Council for Graduate Medical Education, which oversees postgraduate education within the U.S., the GMC sets the standards for all levels of medical education in the U.K.
Foreign Postgraduate Experience Accepted by the GMC
Depending on where or how you received your postgraduate education, your credentials may fit the GMC’s requirements. Generally, the GMC will accept postgraduate training from other countries as long as it’s a minimum of one year long, contains both surgical and medical curriculum, and was completed upon graduation from medical school with no gaps in between.
You might be wondering what is considered a “gap” or how much experience in surgery is needed. Because of how vague the conditions are, it can be difficult for internationally trained physicians to determine if their postgraduate education is sufficient. For this reason, many choose to contact the GMC directly. Because they set the rules they are the best determiners of them.
Post Graduate Medical Education in the U.K.
If your postgraduate education does not meet the GMC’s standards or you have not yet participated in postgraduate training, you may elect to participate in their Foundation Program (FP). The Foundation Program is a two-year postgraduate experience in which participants elevate their medical skills and knowledge while working. The focus of the FP is to teach medical graduates how to become general practitioners. Patient safety and professionalism are critical components of the curriculum.
Applying to the Foundation Program
The process of getting into the FP varies based on an individual’s education. If you obtained your medical degree in the U.K. or EU, you can enter the FP through referral. If you have a degree from another country you will need to apply for the program. The process of applying includes many steps, the first of which are as follows:
- First, you will need to create an account with the GMC on their website, which you can find out more about here.
- Once you have created a GMC account, you will need to apply directly to the foundation program. To do so, you will need to create an Oriel account and upload the required application documents. These include an ID, Dean’s Letter, and an IELTS score or proof that your medical education was conducted in English. These items must be submitted before August of the year you plan to begin your FP.
- If your eligibility has been accepted, you will then be able to apply to the FP program. Applications should be submitted through Oriel.
Similar to the National Resident Matching Program in the U.S., not everyone who applies gets into the U.K.’s FP.
Requirements to Participate in the Foundation Program
While waiting to find out if you are accepted into the FP, you will need to complete several exams. These tests will determine if you are fit to work in the healthcare industry as the FP is a work-study experience. Applicants must pass the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board test (PLAB), obtain a visa, take the Situational Judgement Test, and confirm that they are eligible to work in the U.K.
Once you completed the above, you will need to register with the GMC. IMGs who have not yet participated in an internship or postgraduate experience can obtain provisional registration through the GMC by passing the PLAB. Those who have participated in postgraduate training in a country outside of the U.K. will need to register as a specialist.
Once you’ve completed these steps and are accepted in an FP, you can begin your two-year training experience. This program will become the basis for your future in medicine.
Are you a medical graduate considering a future with the U.K.’s medical system?