How to Become a Doctor in the UK: GMC Registration for EU Medical Graduates
Graduating from a medical school in the European Union (EU) is an impressive achievement, which opens doors to a rich array of opportunities. One of the most popular choices among graduates is becoming a doctor in the United Kingdom (UK).
However, if you intend to practise medicine in the UK, you must first navigate the process of registering with the General Medical Council (GMC).
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about GMC registration while also providing a comprehensive guide for EU medical graduates.
Let’s get right into it.
What is the GMC?
The General Medical Council is the regulatory body that is responsible for overseeing and maintaining the standards of medical practice and education in the United Kingdom. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety, competency, and professionalism of healthcare practitioners, with the goal of safeguarding the health and well-being of patients.
The main functions and responsibilities of the GMC include, but are not limited to:
- Licensing and registration
- Overseeing the quality of education and training programmes across the UK
- Assessing the qualifications of international medical graduates
- Setting professional and ethical standards
- Evaluating a doctor’s fitness to practise
- Providing ethical guidance to healthcare practitioners
Types of GMC Registrations
Before starting your registration, it is crucial to learn what types of registrations are available so you can know which is the right one for you. Every medical practitioner in the UK is required to possess one of these forms of registration, accompanied by a valid licence to practise medicine.
The different types of registrations are based on the stage of your medical career, the type of medical qualifications you hold, and whether you have completed additional assessments or training. They are as follows:
- Provisional registration - enables doctors to work in an approved UK Foundation Year 1 (F1) post. F1 is the first year of supervised medical practice that newly qualified doctors take part in after completing their medical degrees.
- Full registration - allows doctors to work in an unsupervised medical practice or enrol in an approved UK Foundation Year 2 (F2) position.
- Specialist registration - gives doctors the opportunity to accept professional appointments with any fixed term and to take up consultant positions within the National Health Service (NHS) or private practice.
- GP registration - If a doctor possesses a specialist registration or has training in general practice, they can apply to join the register of General Practitioners in the UK.
Suppose you’ve just graduated from a European medical school. In that case, you will more than likely need to either apply for a provisional or full registration, depending on your experience, knowledge, and skills. The minimum requirement for full registration is a 12-month continuous medical practice internship.
Requirements for GMC Registration
Although the specific requirements for each registration vary slightly, generally, you will need the following:
- Provide evidence of your relevant EU medical qualification. You will need to send in a copy and translate it if it’s not issued in English. A minimum of 5,500 clock hours are required to be eligible to register with the GMC.
- Send evidence of your internships and/or clinical training.
- If necessary, take the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB), which is the international graduate equivalent of the UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) exams. These exams are designed to assess a graduate’s knowledge and skill to practise in the UK safely.
International doctors who are currently taking PLAB will follow the same process. However, from 2024 onwards, the test will match the MLA requirements and will be replaced by the UKMLA.
Typically, EU graduates automatically qualify for GMC registration and don’t need to sit the PLAB exams. However, from 2024 onward, they will need to take part in the UKMLA test.
- Pass an English-language proficiency test such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Occupational English Test (OET) to show that you can communicate freely in English.
This doesn’t apply if you’re a native English speaker or if you’ve graduated from a country where English is the native language.
- Send a copy of your passport or ID card. For passports, the photo ID and signature pages are enough.
- Submit a certificate of good standing from every medical regulatory body with which you have been registered or licensed within the past five years.
- Provide details about your activities in the last 5 years, including both medical and non-medical experience. Examples of activities you need to provide are clinical attachments, unemployment, maternity leave, study leave, vacation, breaks in practice, etc.
- Declare your fitness to practise - This consists of 10 questions about your health and fitness to practise medicine.
The GMC asks all applicants to be honest in their application, which includes making a declaration that the provided information is true. All of the information can and will be checked, so keeping it truthful and concise will be a great benefit to your application.
Step-by-step Guide for Registering with the GMC
Now that we’ve covered the types of registrations and all the necessary requirements, let’s explore all the steps you need to take in order to register as a doctor and start practising in the UK.
Step 1. Graduate and get your medical qualifications.
Step 2. Make sure you meet all the requirements.
Step 3. Take the PLAB tests if needed.
Step 4. Take the IELTS English language proficiency test or similar, if needed.
Step 5. Apply online and provide all the necessary evidence and/or documents (application will be assessed within 5 days).
Step 6. Make the payment. As of April 2023, the fee for provisional registration for new applicants is £25, whereas a full registration costs £166.
Step 7. Provide any further evidence and/or documents if asked.
Step 8. If no further evidence is required, then the application is complete. In this case, you will be sent an invitation for an ID check.
For the ID check, you will need to provide the originals, copies, and translations of any documents that you’ve submitted. The GMC requires that you complete your ID check within 6 months of receiving your invitation and recommends doing it as soon as possible.
The ID check can be done either via an app or in the GMC office in London in person.
For applicants that have passed the PLAB 2 test, you will have already gone through an ID check, so you will be able to skip Step 8.
There’s no way around it - if you want to become a doctor in the UK, you will need to register with the GMC. However, the process to do so becomes simpler and more streamlined every year, and we are certain that with this guide, your registration process will be smooth and enjoyable.
If you want to make sure that your medical education is GMC compliant, the best thing you can do is contact one of our expert advisors, who can help you pick out the best European university that will suit your needs and ambitions.
All students who have embarked on their medical journey with Medlink Students get our full support and guidance when going through their GMC registration. We possess an in-depth understanding of the GMC’s criteria and can ensure that every step is completed correctly so that you can start practising in the UK as soon as possible.
1. Do I need to take any additional exams to register with the GMC?
If you have a relevant EU medical qualification, you won’t need to sit the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exams. However, starting from 2024, EU graduates will need to take the UK Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA).
2. Which form of GMC registration is necessary to enter foundation training?
A provisional registration is enough to begin your foundation training in the UK.
3. I already have clinical experience; which GMC registration should I apply for?
If you’ve got at least 12 months of experience through internships, you may be eligible for a full registration. The best way to make sure is to have the GMC assess your qualifications and experience through their online portal.
4. Do I need to take an English proficiency test to register with the GMC?
Native speakers and graduates coming from countries where English is the native language won’t need to take an English proficiency test. However, if you’re neither of these, you will need to take the IELTS or similar English test within 2 years of your GMC registration.
5. After completing my application, how do I complete my identity check with the GMC?
There are 2 ways to do this: either through the app or in person in the GMC office in London. You will need to bring the originals, copies, and translations of all documents.
The identity check must be completed within 6 months of completing your application and getting invited.
6. Is the GMC identity check app secure?
All the information you submit on the app will be completely safe, as none of it will be stored there. Your information will be available only to you and will be accessible through a secure PIN.
7. How long will the application to register with the GMC take?
Typically, your information will be checked within 5 days of submitting it. However, if you need to submit any further evidence and/or documents, it may take between 10-20 days.
8. How much does it cost to apply for GMC registration as a new applicant?
As of April 2023, new applicants are charged a fee of £25 for provisional registration, while a full registration costs £166.
9. Can I apply for GMC registration if I have completed medical education outside of the EU?
Yes, you can apply for GMC registration if you've completed medical education outside of the EU. The specific requirements and pathways may differ, and you might need to pass the PLAB or UKMLA exams, depending on your qualifications.
10. Is GMC registration a one-time process?
No, GMC registration is an ongoing process. You'll need to renew your registration annually and provide updated information as needed.
11. Can I skip the GMC registration if I already have a medical licence from another country?
You'll still need to go through the GMC registration process to practise medicine in the UK. Having a licence from another country doesn't automatically grant you GMC registration.
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