Parent’s UK Visit Visa

This blog is written as guidance to the IMG doctors who wish to apply for their parent’s visit visa. This is based on my experience, but please note I am not an immigration expert just someone with first hand experience. 

Background:

I have been living in UK for over 15 years & applied for my mother’s visit visa at least 5 times successfully. 

Me & my wife are both doctors. I am a Psychiatrist and my wife us working as a GP. My mother is a retired college teacher living in Pakistan & my father has passed away. 

We have never used a solicitor but we have always prepared the case with many documents to cover every aspect we believe the entry clearance officer would like to know.

The main areas to cover as we saw it were to show

  • Our professional status and financial stability in the UK including accommodation.
  • Clear purpose of the visit.
  • Mother’s financial status and links in Pakistan.

Documents prepared from my mother’s side:

We do not sponsor my mother as she has her own sources of income & is not financially dependent on us. So we just write an invitation letter stating the reasons why she is visiting clearly. 

Her documents aims to show her financial condition and links in Pakistan.

  • Evidence of my mother’s sources of income 
    • Pension from government 
    • Agriculture land 
    • House she just rented out 
    • Saving bonds & interest on savings 
  • My mother’s bank statements 
    • Saving & current accounts showing money going in & coming out. 
  • My Mother’s property Documents (copies) – helps to show links in Pakistan
    • House,
    • Agriculture land,
    • Plots bought as investment.
  • My mother strong links in Pakistan.
    • Clearly describing in application or letter that she has another son living in Pakistan & grandchildren along with her own brothers & sisters. 
  • Travel history of going abroad on short trips. 
    • This helps to show she has travelled before and retuned to Pakistan.

If your parents are not financially independent, that’s alright. You can show how they are meeting their everyday needs, show if others children are supporting them and you can sponsor them and clearly say in application and your supporting letter that you will be funding their visit.

Documents prepared from our side: 

  • Invitation letter from our side clearly saying why we are inviting her to visit
    • Attending birth of grandchild 
    • Spending time with son & grandchildren.
  • Copies of my & My wife’s passports, NICOPs, our marriage certificate.
  • Letter from hospital HR saying I am fully employed & my salary. 
  • Letter from my wife’s GP surgery stating her status of employment and her salary. 
  • Copy of our 6 months salary slips 
  • Bank statements both of myself & wife. (6 months)
    • Current & Saving accounts. 
  • GMC registration certificates (just to prove we are doctors) 
  • Evidence of our house and accommodation.
    • mortgage documents
    • house ownership documents
  • Survey of house by council officer to confirm the house has enough space to accommodate her.
    • This may not be required in every case but we just did that to make sure her case is strong. You can check your local council website to see if they do immigration house surveys.
    • This is the website of our council Immigration inspections | Newport City Council

If you are renting a house, you can send the rental agreement.

Example of a letter to immigration officer

Dear Entry Clearance officer

This is to confirm that I am inviting my mother to visit us in the UK. The purpose of this visit is for my mother to enjoy a short trip to UK, see her family and spend some time with grand children.

My mother is a retired teacher and financially stable. She is sustaining her own life style and is able to fund this trip from her own sources of income. We are attaching evidence of her of source of income. (List documents)

My mother is well travelled and has been outside Pakistan on various occasions,

(details of travel history of last 5 years)

She has strong links in Pakistan which include her property, sources of income, extended family, brothers, sisters and her other son and his family which include grandchildren in Pakistan.

I am working as a NHS hospital doctor on a consultant post in the UK and my wife is also a doctor working as GP. We are attaching evidence of our finances, accommodation, professional registration and our marriage. We can easily accommodate her and entertain her during this trip.

Documents we are attaching includes. (list)


I hope this was helpful – Best Wishes

GMC Sponsorship Route for International Psychiatrists

In order to work in the UK as a Doctor,  you need GMC registration with a licence to practice.

There are several paths to get GMC registration for the international psychiatrist which include doing PLAB, passing the full MRCPsych exam or the MTI route.

There is another route of sponsorship of GMC registration via an NHS trust which can lead you to get full GMC registration and licence to practice. This route is for more experienced Psychiatrists with at least 2-3 years of experience in Psychiatry.

You still need to pass the English competency exam in order to get GMC registration like OET or IELTS and it is better if you do them before applying for the jobs expecting to get it via this route.

Why would a trust sponsor my registration?

Because there is an acute shortage of psychiatrists in the UK and especially at the middle grade or speciality doctor level. There are many empty vacancies that the trusts are unable to fill for a number of months and even years.

Is the GMC registration via sponsorship route permanent?

Yes, the GMC registration you get will be permanent and you can change the jobs if required. You are not obliged by law to continue working in the place where you were offered the job initially.

Which NHS hospitals or trusts can sponsor my GMC registration?

There is a list on the GMC website of the hospitals approved for the sponsorship application. See the link below for more information.

List of approved sponsoring bodies – GMC (gmc-uk.org)

How should I approach this sponsorship route?

The websites to apply for the jobs in the mainland UK are

NHS jobs (https://www.jobs.nhs.uk)

Trac Jobs (trac.jobs)

NHS Scotland (NHSScotland Jobs | Job Train)

You can make an account on these websites and search for the speciality doctor level posts in Psychiatry.

Clearly explain in your application that you do not have GMC registration at this present stage but you are eligible for the sponsorship route of GMC registration if offered this post.  

What is the likelihood of getting jobs using this way?

I have seen several psychiatrists using this route to get GMC registration and work in the UK.

When you apply, you have to apply widely all across the UK and you will get several rejections for probably a couple of months.

The job recruitment process in the UK work very slow and can take a few months to get short listings for interviews.

Don’t be disheartened with the number of rejections or non-contact by the hospital, you only need to get lucky once. Hopefully, eventually, your application will get to the right place where there will be a shortage and they will be happy to accommodate you.

What is the future of these doctors?

Speciality doctor is not a dead-end job and you will get opportunities for career progression.

You can work long-term on the speciality doctor role and consider applying for the CESR route to get on the specialist register to become a consultant.

You can consider passing MRCPsych exam and applying for ST training in Psychiatry and getting CCT to become a consultant.


Best wishes

GMC Registration via the Sponsorship route

Every time I post a comment about the sponsorship route on the social media platforms, I get tens of messages from international doctors, some of them asking for more information and others sending me their CV to find them jobs.

So I am writing this post to explain what I know about this sponsorship route. Please note, this is just my experience and what I have seen happening, not any official word.

Can I get full GMC registration without PLAB, Membership exams or MTI posts?

Yes, you can by using the sponsorship route and the GMC website has a list of the trust who can sponsor your GMC registration.

You still need to do the English competency exam to get GMC registration.

Check out the link below

https://www.gmc-uk.org/registration-and-licensing/join-the-register/before-you-apply/list-of-approved-sponsoring-bodies

What have you seen happening in practice?

In my experience, the hospitals prefer to employ doctors with GMC registration and this sponsorship route is used by hospitals for specialties, geographical areas and grades where there is an acute shortage of doctors and they can not employ via normal recruitment routes.

This unusually applies to middle-grade level non-training grade positions in specialties like for example psychiatry for experienced doctors in psychiatry.

Some hospitals will run international follow type adverts to employ doctors and they will appear from time to time on the NHS jobs website.

Is the GMC registration permanent when you get it via this route?

Yes, the GMC registration is permanent and when you change the job, you will still be registered. The GMC registration via sponsorship route does not mandate you to only work for that particular employer.

What about the visa type?

Unless the employer uses the MTI route, you should get a Tier-2 visa.

How should I find these posts and how should I apply?

You should look out for these adverts on the NHS jobs website where they are recruiting for example the international fellows. If you are an experienced doctor, you can apply for specialty doctor positions in the NHS using the NHS jobs website or the trac job website but explain clearly in your application that you do not have GMC registration and will require the trust to sponsor your GMC registration if you are successful in the interview stage.

What do you advise?

I normally advise experienced doctors to consider the membership route as it has other advantages as membership not only gives you a stamp of recognition and knowledge but also helps you progress to the training grades.

But there is no harm in trying for the sponsorship route.

Best Wishes

Medical Appraisal – Guide for the IMGs

All doctors in the UK should have an appraisal every year which is part of the revalidation process and requirement to maintain the GMC license to practice.

New IMGs can often get confused with this and are often unaware of the process. IMG on non-training posts often does not get proper guidance or information. This blog aims to explain some basics concepts around medical appraisal.

For the junior doctors in the training posts, their ARCP acts as an appraisal and they don’t need a separate appraisal.

What is Medical Appraisal?

You can consider it an annual review of clinical practice and GMC set it out to be a facilitated self-review of your work and scope of work. It is supported by information gathered on the full scope of a doctor’s work. The medical appraisal can be used for four purposes according to the GMC: 

  1. To enable doctors to discuss their practice and performance with their appraiser in order to demonstrate that they continue to meet the principles and values set out in `Good Medical Practice` and thus to inform the responsible officer’s revalidation recommendation to the GMC.
  1. To enable doctors to enhance the quality of their professional work by planning their professional development.
  1. To enable doctors to consider their own needs in planning their professional development.

 and may also be used 

  1. 4. To enable doctors to ensure that they are working productively and in line with the priorities and requirements of the organisation they practise in.

What does an Appraisal involve?

It is a meeting within a protected time where you sit with a trained colleague who is often a senior doctor in most cases. The appraiser is usually not your line manager but someone independent. The meeting could last for 1-3 hours depending on how it went and how many details were discussed.

You will have the information recorded on one of the online systems to discuss with the appraiser.

What information you need to have or record:

Usually, you need an online account on the appraisal information recording system provided by the NHS trust.

  • A personal development plan
  • Information on the scope of your practice and job plan
  • Your activities in the last 12 months which may include educational, clinical and professional engagements
  • Reflection on any complain or serious incidents.

Different systems are used in the UK to record this information. In Wales, the MARS Appraisal website is used to record both GP and hospital doctors.

What do I put in my appraisal information?

Usually, my appraisal information will include:

  • Personal development plan for the next 12 months, also discussion around what i have achieved in the last 12 months from the last year personal development plan.
  • Scope of practice, and weekly job plan.
  • Reflections which include constraints and limitations of the job.
  • CPD activities which may include courses, training and conferences along with reflection of what I learnt.
  • Academic activities, including teaching, examining, and arranging educational events, research and audits. 
  • Personal development and other professional activities like having a responsibility of clinical + educational supervision, chairing a particular group.
  • Experience of any leadership and management activities.
  • Confidential feedback from patients and colleagues required once every 5 years and collected via an online system.
  • Any complains and serious incidents I was involved in along with reflection.

As a new IMG, you can make a personal development plan for example focused on your clinical and professional development. Your aim may be to pass certain exams, get CREST competencies and enter training which you can demonstrate in the appraisal.

How can a Medical appraisal help me as a junior doctor or an IMG?

  • You are essentially collecting the similar information which you need to maintain portfolio. So you have evidence of your progress which is useful in future applications of training or non-training jobs.
  • Appraisal is a reviewing process which helps you reflect on the last 12 months and your learning needs for the future. It will help you identify you learning needs so you can plan your professional development, improve performance, and demonstrate that you are fit to practice. 
  • You need regular and timely appraisals to pass the revalidation which is usually due for doctors every 5 years. 

How do I select who does my Appraisal?

There is usually a list of trained appraisers who are available and a booking system online.

Your local NHS appraisal unit should be able to help you with this booking. The appraiser isn’t your supervisor and doesn’t need to be from the same specialty or department.

What usually happens in appraisal meeting?

It is usually a very friendly environment where you discuss your appraisal entries and reflections along with the future plans. It is a safe space to reflect and the appraiser may suggest to you some ideas on how you can improve and knowledge and performance for the next year.

Before Covid these meetings were happening face to face and since Covid different arrangements are in place.

Any tips to make it easier:

  • Do not leave it to the last minute and try and understand how system work as soon as you start the job or find you feet in a job within a few months.
  • Ask a colleague to show you how they put in the information and deal with the online system.
  • Explore opportunities of personal development which may include training events, teaching opportunities, audits and management experience.

More information:

There is usually an appraisal and revalidation support unit in every trust and they can help you understand the process better.

https://www.england.nhs.uk/medical-revalidation/appraisers/med-app

/https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/career-progression/appraisals/medical-appraisals

NHS Interview Experience by Dr Sanaa Moledina

What does the interview of a Trust grade post in CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) look like?

Interviews can be really be daunting, however, the interview for your first job in the NHS can be almost nerve-wrecking! There’s a lot that goes through the mind: you fret about yourself and your capabilities; you brood over the unfamiliar panelists and you agonize over the questions that they might ask you; you mentally pit yourself against the other candidates and the list goes on.

I was in the same boat- well, not really but kind of. I had done a few months of clinical attachment at the same Trust, but the interview was still petrifying- to say the least! I, however, managed to clear the interview, and this blog intends to give you a sneak-peak into my first ever interview in the NHS (within CAMHS as a FY3) and tips about how you can prepare yourself for one too.

Before we dive into the interview prep, you should gather a few essentials:

  1. The job description that the Trust has provided to you. It is usually the job advert given on the job’s website.
  2. Your CV or your job profile.
  3. NHS website, NICE guidelines and the BNFc (very handy!)

My interview had 2 general questions and 2 scenario-based questions.

Let the interview begin!

The interview usually starts with a cliché question: It could look like:

  1. Tell us more about yourself and your experience in psychiatry [I got this question]
  2. Take us through your CV and why do you think that you’re a suitable candidate for this job.

The answers of these two questions is the same! You can use the following format to answer the question:

  1. General introduction (name and country of origin)
  2. Education (start from medical school then IELTS and PLAB)
  3. Career (House-job/internship (mention the internship in psychiatry, if applicable) then discuss any clinical experience after it).

TIP: While you talk about your work experience, give a few highlights of what you were expected to do in those roles.

BONUS TIP: Use words like MDT, liaison, pharmacovigilance, safeguarding, risk assessment, crisis management, research, and quality improvement.

  • Audit and Research experience: Talk about both published and unpublished researches. Link your researches to mental health, if possible. Talk about any research or audit related courses that you have attended.
  • Teaching experience: Talk about your formal and informal teaching experiences.
  • Innovation/leadership/bringing change: Talk about how you have tried to bring any change within your medical school, workplace, or the community.

TIP: Your answer to your first question should flow like a story. Try to connect the different themes. Maybe make a mnemonic to remind you the different headings.

The interviewers can then ask you another general question. You can get any of the following questions:

  1. Other than work, what else do you enjoy and why?
  2. What are your weaknesses?

[I got asked: What would be one quality of yours that your colleagues would absolutely hate?]

  • What are your strengths?
  • What can you bring to our team?
  • How do you maintain work-life balance?
  • Why psychiatry and why CAMHS?
  • What makes you a good doctor in psychiatry?
  • Explain to us the roles and responsibilities that might be expected from you as a Trust Grade doctor. 

Sometimes, the general questions can be a bit tacky. You can be asked:

  • Why should we pick you for the job?

For this question, refer to the job description and say all the points in the job description that align with your portfolio. You can talk about all the roles and responsibilities that are expected of a Trust Grade doctor: Talk about your experience in:

  1. Clinical practice- particularly psychiatry.
  2. Working in an MDT setting.
  3. Medications and safeguarding.
  4. Research and audits/QIPs.
  5. Teaching and providing medical education.
  6. Innovation and introduction of change at hospital.
  • Why did you select this job?

For this question, begin by talking about the Trust, the area of the hospital (the hotspots in the area), the timings and the days of the job, about it being a Trust grade job (and not a training job; so that you have some time to familiarize yourself with the system) and the incentives and learning opportunities that the job offers (refer to the job description).

Now let us move to the scenario-based questions.

The hot topics for you to read would be:

  1. Depression and its treatment (learn the drugs and their doses)
  2. ADHD and its treatment [stimulants and non-stimulants]
  3. Autism and its management
  4. Eating disorders, their diagnostic criterion and classification, and their management [the marsipan protocol]
  5. Psychosis and its management
  6. Mental Health Act (criterion and assessment)
  7. Pillars of clinical governance
  8. Rapid tranquilisation protocol
  9. Suicide risk assessment
  10. MSE
  11. Antidepressants (particularly sertraline, fluoxetine, and citalopram) and their side-effects and monitoring
  12. Antipsychotics and their side-effects

The two clinical scenarios I got were:

  1. You have been called to the Paediatrics ward for a patient who has been medically managed after an attempt on his life. How would your consultation look like?
  2. You are the on-call doctor who has been called to the AnE for a 12-year-old girl who looks emaciated. She is refusing to get weighed. How will you approach the situation?

b) You are convinced that it is an eating disorder, then how will you proceed with the management?

After the four questions, I was asked if I had any questions for the panelists?

My advice would be to always ask questions- this shows your interest in the job. I asked the following:

  1. How the Trust will support me with getting my CREST competencies signed.
  2. Can I shadow the Consultants on-call if I want to learn more?
  3. Will I be provided with an online portfolio?
  4. The online trainings and competences that the Trust makes available to the new doctors.
  5. Presence of pastoral support within the Trust.

A few tips for you:

  1. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. I can’t stress on this enough. Practice with someone and practice alone. Nothing can boost your confidence like practice does.
  2. Be original. Do not rote-learn books and YouTube interview clips etc. Be real. Be yourself. They have a penchant for originality.
  3. Do not stress. Try to relax before the interview.
  4. Smile! It can work wonders.
  5. Print a professional development plan (PDP: Google it). Keep it with you during your interview.
  6. Dress elegantly- goes without saying.
  7. Check the meeting link and internet connection beforehand (DO NOT BE LATE!)

You have passed medical school and PLAB so you can easily triumph over this interview too.

I hope this little guide helped. Good luck xx

Sanaa (moledina.sanaa@gmail.com)

Clinical Attachment in Psychiatry – Anonymous Experience

What is Clinical attachment?

To explain it simply, clinical attachment is a period you spend shadowing seniors on the ward, clinic, or department. You aren’t necessarily allowed to directly participate in the clinical activities- but this may vary from Trust to Trust and from department to department.

In most cases, this post has no remuneration associated. Clinical attachment is a period of time where you observe the working of a clinical setting or department. It is similar to what medical students refer to as electives.

How to go about planning a clinical attachment?

Before leaving my home country for my PLAB-2 exam, I had booked a clinical attachment. I was interviewed and was asked to provide a few basic educational documents. I was also asked for my immunization evidence for the Occupational Health Clearance.
I would highly recommend IMGs to plan their clinical attachments right after their PLAB-2 exam so that both are covered in one trip and you can be offered a job interview at passing the exam (if a job opportunity is present within the Trust).

How to search for a clinical attachment?

Unfortunately, there is no set platform available to access clinical attachments.

The quickest and most effective way of searching for a clinical attachment is to email a Consultant in the UK to facilitate you. There are many consultants and registrars in the UK who are very keen to help the IMGs out.

You can find them on social media IMG groups or ask your alumni to connect you with them. Your email should contain details about yourself, your education, your work back in your home country, your future plans of working in the UK, and your expectations from the clinical attachment.

In the majority of cases, the Trust doesn’t charge you for the attachment rather they try to facilitate you by arranging accommodation and conveyance.

My experience with the Clinical attachment:

I did 3 months of clinical attachment (Feb 2021 to May 2021) at a Community Children and Young People Eating Disorder Services – This is part of Child Psychiatry (CAMHS) speciality.

Despite the Covid crisis, uncertainty, and travel restrictions, I was able to secure clinical attachment and my department was very welcoming.

My experience with the attachment has been extremely precious and totally worth it!

Here is why:

  1. My supervisor turned out to be the most wonderful person. He put in genuine interest in my career and well-being and helped me improve both professionally and personally. Hence, through this attachment, I found a mentor for life!
  2. I learned so much about the practice in the UK. I learned how to deal with conflicting situations; how to safeguard patients; how to work with a multidisciplinary team and delegate responsibilities within the team; and about the different services which can be made accessible to support patients.
  3. I was given the opportunity to participate in teaching activities. I held training sessions for nurses, occupational therapists, and psychologists within the department.
  4. I got to learn so much about the different eating disorders- their diagnostic criteria and
    management. I was working with a multidisciplinary team of well-trained nurses, psychologists, care-coordinators, occupational therapists, dieticians, trainees and Consultants. Moreover, my clinical supervisor held reflective practice sessions with me where I would discuss my difficulties (and feats) with him and he would help me make my way around them. He would also encourage me to attend the wards, family-based therapies, group therapies and medical students’ teaching sessions. I was also required to present a case every week in the morning meetings, which helped me a great deal in furnishing my data gathering and analytical skills.
  5. I was asked to innovate and streamline things. I streamlined the blood work-up interpretation protocol by introducing a questionnaire which helped the department assess the physical risk amongst eating disorder patients and ultimately decide inpatient admissions. We are now planning to turn this project into an audit.
  6. Regarding research, we introduced another project to screen eating disorders patients with comorbidities like body dysmorphic disorder, depressive disorder, and anxiety.
  7. I found friends! I made amazing friends in the department. We hang-out every now and then on weekends.
  8. Last but not the least, the attachment helped me to attain an interview opportunity at the Trust and today I am working here as a Trust Grade Doctor. Moreover, I do not feel the hesitancy or panic of the new job because I know the Team and I know how things work around here. There’s existing comfort, trust, and familiarity between the Team and myself.

Downsides of a Clinical Attachment

This is a hard one because there is barely any trouble with it. However, some people might miss their families and would prefer to return to their home country immediately after the exam.

Personally, the experience has had a huge impression on me as a doctor and as an individual. I would highly recommend every IMG to do a clinical attachment in the UK.

Moreover, it is important to make the most out of this opportunity by being proactive. If you show interest, you will undoubtedly be facilitated at every step of the way.

Best Wishes

Recommended books for Junior Doctors in Psychiatry

A lot of Junior Doctors ask about the useful books as they are about to start their journey of Psychiatry Training or very first job in Psychiatry.

Here are some recommended books and resources.

Please Note: I am putting the Amazon links for the books, but please search them online to see if you can find them cheaper from other resources or there may be an more recent edition available.

Oxford Handbook of Psychiatry – 4th edition

Pocket-sized book from Oxford Handbook series, a good start for reading if you are new in Psychiatry.

Shorter Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry – 7th Edition

This book is also from Oxford series but much more detailed in compare to the handbook and if you are interested in a textbook of Psychiatry. This might help.

Psychiatry: Breaking the ICE Introductions, Common Tasks, Emergencies for Trainees

Highly recommended & very useful book for the junior doctors starting in Psychiatry. Plenty of useful tips.

Psychiatry at a Glance – Sixth Edition

Short and simple book for the new starters in Psychiatry

The Maudsley Handbook of Practical Psychiatry – 6th Edition

This is very handy short book from Maudsley and can help junior doctors.  

The Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines in Psychiatry – 14th Edition

This is very useful for prescribing in Psychiatry and also for the MRCpsych exam. The 14th edition is due in June 2021.

Sims’ Symptoms in the Mind: Textbook of Descriptive Psychopathology

Probably a more advanced textbook of Psychopathology but can be very useful for trainees. You may find this in your library.

Fish’s Clinical Psychopathology: Signs and Symptoms in Psychiatry

Small book but very useful if like to know more about Psychopathology

The Maudsley Practice Guidelines for Physical Health Conditions in Psychiatry.

Nice book particularly for the physical health conditions that you will encounter in Psychiatry.

The Doctors Guide to Critical Appraisal – 5th Edition

If you like to have a basic understanding of the statistics and medical research along with critical appraisal. This book is a good start, not particularly related to Psychiatry but research in general.

NICE guidelines on Mental health and wellbeing

This is a free online resource and you will find over 60 guidelines relating to mental health.

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/lifestyle-and-wellbeing/mental-health-and-wellbeing/products?Status=Published

ICD-10 Diagnostic criteria for Mental Health

This comes in a book form but also available free online. A new version of ICD-11 will replace it in the future.

https://icd.who.int/browse10/2016/en#/F20-F29


Please feel free to suggest any other books in the comments and I will add them to the list.

How to use RCPsych Portfolio Online

In this YouTube video, Dr Palwasha Mukhtar is showing us how to use RCPsych portfolio.

Dr Palwasha Mukhtar is a Core Trainee in Psychiatry and she is kindly showing us the basics of RCPsych Portfolio. In my experience the junior IMGs struggle to understand the portfolio online as it may be their first experience of using an electronic portfolio. By this video, you can hopefully understand some basics.

There are lots of useful information on the RCPsych portfolio website.

https://training.rcpsych.ac.uk/home

The Work Place Based Assessments (WPBAs)

https://portfolioonline.zendesk.com/h…

MTI in Psychiatry guide for the IMGs – By Dr Amitkumar Chougule

Dr Amitkumar Chougule is an IMG Psychiatrist from India with an MD in Psychiatry.

Amit came to the UK on the MTI via RCPsych scheme and has now also successfully completed his MRCPsych exam.

He has written a helpful and comprehensive guide focused on the things IMGs should know about the MTI Psychiatry.

Amit has also written about his experience of securing the MTI which you can read from the link below.

PLAB vs MRCPsych

Psychiatry aspiring IMGs commonly ask me, which route is better for the purpose of GMC registration? PLAB or MRCPsych?

Having done both exams in my career. I thought I should compare them.

Disclaimer: Please note this is based on my experience only and not an official guide or version of the Royal College or the GMC. This is written in Jan 2021 and exam criteria, free and regulation will change with time so check the official websites for updates.

Who are the exam conducting authorities:

PLAB: General Medical Council – UK

PLAB is a medical licencing exam for the UK and results in the award of GMC registration.

MRCPsych: Royal College of Psychiatrists – UK

MRCPsych is a membership postgraduate exam i.e. post graduate qualification so you will gain you a Membership of Royal College of Psychiatrists. MRCPsych is also a well-recognized qualification outside of the UK as well.

MRCPsych can also be used to gain GMC registration.

What is the level of knowledge tested?

PLAB: Foundation doctor or internship level, which is broad based knowledge involving multiple specialties expected of a recently qualified doctor.  

The level of knowledge is that you would expect from a well-trained foundation doctor in the UK.

MRCPsych: The level of knowledge you would expect from a middle grade or a ST level Psychiatrist.

MRCPsych tests the knowledge required to understand and manage common mental conditions. It requires a greater depth of understanding and experience of Psychiatry.

The current MRCPsych syllabus includes:

Behavioural Science and Sociocultural Psychiatry, Human Development, Basic Neurosciences, Clinical Psychopharmacology, Classification and Assessment in Psychiatry, Organisation and Delivery of Psychiatric Services, General Adult Psychiatry, Old Age Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Substance Misuse/Addictions, Forensic Psychiatry, Psychiatry of Learning Disability, Critical Review

Check this for further info on the MRCPsych exam syllabus:

How many parts are there and the exam format?

PLAB = Two parts

PLAB-1: 180 (MCQs) multiple choice questions – 3 hours exam time

PLAB – 2: 18 scenarios (OSCE stye stations) each lasting 8 minutes and aims to reflect real life settings including a mock consultation or an acute ward. 

MRCPsych = Three parts

Paper A & B: 150 questions (mixture of MCQs and EMI) – 3 hour time

CASC: 16 stations OSCE style

CASC morning circuit will allow 4 minutes to read the instructions and 7 minutes to complete the consultation task.

CASC afternoon circuit will allow 90 seconds to read the instructions and 7 minutes to complete the consultation task.

What is the Eligibility Criteria:

PLAB:

Medical qualification awarded by an institution listed on the World Directory of Medical Schools.

English language criteria for example:  

  • IELTS academic – 7.0 in each testing area and an overall score of 7.5
  • OET medicine version – Grade ‘B’ in each testing area (speaking, listening, reading and writing)

For a full article on English criteria:

You can take PLAB following your graduation and during internship in the home country.

MRCPsych:

You do not require to have GMC registration or UK experience to take MRCPsych.

You do not need English language exam to sit MRCPsych but English competency will be required for the GMC registration after passing the exam.

Paper A: Can be taken by any fully registered medical practitioner (doesn’t require GMC registration)

Paper B: 12 months experience in Psychiatry (further info below in link)

CASC: 24 months experience in Psychiatry  (further info below in link)

How much is the exam fee?

Please see the latest information from the exam websites.

PLAB:

PLAB 1 = £239 (240 from April 2021)

PLAB 2 = £875 (879 from April 2021)

MRCPsych:

Pre-Membership Psychiatric Trainees (PMPT) and affiliates of the College taking exams in the UK and Ireland are entitled to a discount.

Paper A: £486 (PMPT and affiliates) £539 otherwise

Paper B: £437 (PMPT and affiliates) £485 otherwise

CASC: £1004 (PMPT and affiliates)  £1115 otherwise

What are the exam dates and locations?

Since Covid-19 the schedule of the exams have been disrupted and the best advice is to check the official websites for the most recent updates.

PLAB:

PLAB-1: All across the world, various countries and dates.

PLAB-2: GMC testing centre, Manchester, United Kingdom.

GMC has continued to conduct the PLAB-2 examination during the Covid-19 crisis.

MRCPsych:

The MRCPsych including all parts, has been continued during the Covid-19 pandemic as an online exam including the CASC exam. All part of MRCPsych  can be taken from your own home.

Before Covid 19, the papers and CASC exam took place twice a year in the UK with a few overseas options. However, the situation has now changed.

Please check for ongoing updates on the RCPSych website.

How many times can I attempt the Exam?

PLAB:

You must pass PLAB 2 within three years of the date you passed PLAB 1. 

You can attempt the exam (PLAB-1 and 2 each) four times.

If you’ve failed the exam four times, you can apply for one final attempt. You will need to demonstrate evidence of additional learning over a 12 month period and make an application

MRCPsych:

Once you have passed your first written paper  (Paper A or B). You have 1,643 days from the date the results are published to complete all remaining parts of MRCPsych.

If you haven’t completed all parts within the 1,643 days, you’ll need to re-sit all parts to pass. 

However there are special circumstances which you may be granted an extension, for instance if you took maternity leave, or worked part-time.

Where can I find Covid-19 related updates?

PLAB:

MRCPsych:

What is the recommended time required for preparation?

This will depend on the individual doctor, their expertise and experience. In my own experience:

PLAB: 4 months for PLAB-1 and 6 weeks for PLAB-2 (during and immediately following my internship in Pakistan).

MRCPsych: 4 months for each paper and around 3 month active preparation for the CASC exam (whilst I was training in the UK).

Both exam require research of the curriculum, online learning, courses and study partners.

Which exam would you recommend for the purpose of GMC registration?

This will depend on your experience, expertise and future goals.

The PLAB exam is a much easier in comparison to the  MRCPsych in my opinion and for the junior IMGs I usually suggest considering the PLAB initially.

The PLAB is also less expensive than the MRCPsych exam in terms of fees. However, since Covid 19 the MRCPsych can be taken from your home country and you can save money on travel and visa fees.

The MRCPsych requires a certain level of expertise and experience in Psychiatry and is relatively easier to pass if you are working in the UK. However if you working outside of UK, it will require more effort in compare to UK trainee but it is possible. If you are an experienced psychiatrist you should certainly consider it.

Best wishes:

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