Working or Training Abroad as a Doctor
Many doctors consider taking time out of training to broaden their clinical and personal experience. UK-trained doctors are usually in demand in other countries, and many doctors will consider overseas work at some point during their medical career.
It is proving more difficult to find employment in Australia and New Zealand as a junior doctor and forward planning many months in advance is necessary.
There are a number of issues to consider when contemplating working abroad and these are outlined in the following document. Please continue to keep up to date with requirements as these can change frequently.
When to work overseas
As a student:
- Most, but not all, doctors first experience working abroad during the final year of medical school while on their elective.
- If you are considering working abroad later on in your medical career it is a good opportunity to use your elective to experience working life in another country.
- You would need exceptional reasons as to why you cannot complete F1 in the UK. Any application would need to be approved by your medical school in conjunction with your allocated Foundation School. Please see the UKFPO Reference Guide (2012).
- It is possible to complete F2 abroad however not all Foundation Schools allow this.
- Peninsula Foundation School allows trainees to apply to complete F2 abroad and more information can be found on the Foundation School website.
- You can find a list of which Schools allow F2 abroad through the UKFPO website. NB. Don’t base your decision to apply to a particular Foundation School on whether or not they support F2 abroad; your application may not be successful for a variety of reasons and you will then potentially find yourself somewhere you would prefer not to be for two years.
- If you go abroad for F2 we suggest that you progress your full GMC Registration before you go. It can save money BUT
If any incidents occur whilst abroad the GMC may not reinstate your name on the register until a full investigation has taken place
In addition, you may not be able to use the services of the MDU/MPS whilst not on the GMC register
Some feedback from previous trainees who have completed F2 abroad can be found on the Peninsula Foundation School website.
- You could take time out of the Foundation Programme which is usually 12 months.
o If this option was approved you would be guaranteed a place back in the Foundation School to complete your F2 when you return.
o This would give you more flexibility in terms of what work you do and when you do it, for example, you might combine with travel and you don’t have to meet the criteria of an F2 approved post
o More information on time out during Foundation is contained within the UKFPO Reference Guide (2012)
o Different Foundation Schools will have different policies in place so please refer to local policies before making any plans
- Time out and work abroad after F2 gives you more flexibility in terms of what work you do and when you do it, as mentioned above
o Remember that some specialties will not let you apply at ST1/CT1 if you have 18 months experience in that specialty post-foundation. Check the relevant ST1/CT1 person specification carefully.
o Build in time to attend interview back in the UK. Also see (1) below.
For more information please see the Foundation School website and any specific queries can be directed to the Foundation School Manager and/or via F1enquiries@southwest.hee.nhs.uk.
- If planning to work abroad after Foundation Year 2, and applying for specialty training the following year; it is vitally important that travel back to the UK for Specialty and GP interviews are factored into your plans. The interview window for recruitment normally runs from January to mid-February.
- If you are considering applying for General Practice and lived abroad in the last five years for longer than three months, a Foreign Police Check is required. You are advised to contact SBS if you have any questions about this
Postgraduate Doctors in training may also seek to take time out of their specialty training programme. There are four different categories for time out of programme:
- OOPT – Time out of programme for approved clinical training
- OOPE –Time out of programme for clinical experience
- OOPR – Time out of programme for research
- OOPC – Time out of programme for career break
The Out of Programme Policy need to insert link when available
How to use the time:
It is important to use the time working overseas wisely; this could incorporate both paid employment and voluntary work. If the time is used well it will give you enhanced clinical skills and experience which can help you stand out at interview.
Returning to the UK
Planning your experience abroad:
- Research the medical system in the country you plan to visit. UK training grades may not have the same equivalence in other countries.
- Separate Indemnity Insurance will need to be obtained if you wish to work overseas.
- It is important to consider protecting your pension during your time spent working overseas.
- Don’t forget to retain your name on the GMC Register
Information about working overseas in English speaking countries
Doctor Connect - Work as a doctor in Australia (Government website)
There is no nationally regulated system for applications to work in the medical system in Australia. You must apply to all of the following:
- State or Territory Health Department for a job
- State or Medical Territory Medical Board for registration
- Department of Immigration for a visa
- Medicare Australia for a Medicare Provider Number
New Zealand is similar to Australia but does not have different states or a territory, once you are registered to practice this applies to the whole country, however, there may be restrictions depending on your work permit/immigration status.
The Medical Council registers doctors in New Zealand and carries responsibilities in the areas of standards, conduct and competence.
If you would like to register to practice in NZ you can use the online self-assessment tool to check your eligibility.
You must also go through the New Zealand Immigration process for a visa/work permit etc.
Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) - Assess whether International Medical Graduates are ready to enter programs of graduate medical education in the United States’ you must have this certification.
The process for applying to train/work in Canada is a similar challenge to that of the USA. However, each province has different rules and regulations and you will need to check what is required, once you have decided in which area you would like to work.
Canadian Information Centre for International Medical Graduates
This tool helps identify your occupation as well as labour market information
Voluntary and other organisations
The following are useful recent articles relating to working abroad
BMA article on working abroad
Hospital Dr an article on advice for doctors wanting to work
Medical Success, alternative careers paths for doctors’ advice on working overseas
Antarctic medicine – article on the challenges of being a doctor in an isolated and confined environment
Leaflets in this series
- Medical CVs – CPIS/1
- Medical Portfolios – CPIS/2
- Specialty Assessment Centres – CPIS/3
- Working Abroad – CPIS/4
The advice and Information contained in this article is current and to the best of our knowledge. Peninsula Postgraduate Medical Education (Health Education South West) cannot be held liable for any actions/decisions made as a result of this article and advise the reader to check the facts with the relevant body to their own satisfaction. We have no control over the content of any external links contained within this article.