From PLAB test to job: some practical considerations:

An overwhelming number of overseas doctors join the NHS via the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test route. This article will focus on making the best of the time spent between passing the PLAB test part 1 and successfully finding your first post in the NHS. It is not meant to be a comprehensive guide but rather a practical approach to some of the issues that concern overseas doctors.

Preparation before the PLAB test
Committing yourself to doing the PLAB test, and eventually working in the United Kingdom, is a major life decision and you should have given enough thought to the pros and cons of working a san overseas doctor in the United Kingdom before coming.

Two recent changes will have a profound effect on the training of doctors in the United Kingdom and directly affect overseas doctors. Firstly, the European Working Time Directive (EWTD), which comes into force on 1 August 2004, will probably mean that more non-training posts will be created to conform to the directive. Secondly, now that the 10 new member states have joined the European Union, competition for jobs will become more intense.

For success in such a market, you need to have a clear goal for your training and the specialty you want to train in.

When to come to the United Kingdom
If you have taken the PLAB test in one of the UK centres or you are a refugee doctor, you are already in the United Kingdom and can move on to the next section. For those who took the PLAB test part 1 in an overseas centre, coming to the United Kingdom for part 2 poses some difficult choices.

Living in the United Kingdom is expensive so you have to be sure about your finances. Remember, you may have to wait up to nine months from the day you pass your PLAB test part 2 to getting your first post. You will need strong financial backing to live in the United Kingdom without a regular salary.

Probably the best time to come to the United Kingdom is about one to two months before taking the PLAB test part 2. During this time, you may want to do a clinical attachment to gain an insight into the NHS and clinical practice in this country.

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By Mohammad Shaiyan Rahman, senior house officer in accident and emergency
Hemel Hempstead General Hospital, Hemel Hempstead HP2 4AD


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