From 11 June 2018, international medical graduates applying for registration with a licence to practise in the UK will need to have their primary medical qualification verified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®). If this applies to you, it will become one of the first steps you’ll take to prepare for working in the UK. We’ve been talking to doctors on Facebook about this, and here Richard Amison, our Head of Applications, shares his top 10 tips on verifying your medical qualifications.
We really value the contribution that international doctors make to UK healthcare. It’s our job as a regulator to provide the public with the confidence that doctors have the knowledge, qualifications and experience to provide excellent patient care. In an increasingly mobile world, where more and more doctors cross borders to practise medicine, verification provides an extra level of assurance.
Here’s my advice for any doctors who are preparing to work in the UK:
Check the criteria
A key point to note is that these changes only apply to applications made after 11 June 2018
If this applies to you, the next step you’ll need to take is setting up your GMC online account – this is the tool you use to make your application for registration with us. On GMC online, you can check that your primary medical qualification is on the list of acceptable overseas medical qualifications. If your qualification isn’t on the list, you’ll need to contact us for further advice.
If this is on the list, the table below will help you identify if you need to have your qualification verified by ECFMG:
|I qualified from||Do the new checks apply?|
|A medical school outside the EEA or Switzerland||Yes|
|A medical school within the EEA or Switzerland||They only apply to you if you are not a national of an EU member state (or entitled to be treated as such) or Switzerland|
|A UK medical school||No|
Verification is also required if you are applying for registration through our acceptable postgraduate qualification (PGQ) route. You would need to have both your primary medical qualification and postgraduate qualification verified.
Start the verification process early
To carry out this process, ECFMG will contact the organisation which gave you your medical qualification (for example, a medical school) and ask them to confirm that your qualification is genuine. So, the time it takes to complete this depends on how quickly the organisation can come back to ECFMG.
We can only keep registration applications open for 90 days, so it’s a good idea to make this one of the first steps you take to prepare for working in the UK. You can start your verification as far in advance as you want, for example, before taking part 1 of the PLAB test.
Sign up to EPICSM
To make the process quick and easy, ECFMG have an online portal – this is called EPIC (Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials). Once you have set up an EPIC account, you can then upload your medical qualification. ECFMG have guidance on how to use EPIC and are happy to help with any questions on this.
In most cases, you only need to have your primary medical qualification verified
Most applicants will only need to have their primary medical qualification verified. If you’re applying through the acceptable postgraduate qualification route, you’ll also need to verify your postgraduate qualification. Other documents, for example, your internship certificate, don’t need to be verified. ECFMG have some helpful information about this on their website, in their frequently asked questions.
This is a lifelong check
We know that applying for registration with us can seem like a daunting process. We are committed to making sure the entire process is as straightforward as possible. And having your qualifications verified now could save you valuable time and money in the future.
Once you’ve had your qualification verified by ECFMG, the check will last throughout your career. So, if you decided to work in another country where this is required, you wouldn’t need to have this verified again. Other countries that require this include Australia, the USA, Canada and the Republic of Ireland.
You can also use your EPIC account to build an online portfolio of your medical qualifications, which you can update as you progress use throughout your career. You can find more information on the EPIC website.
It’s also worth remembering that if ECFMG have previously verified your qualification, you don’t need to have it verified again when you apply to us. You simply need to enter your existing EPIC ID number in your application for registration and use EPIC to send a verification report to us.
ECFMG has over 30 years’ experience in verifying doctors’ qualifications
ECFMG is a not-for-profit organisation based in the USA with more than 30 years’ experience in verifying the medical qualifications of doctors. They already provide this service for other regulators around the world, so you can be confident with the support they’ll give you.
Your payment goes straight to ECFMG
Currently (April 2018) the cost for this can range between £145-£245, depending on how many qualifications you are submitting, and on the exchange rate at the time.
We don’t receive any money from this – your fee goes straight to ECFMG to cover their processes. ECFMG set the cost for verification and charges in US Dollars.
Financial support is available for refugee doctors
If you have been granted refugee status, we will pay the verification fees to ECFMG on your behalf. When you book part 1 of the PLAB test, you should contact us before creating your EPIC account for further support with this.
Our other registration requirements remain unchanged
The other registration requirements for doctors from outside the European Economic Area haven’t changed. You’ll still need to:
- show evidence of your knowledge of English language.
- attend an ID check at our offices (but you won’t need to bring your original primary medical qualification/post graduate qualification with you).
- provide us with evidence of your good standing, where required.
The verification from ECFMG simply confirms that your qualifications are genuine.
You now have more choice about English language qualifications
As you may have already heard, we have recently started accepting the Occupational English Test (OET) as evidence of your knowledge of English language, alongside the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). We hope this will give you more flexibility, while keeping standards high.
If you have any other questions about the verification process, check out the guidance on our website.