Planning for medical experience abroad

If you’re considering going abroad for any of your medical training you should plan well in advance. Gather as much information as possible and plan as early you can. It’s important that you have everything in writing — don’t rely on agreements made over the phone.

Make sure you discuss your plans with one or more of the following (depending on which stage of your training you have reached):

  • your foundation school programme director
  • your clinical tutor or director of medical education
  • your head of school
  • an appropriate royal college
  • the GMC

female doctor with patient in cast

If you terminate your contract early, make sure you contact your employer to resign in line with the terms and conditions of your contact.

Make sure you understand the requirements and restrictions which apply to training and accreditation for both the UK and the country which you’re applying to go to.

It’s equally important to plan for your return to the UK. Think about who to keep in touch with while you’re away and what you’re going to do when you return.

People to keep in touch with might be:

  • family and friends
  • your HEE local office or deanery
  • your employer
  • colleagues
  • GMC

Read our information on planning your return to the UK.

Find out more by reading some tips for planning a year overseas:

    • start planning and preparing early, keep clear lists, labelled files of documents, key phone numbers on your computer, and a copy of everything to carry around with you on a memory stick. Keep hard copies of documents in ring-binders. Know where everything is; i.e. certificates, certified copies, CV, references etc
    • have money set aside. Although in some places, eg  Australia, pay may be higher than in an equivalent post in the UK, it can cost a lot to get there. Medicals, getting certificates notarised, registration, visas, flights etc are likely to cost more than £2,000
    • cultivate contacts and build relationships. Finding out the names of people in the right places is key to your application being successful. You should consider this for your prospective hospital abroad, the national registration agencies, and immigration. Try to get the same person who knows your situation on the end of the phone or email
    • have a close buddy or parent who can support you and encourage you through the process. Be sure you have the stamina for the endless list of tasks you’ll need to do, but (if possible) also have someone that can take some of the load, even if it is mainly just emotional support
    • find ways of overlapping processes to save time. Rather than waiting for one process to be complete before going on the next one, is there a way to try and have several happening at the same time? Don’t necessarily accept the time frames stated on a website, phone your cultivated contact to help find a shortcut. Keep your name and case on their radar, as regular phone calls checking on your progress speeds through your application. Ensure you have all the documentation, photos and application forms filled in and ready to go
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