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Speciality Training Routes for IMGs

At PGMC we regularly get queries from IMGs and their educational supervisors regarding the routes into training that are available to them in the UK. We hope that this page will provide a useful summary of the key information that can help you enter speciality training in the UK as an IMG, if that is your goal. 

Please note that this page is designed to give a brief overview of speciality training in the UK. It is not exhaustive of all the pathways that exist and we recommend that you do thorough research into the requirements for your speciality of choice. 

Typical UK Training Pathway: 

After completion of undergraduate medical training, British medical graduates enter training programmes which are managed by Health Education England. Junior Drs on a training programme are known as trainees. However, not all Junior Drs in UK hospitals are trainees. Hospitals also employ non-training or Trust Grade Drs - unlike training posts, these posts tend to be based in one speciality or department and are typically 6 month or 12 month fixed term contracts. IMGs often chose these posts because they are an excellent way of gaining experience within the NHS and building the body of evidence needed to apply to enter speciality training in the UK. These posts are also a good way of experiencing a certain speciality or area to see whether it is an area you wish to work in long-term.

The UK postgraduate training pathway, at a very basic level, has two stages: 


  • Foundation Training (2 years): Newly qualified Junior Drs must complete this programme, developing and evidencing foundation level competencies required before entering specialty training. Drs on this training programme are known within the hospital as either F1 or F2 trainees, depending on which year of the programme they are on. 

  • Speciality Training (5-8 years) or General Practitioner (GP) Training (3 years):

    • Specialty Training​:

      • Certain speciality training programmes are known as run-through training programmes whereby trainees enter the programme directly once they have completed their Foundation training and remain on this training programme until they qualify as a Consultant in this speciality. 

      • Other programmes are known as uncoupled programmes where trainees must complete a core training programme for 2 or 3 years, depending on their desired speciality, and then apply to enter higher speciality training where they will work towards qualifying as a Consultant.

    • GP Training: In order to become a GP in the UK, British graduates complete a three year GP training programme following Foundation training. 


Training Pathways as an IMG: 


If you have achieved your undergraduate medical qualification outside of the UK and have started working in the NHS as a Trust Grade Dr then your postgraduate training pathway in the UK will look a little different to the typical UK graduate. 


IMGs can enter UK training directly at the Foundation training programme stage either at the F1 stage if you are eligible for provisional GMC registration or Stand Alone F2 if you already have full GMC registration. If this is the case, your training pathway will closely follow that of a UK graduate and the below information will not be as useful to you.  

As an IMG with previous training and experience outside of the UK, it may not be suitable for you to enter speciality training at the Foundation level. In order to enter specialty training above Foundation level, you need to provide evidence to Health Education England when you apply that you have already obtained the competencies of the training stages prior to the one you are applying to enter. 

Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training Route: 

Alternative Certificate Route:

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