Clinical Attachments for IMG Doctors

Clinical attachments in the UK are a great way for IMG doctors to understand what it is like to work for the NHS. These are safe environments where you will have no clinical responsibilities, allowing you to develop understanding and exposure to UK medical practice.

Many IMG doctors participate in a clinical attachment just before or after they have passed their PLAB 2 exam. By this point many IMGs have already paid to come to the UK for the exam and find it cost efficient to complete an attachment at the same time.

What’s included in this blog?

  • What is a clinical attachment?
  • Am I eligible for a clinical attachment?
  • How do I find a clinical attachment?
  • Applying for a clinical attachment
  • Do I need to do a clinical attachment
  • How we can help you pass exams and progress your career

Other blogs that may interest you:

– The CREST Form – everything you need to know
– Finding your first job in the NHS
– How to Get Into UK GP Training (UK-trained or IMG doctor)
– How to Create a Powerful CV
– The PLAB 1 Exam: What to Expect and How to Prepare
– The PLAB 2 Exam: What it is and How to Prepare
The MSRA Assessment: What it is and How to Pass

What is a clinical attachment?

A clinical attachment is a supervised placement – usually in a Hospital – where an IMG doctor has no clinical responsibility, but would be expected to complete tasks similar to a UK medical student. Sometimes clinical attachments can also be known as ‘observerships’, as they are a great opportunity for you to observe working in a speciality.

During an attachment you may participate in:

  • history taking (under supervision)
  • observing surgeries or outpatient clinics
  • performing basic examinations (but no intimate examination) under direct supervision

These attachments are unpaid and usually last between 4 to 6 weeks.

Hospitals will normally ask you to pay a fee for a clinical attachment – usually in the region of £400-500. This is to cover the costs for the administrative work they need to complete in order for you to participate in the attachment.

Am I eligible for a clinical attachment?

The criteria for eligibility can vary for each clinical attachment, so please check with the hospital before applying. Usually hospitals will ask for:

  • A DBS (disclosure barring service) check – this is to check for any criminal convictions or offences
  • Proof of identity e.g. passport
  • Appropriate references from your referees
  • IELTS or OET certificate
  • Occupational Health clearance
  • Attendance at the trust induction before starting

How do I find a clinical attachment?

The most common way to find a clinical attachment in the NHS is to simply search the internet for ‘trusts running clinical attachments!’. Alternatively, you may already know a friend or relative working in the NHS who may help you apply for a clinical attachment, if their trust runs these placements.

Below are a list of some trusts that run clinical attachments:

Applying for a clinical attachment

Every hospital will have its own application form which you need to complete when applying. It is important to bear in mind that these placements are usually competitive and so any extra information you can provide to the trust may boost your chances of being accepted.

It is therefore usually helpful to provide a covering letter explaining why you would be interested in the clinical attachment and what you hope to achieve from the placement. An up to date CV is also useful for the hospital and your supervisor to understand your prior experience. Our blog on How to create a Powerful CV can help if you don’t already have one.

Do I need to do a clinical attachment?

Clinical attachments are not mandatory in order to come and work in the NHS. However many IMG doctors find that these placements can enhance their applications when applying for jobs, as they can demonstrate a) proactiveness and initiative, and b) an understanding of the NHS. Depending on your future career plans you may also gain experience in a speciality that you hope to apply for in the future.

How we can help you pass your Exams

To help pass PLAB 1, click for our resources click here.
To help pass PLAB 2, click for our resources click here.
To help pass MSRA, click for our resources click here.

I wish you all the success in receiving a clinical attachment if you decide to apply for one. Further information can be found on the GMC website.

Dr Pooja Arora 🙂

Dr Pooja Arora is a portfolio GP based in Birmingham. She has held local and national roles in her Medico-Political background fighting for GP trainee and GP rights. Her roles have included:

– Vice Chair Birmingham LMC
– BMA council member
– BMA General Practitioners Committee elected representative
– BMA Sessional GP committee elected representative
– BMA National Deputy Policy lead working at scale
– HEE GP ambassador
– HEE GP stage 3 assessor
– RCGP Midland Faculty AiT representative

* Blogs written by Dr Aman and Dr Pooja Arora are not for professional or medical advice. Please seek appropriate professional, legal or financial advice where appropriate *

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