Help for refugee doctors

The steps you can take to get a job as a doctor in the UK, more about our refugee doctor initiative and help with GMC registration.

Location: UK International
Audience: International doctors
Updated: Thursday 11 January 2024
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We believe refugee doctors make a valuable contribution to the delivery of healthcare services in the UK.

This guide is a starting point, with sources of help, to help you find your feet in the UK and become a doctor.


Three steps to become a doctor in the UK

If you want to work as a doctor in the UK, you must be licensed to practice by the GMC (General Medical Council).

To get your license to practice you will need to do three things.

1. Pass the IELTS or OET

These are the English language tests which includes tests on speaking, reading, writing and listening.

Find out more about the IELTS test and OET test

2. Pass the PLAB tests

This is a two-part test to determine doctors’ competence. It includes PLAB 1 – a written test, and PLAB 2 - a practical test with different scenarios to test your competence in settings such as a mock consultation or an acute ward.

Find out more about the PLAB tests

3. Do a clinical attachment

This is a type of unpaid work experience which familiarises doctors with the NHS and UK practice. You will observe the work in an NHS hospital for about four to eight weeks.

Find out more about clinical attachments

Once you have passed all three stages, you can apply for your license to practice from the GMC and then apply for jobs as a doctor in the UK.

These stages are difficult to get through and can be expensive. Our refugee doctors initiative can give you financial help and assistance to complete the steps.


BMA refugee doctor initiative

The refugee doctor initiative is free and provides you with a range of benefits to help suitably trained doctors to get their licence to practice in the UK.

What is included

  • Free weekly subscription to the BMJ.
  • A confidential, 24-hour phone counselling service for you and your family for all personal, emotional, work or study related problems.
  • Use of the BMA library.
  • Local BMA support and attendance of local BMA meetings.
  • Support from the BMA international department.


Please complete the form and use the freepost address label (at the back of the application form) to send it back to the BMA.

Please remember to supply the requested documentation, otherwise processing your application may be delayed. 

If you have any questions please contact us on [email protected].


Medical support workers

The NHS has created a new role to support doctors who do not yet have GMC registration.

Medical support workers will work as part of a multi-disciplinary professional team. Within this role you will undertake a range of essential routine clinical tasks under the supervision of the relevant consultant, GP or GP nurse supervisor in charge of the clinical area in which you are employed.
You have to pass the English language test, IELTS or the OET test, equivalent to 7.5.

You can apply in this survey. Write 'medical support worker' in the questions that asks, “in what capacity do you wish to work?”  


Need help? For questions about any aspect of your working life, our advisers are here to help you. Opening times: 8am - 6pm Monday to Friday (excluding UK bank holidays)
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