UK: Doctors willing to gain medical experience and work as medical Professionals in the UK are going to find it tougher come September this year. General Medical Council (GMC) has recently announced its intentions to make the PLAB exam more tougher and stricter. The PLAB test is mandatory for internationally-trained doctors seeking work in the UK.
The GMC has said it will overhaul the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test to make it ‘more thorough’ and potentially harder to pass from September this year. The regulator clarified that the changes were to ensure the test was more robust and reliable, and it was not trying to create a barrier to entry.
As reported by a UK healthcare newsportal GPonline, the changes will now have a practical test to ‘better reflect’ real life consultations in the UK health system and test hopefuls on a wider breadth of knowledge in the written test, the GMC said. Tests will take longer and assess candidates’ professionalism and understanding of ethics in addition to their clinical skills.
Applicants will face limits on the number of attempts they are allowed to take the test, and only be allowed to apply for a licence to practise in the UK within two years of passing.
Longer-term plans will see the PLAB replaced by a different test altogether, provisionally called the medical licensing assessment (MLA), which will act as a ‘unified assessment for doctors seeking to practise in the UK’. This new test, to be implemented ‘at some point in the future’, will give assurance that both UK-trained doctors and those trained overseas have been examined and evaluated to the same high level, the regulator added.
Professor Vikram Jha, head of undergraduate school of Medicine at the University of Liverpool, chairs the panel for the PLAB practical test. He said: ‘The practical test has been fully revised to make sure it genuinely reflects best practice in medical assessment.
‘The longer, more integrated scenarios are more authentic and require candidates to demonstrate how they apply their knowledge and skills to provide safe patient care. That, along with a new way of setting the pass mark for the practical exam, will enhance the reliability of the test, making sure that only those doctors with a good level of knowledge and skills are allowed to practise in the UK.’
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘In terms of doctors coming to the UK, those who are considering doing that shouldn’t have any difficulty demonstrating the necessary skills.’
The GMC is said to have acknowledged that changes to tighten up the test could have an impact on the number of doctors eligible to work in the UK.