Working abroad – what you need to know


Want to broaden your experience? Have a sense of adventure? Perhaps you have a passion to practise medicine in less-developed communities? Whatever your reason for wanting to work oversees, ensuring you’re well-prepared is a must.

Working abroad has become an ever more popular option for junior doctors, with the majority heading to New Zealand and Australia. Below are some tips to help you realise your dream.

Essential items :

  • An up-to-date CV
  • Scanned copies of your original documents:
    • passport
    • driving licence
    • GMC certificate
    • degree certificate
    • FY1 and FY2 certificates of completion/competency
    • letters showing name and address.


You should gather as much information as you can about potential jobs, ensure your CV is up-to-date and make sure you sort your medicals and police checks. It can take a long time to get everything sorted to work in another country, and planning ahead is vital in organising a successful trip. Ask yourself – where you want to go, what you want to do, and why you want to go – what are you hoping to gain from this experience?


A medical qualification is a passport to the world – it enables you to transport your skills anywhere, should you wish to enhance them. Roles in developed countries will be more competitive, therefore you must be able to clearly demonstrate your clinical and managerial skills. Clear research and publication experience will also be helpful.


In the UK, all doctors must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). In addition, the GMC regulates all aspects of medical education and sets the standard for higher specialty medical training through the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board. Before going to work in another country, it is essential to obtain a certificate of good standing from the GMC, and also to inform the Council of any change in your correspondence address.


Having a patient’s best interests at heart will not always protect that patient from harm. Likewise the best intentions will not always protect a doctor from human error and professional scrutiny. This is why having indemnity and access to 24-hour medicolegal advice is vital.

NHS indemnity is limited to clinical negligence claims arising from NHS hospital care and the claim is made against the trust. It is essential for all doctors to have additional professional protection for the other medicolegal risks that can arise from practice. The NHS scheme does not extend to doctors working abroad, so you will therefore need to make your own arrangements to ensure that you have adequate protection in place.

Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, MPS medicolegal adviser, says that junior doctors must be alive to the ever-increasing risks of clinical practice. “Doctors travelling abroad should be alert to the current legal and ethical climate within a particular country. Being aware and managing these risks will safeguard you for the future.

“MPS’s role is to protect the interests of members when concerns are raised about their practice, in any form – claim, complaint, medical council investigation. With members practising in more than 40 countries, if you are planning to work overseas membership can usually be arranged.”


If you plan to return to the UK, you should make certain arrangements before leaving. It is advisable for UK medical graduates to have completed foundation training before doing a period of training abroad, and to ensure that any national training number can be retained on return to the UK.

Good luck!

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NHS Medical Careers

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