|Welcoming and supporting international trainees|
|Thursday, 06 December 2012|
Celia Mackie, International Medical Graduate Sponsorship Scheme Administrator, speaks to Aoife O’Sullivan on her key role in bringing international surgical trainees to the UK
The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is currently the only Royal Surgical College actively providing sponsorship for international surgeons to come to the UK to train in a surgical specialty for a temporary period of time through its International Medical Graduate Sponsorship Scheme (IMGSS).
Successfully running for over 20 years, the IMGSS (previously known as the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme) is coordinated at RCSEd by Mrs Celia Mackie, who works daily at sponsoring international surgeons for registration with the General Medical Council (GMC) and College support for their visa, through the UK Government’s Tier 5 Medical Trainee Initiative, which allows international medical trainees come to the UK for a period up to two years.
Explaining more about how the scheme works, Mrs Mackie says, “Most of the trainees who we help to come over to the UK have been offered a position here that they have either seen advertised, or have been offered by their seniors who know someone in the UK who has a training opportunity, such as a Fellowship exchange for example. The consultant then approaches the College to formally request sponsorship to allow the trainee to obtain GMC registration.”
Doctors wishing to work in the UK must have GMC registration which is granted to UK and EU doctors. The College and the GMC have a template which allows us to assess postgraduate qualifications from outside the UK and EU.
“The College is very much focused on international activities and I feel this will increase in the forthcoming years”
“In some cases the applicants may have the MRCS and can obtain their GMC registration without sponsorship, but they may still need sponsorship from RCSEd for their visa. So the consultant will write to the College and request sponsorship for a trainee and we then take the process forward from there – assessing not just their previous training experience and qualifications, but also taking into account any publications or research they have undertaken to establish eligibility for our scheme.
“Once their CV has been assessed by the Clinical Lead, Consultant Vascular Surgeon and RCSEd Regional Surgical Adviser, Mr Euan Munro (previous clinical lead was RCSEd President, Mr Ian Ritchie), we’re able to get the whole process moving from there. There is a lot of information for the GMC that must be gathered and documents to get countersigned etc – there can be various pitfalls which can hold a candidate back – but for the most part, we can usually get them through in three to four months.”
Sponsored doctors through IMGSS are limited to a two year period to undertake their training in the UK, and after the two years they must leave. “This seems to work well, as for the most part trainees are keen after their two years specialist training to go back to their country to apply their acquired skills.”
Explaining more about the mutual benefits of the scheme, Celia says: “RCSEd is proud to be a global college and it has always been seen as a positive practice for us to be actively engaging with the international surgical community.
“It used to be just international surgeons who were in the UK to complete their Fellowship examination that got the opportunity to stay on in the UK and work here, but that’s not how it works anymore. This scheme has opened more doors to international surgeons, most of whom are at a very high level in their careers and have a specialist interest they wish to develop. So, for example, they could be in orthopaedic training with a particular interest in coming to the UK to learn more about hand surgery; it will be a particular element they want further training in and they will come here to learn as much as they can to take back home to their countries.”
Since the IMGSS began, it has helped over 1,200 candidates from approximately 40 countries come to the UK to train, hailing from nations as far afield as from Brunei to Zambia. The largest number of candidates RCSEd has assisted in the past ten years have come from Egypt, Sri Lanka and, surprisingly, Australia because Australian postgraduate qualifications are not currently recognised by the GMC and therefore need to be verified. “Applicants from a non-English speaking country have to undertake an English language test and need to score highly, but even if English is a candidate’s first language, as is the case for most Australian postgraduate’ before ‘qualifications applicants, they still need GMC registration and in the most part, a visa as well as provide evidence that they have been taught in English at a medical school.”
Year on year, the number of candidates applying to go through the scheme has steadily increased, broadening the sharing of surgical practices within the international community.
“It’s beneficial for everyone to learn working practices in other countries. With RCSEd’s core ethos of being a global, welcoming College, it’s important we continue to make the effort to do what we can for the advancement of surgical training worldwide. The College is very much focused on international activities and I feel this will increase in the forthcoming years.
“The most rewarding part of my job is that most of the people I have dealt with over the years have been extremely committed to their career development and very motivated in their desire to gain experience training in the UK. It is a great pleasure to help them with the process. The whole scheme is extremely worthwhile for all involved, which seems especially true when you read the feedback from the overseas candidate and UK consultants on how mutually valuable the experience has been for them.”For further information visit the RCSEd website.