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Medical English Test (PLAB)


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Medical English Test (PLAB)


In economically developed countries, the profession of a doctor is considered profitable and respected, but to become a sought-after doctor, to work in a good clinic or hospital, you will need to go a long way. You need to spend 6-10 years on education, pass a difficult professional exam (before completing the residency, which will take another 2-3 years) - and spend a lot of money on all this.

Is it possible for certified doctors to work in the UK and other Western countries, getting a decent salary? SMAPSE experts will answer right away: there is a chance, but you will have to work hard to make your dreams come true.

1. The beginning of the journey: language preparation for IELTS and the study of medical terminology

To get started, evaluate your capabilities as impartially and objectively as possible: visit the General Medical Council website and see what is the procedure for applying for the PLAB exam (medical professional and language certification). GMC (Main Medical Council) is the main regulatory body among professional doctors in the UK, monitoring the quality of care in the UK. GMC takes professional exams, issues licenses and certificates, giving the right to carry out medical activities in Britain. Many immediately notice that internships and subsequent hiring are preferably given to representatives of Britain and the British Commonwealth, the European Union, Switzerland and India (Indians have an advantage - they can get a medical education in English in their homeland).

If your first acquaintance didn’t scare you away, get ready to take the IELTS English proficiency test (you must earn at least 7.0 points out of 9.0 possible), and then PLAB profile exams. Alas, even excellent IELTS results do not guarantee that you can easily understand English-language medical terminology and vocabulary, so you should go to special preparatory courses “English for Medicine”, today it is offered by many famous language schools and centers.

There are special areas for foreign specialists who do not have experience in the UK - they are aimed at intensive study of specialized vocabulary and terms. Education is carried out in several directions:

  • Patient Communication
  • Developing a strategy to improve understanding with patients
  • Medical slang, idioms and common phrases
  • Specific terminology
  • Words and phrases that patients use (required for medical history)
  • General English
  • Medical special language
  • Abbreviations accepted in the medical community
  • Comparison of words and terms used in everyday life and while working with patients.

Specialists are taught to read case histories, medical newspapers and magazines, specialized newspapers and articles; they learn by ear to accept patients' complaints, understand the symptoms of their illness, study telephone etiquette and the rules of communication with other doctors. Attention is paid even to special intonation: the doctor must be able to talk with any patient with interest, show sympathy and participation.

Such courses are usually conducted individually (cost is approximately 1,200 £ per week), or individual lessons are combined with group classes (approximately 950 £ per week). A great way to save money is to come to study as a single group from one medical institution: in this case, the course will cost about 1,780 £ per week for all students in the group. When choosing a school or center (especially if you will also take part in the practical part of the education there), pay attention to whether there are practicing doctors in the staff of teachers who have passed the PLAB exam personally. If so, feel free to sign up!

2. Ready for the PLAB exam?

If you have successfully passed IELTS and are confident in your knowledge of medical terminology, feel free to submit your application for the PLAB exam. To do this, you need to fill out the registration form on the GMC website, attach a language certificate and confirmation of medical certification to it, and pay a registration fee. After reviewing the documents, GMC will send you an invitation and admission to the exam.

PLAB consists of 2 parts: theoretical and practical. PLAB 1 will require you to provide answers to questions on various specialties (expanded compliance group of questions ). A total of 4 skill blocks are tested:

  1. Diagnosis (taking into account the gender, age of the patient, the symptoms observed and their duration, complaints, specifics, be able to make a preliminary correct diagnosis);
  2. Conducting an examination (the doctor must determine the set of tests and analyzes that the patient must pass with certain complaints). As an alternative, the opportunity is offered to make a diagnosis based on the tests already performed and the results obtained during the examination;
  3. Treatment (using the data of anamnesis and examinations, the results of the tests, the doctor must determine the course of treatment, and without fail taking into account the features and side effects of various drugs);
  4. Other.

The fourth block of skills is more general and voluminous than the first three. They may offer you to explain the nature of the disease, the probable causes of the ailment (taking into account the physiology and pathologies of the patient), state the ethical principles of the doctor’s work, the legal aspects of the practice, and may be given an assignment on epidemiology, a healthy lifestyle and its propaganda, and valeology. This item will be easier to pass if you carefully read the latest publications of specialized newspapers, directories and magazines, as well as materials on the GMC website.

The exam part of PLAB 1 itself consists of 200 questions, divided into thematic blocks: each block is under the corresponding heading (it talks about what problem will be raised and what you need to know and be able to solve it). All answers should be the only correct ones, and the result depends on the number of correct answers.

The second part of the exam, PLAB 2, is practical tests: Objectively Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE). They aim to convince the examination committee that the specialist knows how to apply theoretical knowledge in practice - for this purpose special stations with various practical tasks are organized. The examiner gives only 5 minutes to work at each station, and it is impossible to stay at the station longer than the prescribed time - the next candidate immediately follows you, and you must give him a place, regardless of whether you completed the task or not.

PLAB 1 can be handed over at the British Council office in your country (tests are carried out 3 times a year, the cost is 145 £), but PLAB 2 is rented out exclusively in London (the cost is already 430 £).

3. Never give up

The difficulty in getting to work as a doctor in the UK is underlined by the high competition between medical staff. Already in 2006, there was an increase in the number of graduates of medical schools in Britain by about 20%. More than 100 applicants for 1 place are responding to vacancies among junior medical personnel (that is, among specialists with little work experience)! Alas, foreign students who received a certificate after successfully passing the PLAB exam in 20-40% of the cases do not find a job within six months after passing the tests. If, in spite of everything, you are ready to overcome all difficulties and are confident in your abilities - stock up on patience and perseverance, and then you will succeed!

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