How to Find Locum Work Without NHS Experience
If you're an international medical graduate (IMG) who has moved from abroad to work in the UK, it can be a challenge to find locum work before you have experience working within the NHS. But it is possible, as long as you put a couple of essential things in place and approach your search in the right way.
In this article, we'll provide some useful tips and recommendations to help you find locum shifts in the UK without NHS experience.
Firstly, there are two things you'll need, which are non-negotiable for IMGs, to be eligible to work as a locum doctor at hospitals in the UK. These are:
1️⃣ A valid General Medical Council (GMC) number, with full licence to practice.
2️⃣ The right to work in the UK. This will require a British passport, indefinite leave to remain, a spousal visa, or something similar.
With locum work, hospitals here in the UK ideally prefer to work with doctors with extensive experience in the NHS. However, due to staff shortages and widespread demand for locum doctors, there are still opportunities available for you even if you're yet to work in a UK setting.
Our Top Tips
Once you have your GMC license and your right to work in the UK secured, you can begin to look for locum opportunities. Here are some of our top tips to help you maximise your chances of finding your first NHS locum job.
🤸🏽♀️ Be as flexible as possible
You should see your first locum job as an investment in your CV. It's unlikely to be your dream role, but it will count as valuable experience.
With this in mind, you'll benefit from being more flexible than usual. That could mean the willingness to travel further from home, accept a lower rate than you'd ideally want, work more nights or weekends, or work in a less preferable specialty.
If your personal circumstances allow it, this flexibility will increase your chances of finding your first locum job.
Once you have that first locum shift on your CV, which will tick the "NHS Experience" box when applying for future opportunities, you'll then be able to focus on jobs that are more suited to your preferences.
🏥 Get some clinical attachments
Finding a clinical attachment is another useful step to take when looking for locum work as well. These are short-term unpaid placements for IMGs who need experience working within the NHS.
You can read this article from the British Medical Association for some additional tips which will help you with this.
🩺 Update your CV
Locuming can be highly competitive, so take the time to make your CV stand out as much as possible. When applying for locum work, it's important to ensure your CV highlights your clinical expertise and the procedures in which you're competent.
We'll soon be publishing detailed guidance to help you optimise your CV specifically for locum opportunities. Keep an eye out for that on our blog in the coming weeks.
📝 Prepare your registration documents
To work as a locum doctor in the NHS, whether via a locum agency or directly with an NHS hospital, you'll need to complete a registration process. This is where documentation like your right to work, GMC status, criminal record, and references will all be checked.
You should get your onboarding and compliance documents together in advance, so you can then complete your registration process as quickly as possible.
📚 Read up on how to find locum work
When applying for locum work, you should be as proactive as possible. That includes doing plenty of research, to help you tailor your approach to the specific types of opportunities you're looking for.
Visit our Locum Doctor Hub for a comprehensive collection of resources covering all things related to being a locum doctor, including pay, finding shifts, working with locum agencies, and more.
⏳ Be patient
You should also remember that finding locum work without previous NHS experience may take some time, and will require patience, but don't give up!
Keep talking to the locum agencies you're working with as often as possible, and keep them up-to-date if your circumstances change at all.
Looking for Locum Work?
Messly's locum service makes looking for locum work simpler, more transparent, and puts you in control of finding your perfect role. As a doctor without NHS experience, you're perfectly eligible to join, subject to certain criteria. You can register with your GMC number here.
This article is part of a wider series, supporting doctors like yourself with a comprehensive set of guides and articles to ensure you have the best possible experience working as a locum doctor. These cover everything from working with locum agencies, help finding work, managing your finances, and tips for making the most of your time. Click here to visit our Locum Doctor Hub to explore the full list of resources.
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