Confused what to do after PLAB2??
If you have the time and Visa, try your best to get a clinical attachment. If you have lot of time in hand for PLAB 2 I would in fact suggest you to do it before your PLAB 2. Me and my friends have done 2 clinical attachment during this COVID and it has helped us immensely not only to get acquainted with the NHS system but for our interviews and job profile as well. I personally did Clinical Attachment in General Surgery for 8 weeks followed by another 8 weeks in Acute Medicine and HCOOP. Before seeing what all advantage a Clinical Attachment entails, let’s first see what it is all about.
What is a Clinical Attachment?
A clinical attachment is a short term unpaid placement for a qualified doctor who needs the experience of the NHS. This is an observer role only and the doctor doing a clinical attachment will not have direct patient contact or take on any responsibility. Having said that, some trusts let you do all the clinical jobs like your colleagues in the department under supervision provided you are proactive in initiating one. Remember the consultants are not obliged to take on a clinical attachment; it is voluntary. A clinical attachment gives an insight into working within the NHS in the UK and is a great way for doctors to learn about UK clinical practice and NHS procedures.
Problems with Clinical Attachment
"Clinical attachments are not without challenges. Most of the Clinical attachments are free but few of them are paid and do incur you the costs of processing applications and pre-employment screening and the DBS check (Police clearance). Some trusts charge up to £500 for providing a clinical placement. So look for the free ones and there are plenty of them. Organising clinical attachments from abroad can be difficult for IMGs, especially with limited or no contacts in the UK" - Royal College of Psychiatry.
Advantages of Clinical Attachment
You get used to the NHS and it’s system
You learn the UK way of working—communication, English language and accent, teamwork, consent, patients' involvement, etc
You get to know the role of nursing and other staff members.
You (hopefully) impress the consultants and staff members who might help you in your job search
You learn about the clinical specialty and acquire some useful skills during the whole process
You have a local referee for your job applications
You are more likely to get a job in the same trust or other trusts
You spend time usefully, particularly if you are worried about job and future.
You get acquainted with the IT software that are used to keep patientS record
How to apply for Clinical Attachment?
Finding an attachment in itself is a gruesome process specially given the whole COVID situation it has become tougher than ever. We have listed down a few ways you can apply for the attachment:
By sending emails to different hospital's HR and Consultant, showing interest in becoming a Clinical Attachee.
By calling the hospital number/ Operator and asking for a specific department. It could be an Undergraduate Supervisor, Human Resource (HR) or could be Medical Workforce team.
By applying through a Clinical attachment portal/Service.
Asking your friends/colleagues who have done the attachment or family members who are working in the UK.
One of the best ways to get help is to search various Groups on Facebook and find help
While some HRs would help you find an attachment in the department of your choice others would ask you to look for a Consultant who will be willing to supervise you during your attachment. While the former way is a simple process, the latter is not an easy path to start on.
Let us outline how you can make this a little easier for yourself. This is what the BMA has to say:
"There is no UK-wide tool for finding a clinical attachment. You can search the internet for clinical attachments including NHS hospitals and postgraduate deaneries in your search.
The following list are some examples of trusts running clinical attachment programmes:
Alternatively, you could try asking any friends or family working in an NHS hospital if they can introduce you to a consultant in your speciality.
You could also try emailing consultants directly by looking at hospital websites and navigating to the departments you are interested in".
Trust us when we say that everyone who got a clinical attachment post pulled one or another string at some point of the process. Many would agree and some will still be reluctant. But that's the harsh truth.
RcPsych in this regard have written:
IMGs without any contacts in the UK wishing to pursue a clinical attachment in psychiatry may find it useful to look at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ International Affairs Unit webpage (www.rcpsych.ac.uk/workinpsychiatry/internationalaffairsunit.aspx). The Diaspora group in the College may be able to disseminate the request to its members, who are based in all parts of the UK.
This is the most vital step in finding a Clinical Attachment. Look for Consultants in the branch of choice you like and email them directly to enquire if they are able to accommodate you. Now comes the big Question, how to find the consultants?? Go to this website: 👇 Hospital consultant service search
and then start your exhaustive search. You can search by Consultant name or speciality or by location preference if you have any. Once you have done your initial research and have shortlisted there are now 3 ways to go forward.
Either email the HR of the hospital clearly stating the branch and the consultant you would like to shadow with. Either ask for the consultant's Email id or ask if they can forward your request directly. Additionally, if you can call, it will be easier as you can ask the operator/switchboard for the consultant or their secretary and tell them to help you out.
Make a note of the last part of the HR/the hospital services email id for e.g. sash.nhs.uk. Now use the consultant first name and last name or vice-versa with the specific address of the hospital (X.Y@sash.nhs.uk). We say to use this method from our own experience which we learnt the hard way and you wont have to do any permutation and combination. A lot of emails originating outside nhs.net sent to the HR/doctor goes into Spam box. Unfortunately, I have tried it personally with my Consultants' and Registrars' and saw it happening. I also encountered the same thing from various HRs when called to enquire about the attachment. They said they never received the email and later found it in the 'Spam folder' on checking further. Now, this could be because of various reasons but let's not discuss them here.
If you cannot find the consultant email id or if the email you sent reverted back with 'address not found', you can always find the department email address and the department head/manager would generally forward your email to each consultant available.
What to mention while emailing HR/Consultant:
Ask Friends, Colleagues or Seniors who have done Clinical Attachment:
This can be very advantageous and can work wonders if you know the right acquaintance. Unfortunately, not a lot of us have this advantage. But there are a lot of IMG facebook groups where you can post your query and get help. We have listed few facebook group links which can certainly help you:
PLAB Group 1- Group By Dr Naseer Khan
PLAB Group 2- Plab arena
PLAB Group 3- Group by Road to UK
PLAB 2 & GMC Registration- Group By Dr Naseer Khan
A lot of people will help you out in these groups, make sure to thank them !
Below is a Pdf document that I collected while looking for my clinical attachment.
Remember few starting dates might have changed given the COVID situation but we will try to keep you up to date.
For More updates stay connected with the blog, we will be posting many clinical attachment experience of our friends who did attachment during this COVID period and what's the take home message. All the very Best. Cheers 😎