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How To Find A Clinical Attachment in the UK

Published on: 12 Aug 2022

Finding a clinical attachment in the UK

If you are an international medical graduate (IMG) considering practising medicine in the UK, you may have investigated possible ways to gain clinical work experience. A great way to familiarise yourself with a UK doctor’s work and the National Health Service (NHS), which will be your employer, is to find clinical attachments. 

Moreover, completing a clinical attachment has been shown to be particularly beneficial before or shortly after passing part two of your PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board) exam. As such, this article aims to provide you with insight into possible pathways to clinical attachments as an IMG.


What is a clinical attachment?

A clinical attachment is an opportunity to gain work experience in medicine, as well as an overview of the medical processes and systems in the UK. This takes place in the form of clinical placements which typically last two to four months and cost from £400. 

Your duties and responsibilities are limited; you will mostly be observing a consultant in a relevant specialty. After a certain period of clinical observation, you may undergo risk assessment which will allow you to begin taking on some clinical responsibilities.

Your duties will be restricted to:

  • Observing consultations

  • Participating in patient administration

  • Taking patient histories

  • Physical examination

  • Observing surgery



First and foremost, you must have already graduated from medical school, and hence possess an MBChB degree or equivalent; if you are still a medical student, you cannot apply. However, this does not mean you must wait until graduation to gain valuable clinical experience in the UK if you are contemplating working there in the future. 

You may wish to undertake a medical elective through a UK university as part of your medical degree programme. Requirements to apply for medical electives differ from university to university and you should consult their respective websites as they provide guidance on arranging an elective, as well as potential medical elective ideas. Moreover, you may even be able to acquire funding for completing your medical elective abroad.


Once you have completed medical school and are an IMG, you must meet certain criteria prior to your application:

  • Successful completion of a criminal records check

  • Documents giving your proof of identity

  • If you are not a native English speaker, you will need an IELTS or OET certificate at level 7.5 or an equivalent level of English that you can demonstrate

  • Occupational health clearance from the NHS trust

  • Attendance at the doctor’s induction day before the attachment commences, if applicable

  • Satisfactory references from referees cited in the application form


Finding Clinical Attachments

There are no specific nationwide application platforms for securing a clinical attachment. Instead, some individual NHS trusts or hospitals run their own clinical attachment programme. This means you can simply go onto their webpages and follow their application process. These programmes match you to a consultant working within your chosen specialty. 

Some examples of deaneries running an established clinical attachment programme are as follows:

  • Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust

  • Guy’s & Thomas’ Hospital

  • Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust

  • Moorfields Eye Hospital

  • University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

  • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde


This is not an exhaustive list; you can search for other clinical attachments by typing the name of your desired hospital + “clinical attachment” into Google.

Furthermore, you may visit hospital websites and navigate to a list of consultants working within your specialty of interest. There, you should also find their contact details and you can email them directly to ask for potential hospital placements or work. 

If you are unsure about individual consultants, you could also email the department administration team to ask about options and availability. Do not be discouraged if a consultant or department rejects your request, or does not reply at all, as they will have to dedicate a good amount of time and effort to your supervision, which can be rather difficult to manage for them. Keep on emailing consultants; after all, every rejection only brings you closer to a positive response.

Alternatively, you could try asking friends or family who already work in an NHS hospital, or know someone who does. Having contacts can prove advantageous in general, and therefore, you should try to take on every networking opportunity you come across, such as conferences and other international events.

Regardless of which route you take to find clinical work experience in the UK, there are specific details you should include in your email to consultants or departments when requesting a clinical attachment.

The BMA recommends including the following:

  • Your personal details

  • Your reasons for wanting to complete a clinical attachment

  • A brief outline of your medical background, your career ambitions, and why you are interested in this field in particular

  • What you hope to get from the clinical attachment

  • Your level of clinical expertise and your previous work experience in healthcare

  • Whether you are applying for GMC (General Medical Council) registration and what stage in the process you have reached

  • A current CV (you may wish to refer to further guidance on writing a good medical CV on the BMJ Careers website or get your CV checked by an expert)


Planning to work in the UK? Join BMA International Affiliate Membership



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  3. Guidance on Clinical Attachments. General Medical Council. Available from:

  4. Clinical Attachment. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Available from:

  5. Clinical Attachments an Electives. NHS University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire. Available from:

  6. Electives at medical school. NHS Healthcareers. Available from:

  7. Savvy IMG -