Working as a doctor in the UK is an attractive prospect for many - the National Health Service is one of the best in the world, there are many job opportunities and salaries are competitive. But gaining access to work in the UK requires a high level of English - both everyday and medical specific. You may also be required to pass an academic IELTS and PLAB examination before you can retrain and register to work in the NHS. Considering that doctors have an intense and sometimes unpredictable work schedule, getting to English classes in your area regularly could be problematic, which is where online English classes over Skype are the perfect solution. Not only are the classes flexible to fit around your free time but as they are one - to - one you can really focus on achieving the most out of your lessons so you can practice exactly what you need to perfect your medical English.
IELTS and PLAB exams
Most medical professionals moving to work in the UK are required to achieve a minimum of 7 across all 4 sections of the IELTS academic exam. Finding the right course and the right teacher are key to ensuring that you have the best chance of achieving your goals and ELTS have many teachers experienced in helping students achieve their desired IELTS score and go on to fulfill their goals. Check out our blogs on Online IELTS teacher and IELTS - What you need to know for more information or request a free trial to discuss your IELTS exam preparation with one of our teachers.
International doctors wishing to register and practice in the UK may also need to pass the PLAB 1 & 2 examinations, designed to test your English proficiency for working safely and effectively as a Senior House Officer in a UK NHS hospital. PLAB 1 consists of 200 match/ best answer questions and lasts 3 hours and PLAB 2 is an objective structured clinical exam which lasts approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Before considering taking any examinations you will also need to check on World Health Organisation Directory of Medical Schools that your primary medical degree is accepted in the UK.
Get the right terminology
Medical English is not all that difficult to translate due to its Latin root and most doctors should already be able to discuss treatments, symptoms, illnesses, conditions and medicines in English. Whilst an online medical English course will, of course, make sure you are confident with all professional terminology there is lots of important vocabulary not to be overlooked:
Abbreviations - taking their initials from the Latin, not all countries use the same medical abbreviations that are found in the UK. Necessary for patient notes and conversations between colleagues, they are an important part of medical English so make sure you know them!
Colloquialisms - when dealing with members of the public you are prepared for the fact that they won't be using correct medical terminology but you must also consider they might be using slang. You might know "a trauma to the head" but are you also familiar with "a bash on the noggin" for example? Speaking to people from different regions and age groups means you might hear reference to body parts, symptoms or occurrences that you haven't heard before, and whilst you probably won't be using them yourself it's a good idea to be familiar with some common slang you will probably hear.
Idioms - Not as necessary to be aware of as colloquial medical English, however commonly used idioms for talking about health in general are quite nice to know. Feeling a bit under the weather? Is your patient out of the woods and on the mend? Native speaking colleagues may well use some of these expressions and you may feel a bit lost if you have never heard them before. English has many unusual ways to describe our health and how we're feeling so it's a good idea to get to grips with some of them.
Role play consultations
One of the most important parts of a medical English course is making sure you are confident and able to talk to patients effectively, especially when conducting a consultation or taking medical history. By role playing with a teacher who has some medical background or knowledge they will be able to guide you in the right direction, such as typical phrases and wordings you should be using and making sure that your grammar is correct, for example most questions will be in the form of present perfect (have you eaten today? How long have you had this pain?) By discussing symptoms, asking questions and suggesting treatments you can start to feel more confident in your medical English and highlight any particular areas you may need to cover in more detail.
Most countries will have a similar structure to their patient notes but it's always a good idea to get familiar with paperwork you will be using and creating on a regular basis. Looking at example patient notes from the UK and clerking procedures will ensure that you are fully comfortable with the format of medical paperwork in the UK and can analyse and understand everything clearly.
There are many other things an online medical English course with ELTS can offer you - from recommended online resources to audio examples of patient consultations and much more. Learning one - on - one with a qualified ESL teacher who also has medical knowledge is key to ensuring that your transition to working in the UK is a little bit easier and all your professional needs and concerns are met. Get in touch today to find out more about our medical English courses.