Valentina is a “Harvey” English medical school graduate from University of Pavia,  and she is starting work as a Foundation Year (FY1) Doctor in London in few weeks. In this fascinating guest-post she will share her experience in getting the Provisional registration (for FY1) in the UK as an Italian graduate. 

Special thanks goes to Erik Campano for his editor’s work.

I have never had a blog and I am not a very skilled writer, but I will try to write something regarding my new UK adventure anyway. I apologise in advance for any mistakes 😛

Soooooooo…. Let’s start from the beginning! I have been asked to describe, briefly, how I got this post, and how registration works here in the UK. I know it would be better to do things in chronological order, but I would like to start from registration, since it’s one of the last things I did, and I still remember it quite well. Unfortunately, the same does not apply for the application, since I did it one year ago!

Just to make things clearer, this is a short — and very rough — description regarding how speciality training works in the UK, after you graduate.

First of all, you apply to the so called “Foundation Programme” of two years. Your level would be F1 and F2 doctor (sometimes also called House Officer and Senior House Officer, respectively).

  • Foundation Year 1 corresponds to internship, and is required in order to obtain a full registration.
  • Foundation Year 2. During the second year, you do six rotations, in both medical and surgical wards. One of the rotations is often as a general practitioner.

Then you start Core Training, again two years in different specialities according to what you would like to do. In other words, if you want to do a clinical speciality, you do clinical rotations instead of surgical ones. Core Training doctors are known as CT1 and CT2.

Finally, you apply for your preferred speciality. The length depends on the chosen speciality, but I think it is around four years. The entrance for both core training and speciality training is competitive. There are some specialities that have only one competitive entrance process, such as paediatrics. In these cases, you immediately start speciality training for six or seven years — I cannot remember which, exactly — and you do not do core training. So you would be known as an ST3, ST4, etc.


If you start as an FY1, you need to apply for a provisional registration. This means that you have never done a previous internship. Otherwise, you should apply for a full registration, and in that case you would start immediately as an FY2. This also applies to our internship in Italy; if you pass the final exam (Esame di Stato) and get what is known as an abilitazione, you cannot apply for provisional registration and for FY1. In other words, Foundation Year 1 corresponds to our three-month internship.

For the provisional registration, you first apply online, on the GMC website. There is a clear application guide on it, and at the end of 11 pages, you start your application. You will need to register on the website, pay your fee (provisional registration costs £90, while full registration costs more), and answer some questions (such as personal details, your graduation day, what you did from the day of the graduation until now, and so forth). It is all very easy and clear.

After the online application, you will receive an email from the GMC requesting few documents and certificates. This email is very clear, and you just need to do what they ask.

In my case, I was asked to provide the following. (I will copy and paste part of their email.)

We need a photocopy of every document listed below. To make sure you have included everything, please print a copy of this email and tick each item as you enclose it.

  1. [ ] Passport or identity card (we need a copy of the page(s) with your photo ID and personal details).
  2. [ ] European primary qualification

You must hold a Diploma di laurea in medicina e chirurgia (degree in medicine and surgery) or Diploma di laurea specialistica in medicina e chirurgia awarded by an Italian university.

  1. [ ] English translation of the document above
  2. [ ] Employment reference to cover your clinical attachment from 1st November 2015 to 12th February 2016

We need you to provide an employment reference covering any periods of medical or non-medical work where you did not hold registration within the last five years. Please download the employer reference form and ask your employer to fully complete the form on your behalf.“

Now I will explain what I sent (which was accepted):

1- Passport. There’s not much to write about that. 😛

2- European primary qualification. I asked my university to give me a Certificato di laurea. Even though we did an English course, and we already have a degree certificate in English, they also require the Italian version of it. Beware that the Carton Degree (la pergamena) is not accepted because it is digitally signed. Instead, they want a signed and stamped certificate.

3- English translation of the certificate. I just asked the university to provide an English version of the degree certificate.

4- Employment reference. This will not be asked of everybody. In my case, I did an observership while waiting for my starting date, so they also asked me to provide an employer’s reference regarding that post (even though I was not employed). (Anyway, I did as they wanted.)

Moreover, in order to get a licence to practise, they will also ask you to prove your English level. The easiest way to do so is by providing an IELTS certificate that has a score of at least 7.5 in each domain. (I do not remember if the overall score should be 7.5 or 8, but you can find it on their website.)

I sent all these papers (photocopies!) by post to the provided address in Manchester, and in few weeks, during which they analyse your application, they invited you to an Identity Check, which is an appointment in which you bring all the original copies of the documents above and they verify them. You can then book your appointment online. Beware that places go quickly, so try to book an appointment as soon as possible. (If you can’t make it, then you can cancel it online later.) You can choose to do the Identity Check either in Manchester or in London.

The Identity Check is really easy. You will be called by the officer, and you will go together into their office. Here, you will fill in some forms, they will check the original documents (except for the IELTS because they can verify it with the British Council), and that’s it! You will then receive your GMC registration by post, I did not have a British address at that time, and they sent it to my Italian address without problems. Please note: on the Internet I have read that sometimes they do complain about people that graduated in July, because, since our courses begin in September, “you have not completed ALL the six years of Medicine”. I do not know if this is true or not. Just to be on the safe side, I decided to graduate in October.

Just a note regarding the timing of your application to the FY1:

I have been asked sometimes if it is possible to apply for the Foundation Year 1 when you are doing the fifth year of medicine at university. Indeed, you apply for the programme one year before you would start work.

Each year the Foundation Programme starts at the beginning of August; the application starts the previous year, in July. Some have wondered if it is possible to start immediately after graduation (if they graduate in July), by applying in July during the fifth year, instead of the sixth year. Unfortunately it is not. The application for registration takes up to three months, and even if you try to do all things as soon as possible, it will not take less than one month. After the online registration, you will receive an email from the GMC about one week later. Then, you have to send all the documents by post (which takes time), they will review it (another couple of weeks), and you will need to come for an identity check. All in all, it is impossible to start immediately after graduation, if you graduate in July, because you will not be registered on time.

I hope I have been clear enough. I really did my best to try to explain the whole registration process! 🙂 I will try to write you soon regarding the application!

Take care and let me know if you have any questions!

Alex Ochakovski (Pavia)