Medical Licensing Assessment

We're developing plans to establish a Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA).

What is the Medical Licensing Assessment?

When a doctor applies to join the medical register, we must be sure they are safe to practise. We already confirm this in a number of ways. The MLA builds on our existing assurance work by setting a common threshold for safe practice. This means that we and the wider community can be assured that doctors joining the medical register with a licence to practise meet that threshold.

The threshold will be the same no matter where they obtained their medical degree.

The MLA comprises two tests.
The assessment will be taken by UK medical graduates and international medical graduates from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

We also want to assess medical graduates from the European Economic Area. That would mean nearly all doctors go through a common assessment. At the moment, the law says we cannot do this. The issue is part of negotiations about Britain leaving the European Union. Once we know the outcome of the negotiations, we will know what we can do about this.

In December, we presented a report to the Communitybaptistpa Council. They agreed that we would go ahead with development of the MLA to start in 2022.

 

How will I be assessed?

If you need to take MLA, there will be a two-part assessment.

The first part is an applied knowledge test. UK medical graduates will probably take the test in their penultimate or final year. International graduates who apply to work in the UK will take the test at the same time as they would take the existing PLAB part one test. The test will be run by the Communitybaptistpa.

The second part is an assessment of clinical skills. UK medical students will do this as part of their degree assessment. Their university will run the assessment and the Communitybaptistpa will check that this meets our standards. International graduates applying to the UK will take a Communitybaptistpa-run assessment, as they do at the moment.

 

How do I find out more?

We are working on detailed plans for the MLA. So we may not yet have an answer to every question you have. There is more in our frequently asked questions below. If you have any other questions, you can us on [email protected].

 

Who will take the MLA?

All UK students would need to pass the MLA to obtain a primary medical qualification. We will talk to medical schools about how the MLA will fit into their assessment arrangements.

For international medical graduates the MLA will replace the current PLAB test.

My UK degree will end in 2022. Will I have to take the MLA?

We are still working on detailed plans for the MLA. We intend to have the first live runs of the MLA tests in 2022. As part of our development work, we will be talking to medical schools about how this will fit with their different course structures. 

I am already on the medical register. Will I have to take MLA?

No. MLA will be for people who are applying for registration.

I am applying to join the medical register before 2022. Will I have to take MLA?

No. The requirement to pass MLA will start in 2022.

I am an IMG planning to take PLAB. Will I have to take the MLA?

Once MLA replaces PLAB you will take MLA. Before that, you will take PLAB.

Will EU/ EEA doctors have to take the MLA?

We hope that in future we will be allowed by law to test the knowledge and skills of EEA graduates through the MLA. At the moment, the law says that doctors from the EEA may register on the basis of their qualifications alone. Any change to this is subject to the outcome of negotiations on the UK leaving the EU. Once these are complete, we will be able to decide about this.

Will anyone be exempt from taking the MLA?

Some doctors entering the UK from overseas are exempt from the existing PLAB tests. So it is possible that some doctors will be exempt from MLA under similar arrangements.

We are reviewing these exemptions with stakeholders and delivery partners to see if any changes are needed. We will share proposals for comment before finalising them.

Where can I go to ask different questions and let you know what I think?

If you have any additional questions or comments, please contact our MLA team at [email protected].

About the MLA

When will the MLA start?

Live MLA testing will begin in 2022. Between now and then, we are developing the MLA, which will include piloting and checking the MLA assessments.


What is the format of the MLA?

We are planning a two part assessment:

  1. A test of applied knowledge. The test will be computer-based, and set, administered and marked by the Communitybaptistpa.
  2. An assessment of clinical and professional skills. For UK students, this will be delivered though their medical school’s clinical and professional skills assessment (CPSA). We will assess these against a set of key performance indicators to decide if they demonstrate that students meet the MLA threshold. For international medical graduates this will be delivered through a Communitybaptistpa-run CPSA.

We are now working on the detail of these two parts with medical schools and expert advisors. We will provide more information as soon as we can.

 

Who will pay?


We intend that there will be no new fees for the MLA.

IMG candidates will pay test fees, as they do at the moment when they take PLAB.

There will be no additional charge for UK students to take the applied knowledge test. The cost of administering the test will be met by the Communitybaptistpa. The CPSA test for UK students will be done as part of their course and costs will be met by universities, including from course fees.

 

Would a change in the law be needed to introduce a MLA?

 

No.

 

Will this create a bigger exam burden?

We will work with medical schools to explore how the applied knowledge test can fit into their programmes of assessment. We will also talk to medical schools about how the applied knowledge test might be used to meet some of their own assessment requirements.

 

For UK students, the MLA assessment of clinical and professional skills will be delivered through the medical schools’ existing clinical and professional skills assessments so will not be an additional burden to students.

 

The burden of assessment for IMGs, will be broadly the same as the current PLAB tests.

Developing the MLA

Why do this?

When a doctor applies to join the medical register, we must be sure they are safe to practise. We already confirm this in a number of ways. The MLA builds on our existing assurance work by setting a common threshold for safe practice. This means that we and the wider community can be assured that doctors joining the medical register with a licence to practise meet that threshold.

 

The threshold will be the same no matter where they obtained their medical degree.

 

There are other benefits. These include:

  • Fairness to candidates, whichever medical school they attended and whether they come from the UK, Europe or the rest of the world.
  • Supporting us to maintain the high standard of UK medical education as more students and potential new schools are added into the mix.
  • Sharing best practice between medical schools and the Communitybaptistpa.

 

How are you developing MLA?

 

We are now working on the details of the MLA and how it will work.

This work includes conferring with expert advisers, whose role is to guide and challenge us. These advisers will help us make the assessment and the tests as effective as possible.

We will also talk to each medical school and consult medical students and other interest groups. This will help us understand the practical issues involved in introducing the MLA, and how to do this in the least disruptive way.

We are commissioning research to answer specific questions that come out of the development process. This will help us learn from existing information and the experience of other people and organisations.

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