Professional Competence Requirements for Overseas Doctors

Doctors who plan to work overseas for less than one year

In general, a short break (less than one year) will be easy to accommodate by continuing to engage in maintenance of professional competence activities while practising overseas and making up any deficit on return to usual practice in Ireland. Postgraduate training bodies will offer support and guidance to doctors who plan to work overseas.

Doctors who volunteer overseas

If you usually practise medicine in Ireland, are enrolled in a professional competence scheme and plan to take a short break to volunteer overseas, you should contact the recognised postgraduate training body operating the scheme. A short break (less than one year) will be easy to accommodate by continuing to engage in maintenance of professional competence activities while volunteering overseas and making up any deficit on return to usual practice in Ireland.

Doctors who volunteer overseas include the following;

  • Doctors providing occasional services – rescue services / sports 
  • Doctors working for charities

Doctors who usually practise medicine outside of Ireland OR Doctors who intend to take a long break to practise medicine overseas

A doctor based overseas will maintain their professional competence in line with requirements set out by the Medical Council.

Doctors practising medicine in countries where there are established structured maintenance of professional competence programmes in place (e.g. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States of America) can pursue requirements to maintain competence in the jurisdiction in which they are practising medicine. Engaging in activities to maintain professional competence in line with requirements set by the Medical Council will be straightforward and doctors pursuing this approach will find that the requirements set by the Medical Council are very similar to the requirements set by other countries.

Alternatively, doctors may wish to contact a professional competence scheme operated by a recognised postgraduate training body. The continuous professional development activity the doctor is engaged in while in another country may be recognised and accredited by the postgraduate training body, while the doctor may avail of the scheme's facility for planning, recording and managing professional competence activities. As with all doctors enrolled in a professional competence scheme operated by a postgraduate training body, doctors may be required to participate in a verification process to provide evidence to support your recorded activities.

A doctor practising medicine outside the State will make a declaration to the Medical Council regarding maintenance of professional competence when applying annually to retain registration. Failure to make this declaration will place your continuing registration at risk. If a doctor is selected for audit, the Medical Council may seek supporting evidence to demonstrate you are not practising medicine in the State and that you are engaged in the maintenance of professional competence through a local structured maintenance of professional competence programme.

Doctors Practising in Countries where there are no professional competence structures in place

Some doctors may practise in health systems where they cannot pursue a structured maintenance of professional competence programme, as there are none in place.
In exceptional situations where a local structured maintenance of professional competence programme is not available, you will be asked to provide appropriate evidence. Please do not submit evidence of CPD activity to the Medical Council unless you are requested to do so. Further details will issue to you if you are selected for audit.

A doctor practising overseas pursuing this approach to maintenance of professional competence who comes to practise medicine in Ireland will enrol in a professional competence scheme operated by a recognised postgraduate training body in Ireland when a cumulative total of greater than 30 days per year has been spent in the practise of medicine in Ireland.

If a European Economic Area (EEA) State citizen is fully established to practise medicine in another member State, the doctor may practise medicine in Ireland on a temporary and occasional basis without having to take out specialist or general registration.

A doctor may choose to voluntarily withdraw from the Medical Council’s register and seek restoral upon return to practice in the State.

Additional Information