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Managing your medical education, whilst out of work

If you are currently unable to work as a doctor due to a period of illness or injury, but are planning to return to work in due course, it is essential to keep up-to-date with your educational training and continuing professional development. Professor John Betteridge, Dean of the Royal Society of Medicine, outlines the resources available to help you stay in touch.


One of the most important considerations for doctors not currently working is the issue of revalidation. All licensed doctors, working or not, are required to demonstrate that they are up-to-date and fit to practise in their chosen field. Of particular concern for doctors who are not working is that they may not have a designated body to support them with their revalidation. There is guidance for doctors in this position on the General Medical Council website and there is also information about revalidation on the websites of the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons.

Medical education

Key to successfully completing the annual appraisals that form the backbone of the revalidation process is continuing your medical educational. Attending courses may not be practical if you are not working and possibly unable to travel but there are plenty of online e-learning options. For example the RCGP eLearning programme has a wide range of courses available to RCGP members, non-members and other primary healthcare professionals, many free of charge. If you continue to hold an NHS contract of employment, another programme offering high quality content free of charge is e-Learning for Healthcare, a Health Education England project developed in collaboration with the NHS and professional bodies. RSM Videos is an online platform hosting key educational lectures organised by the Royal Society of Medicine with many available free of charge and others offering CPD available on a pay-per-view fee.


Learning from home has also been boosted by the advent of open-access medical publications giving free access to a wealth of research papers and other valuable content. In the UK alone free content is available from journals including the BMJ, the Lancet, the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and JRSM Open. The US-based Public Library of Science is another open-access organisation, publishing a range of journals across all areas of science and medicine, including PLOS Medicine.

How else can the RSM help?

The RSM is working in partnership with the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund, offering a reduced rate of membership for RMBF beneficiaries who are eligible for charitable help, providing them with access to the complete range of journals, videos and e-learning materials.  Please note that this is available only for eligible RMBF beneficiaries who have been awarded a Back-to-Work Award.  (For further information and the RMBF eligibility criteria, please see

There are also special arrangements for access to the RSM’s extensive e-learning resources available to medical students who are currently unable to study due to illness or injury.

For more information contact:
RSM Membership Department on 020 7902 2991.

In addition to the resources mentioned above, there are other opportunities for learning through the RSM for those doctors who are not working but able to get into London for a lecture or attend one of our regional events. Many of the RSM’s flagship lectures, which cover topics from neuroscience to genomics, are free to attend and there are special rates for doctors who are not working but who wish to attend meetings focusing on specific specialties. For more information visit the programme of events on the RSM website.


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