In the United Kingdom, there are approximately 3,400 Chiropractors, and the title of Chiropractor is 'protected.' This means that calling yourself a Chiropractor without being registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) is illegal.
The GCC is in charge of regulating the profession and upholding standards. If you received your training outside of the UK, you must pass the Test of Competence (TOC) before you can practise here. To put it another way, the TOC is the UK's Board Exam, and the GCC is required by law to administer it.
How difficult is it to pass the TOC?
Everyone finds it challenging, but I'll explain how you can make it easier. The important thing to remember at this point is that it is not any more difficult than anything you completed at university.
Any well-prepared Chiropractor can pass the TOC with flying colours. The information you will learn will help you better understand working in the United Kingdom, and you may become a better chiropractor as a result. Working as a Chiropractor is a privilege and passing the TOC will bring you closer to working in the United Kingdom.
The factors that make passing the TOC difficult
- No explicit knowledge of what the TOC panel are looking for.
- Incomplete or poor information on your application.
- Lack of theoretical understanding of The Code.
- Not studying hard enough.
- If you are a chiropractor with poor interviewing skills.
- Not enough training and preparation.
Key Point: Without proper action, taking the TOC could be a nightmare.
For starters, obtaining the necessary knowledge can be overwhelming for applicants. Some people are taken aback by the amount of information they must learn and remember.
The truth is that many chiropractors are talented and pick up information rapidly. Some, on the other hand, have not studied at a high level in a long time and are feeling rusty. However, if you put in the effort, anyone can learn what they need to know. Unfortunately, if a candidate is unclear about what is necessary, obtaining a PASS will be challenging.
Is it easier for a new graduate to pass the TOC?
New graduates have an advantage in that they are generally up to date on the most recent processes and procedures. However, this is offset by their lack of real-world clinical experience. It's all swings and roundabouts.
In our experience, a new graduate's real advantage is their ability to study a large volume of material at the required level.
Most experienced DCs discover that they must revisit things they did at university. And you must be well-versed in the GCC Code.
This will include but is not limited to:
- Patient notes at a high standard.
- A thorough examination process.
- Due diligence (red flags).
- A relevant differentials list.
- Demonstrating a biopsychosocial approach to patient care.
If you are smart, you will know to study the crucial elements of the patient examination. Because the TOC content is so extensive, trying to learn everything will be intimidating for any chiropractor. This is why it's critical to seek the right advice and support.
On the TOC, what are they looking for?
One of the most important aspects of the TOC is that they want to see if you understand the difference between working where you are now and working in the United Kingdom.
I’m very motivated, how long will it take me to pass the TOC?
As a general rule, from start to finish, we recommend allowing four months. This is because preparation is the key. The more you do, the easier the test gets. Rush it and not only does the stress go up, but your chances of passing goes down.
How does the TOC work?
The TOC is an interview-based test. Currently, it is done remotely via Microsoft Teams. The panel will consist of three assessors (all chiropractors), usually two men and one woman. It lasts approximately two hours. At some point it will resume in person in London.
Whilst it can be a nerve-wracking experience, the test itself is not designed to catch you out. It is there to make sure the public are fully protected, and you understand the scope of practice for chiropractors in the UK.
How quickly do you find out the result?
Typically, a week later by email.
Is it a straight pass or fail?
It will be:
- The candidate has met all the TOC standards and is eligible to apply for registration.
- Partial Pass. The candidate has not sufficiently satisfied the panel to establish that they have met the TOC standards in particular areas. These will be specified. Further evidence is required before a final decision can be made.
- The candidate has not provided sufficient evidence in the majority of areas and will need to sit the TOC again.
When I pass, what then?
Congratulations, you are then eligible to apply to register on the GCC website which is a legal requirement in order to work in the UK.
Learning something new always presents its own set of challenges. Our advice is to think of the TOC and its preparation as a job of work. It will be difficult. It will be tense. However, it will be worthwhile.