The mission of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is to set standards to improve women's health and the clinical practice of obstetrics and gynaecology both in the UK and across the world. One of the principal means of achieving this aim is through the College's provision of education, training, assessment and professional development.
Overseas doctors' training schemes (ODTS) were instituted by the Department of Health after the Second World War to arrange postgraduate training in the UK for overseas doctors. Under the schemes the Department arranged training posts for doctors from overseas, monitored training and negotiated with the Home Office over visas. During the 1970s the Royal Medical Colleges were also developing their own procedures for assisting and advising overseas doctors wishing to train in the UK. In the late 1980s responsibility for developing their own training schemes, including sponsorship, was passed to the Royal Medical Colleges.
In 1983 the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists decided to expand its existing arrangements, which had hitherto been confined to the placement of postgraduates financed by funds from overseas in unpaid supernumerary posts. Double sponsorship schemes were therefore initiated, the overseas sponsor normally being the national or regional representative committee of the College; in countries without such committees, sponsorship by Fellows or Members, or exceptionally, deans of medical schools was considered. Placement of sponsored trainees and their subsequent supervision was the responsibility of the College's Director of Postgraduate Studies. In 1986, a Sponsorship Officer was appointed.
In 1994, the ODTS section within the College acquired a careers side, run by a Careers Officer, who produced careers advice and guidelines. The section was renamed as the Overseas Doctors Training Fellowship in 2001, and maintained records of overseas doctors who had passed the MRCOG.
The Overseas Doctors Training Scheme (ODTS) came under the responsibility of the Postgraduate Training Department, and was open to doctors planning to take the membership examination of the College (MRCOG), as well as to others wishing to visit the UK for further experience. The scheme was also known as 'The Sponsorship Scheme' and requirements for entry were that the doctor should hold a medical qualification acceptable for registration with the British General Medical Council, together with 18 months recognised post-registration training, sponsorship by a Fellow or Member of the College, and possession of good written and oral English skills.
Acceptance on the ODTS allowed the applicant restricted exemption from the requirement to pass the test of professional knowledge and competence in English. The RCOG found training posts for applicants by submitting curriculum vitaes to consultant obstetricians and gynaecologists in the NHS. The training took the form of apprenticeships type of training, with relatively few formal teaching sessions, and was either at senior house officer or registrar grade for a period of six months, renewable for another six months if performance was found to be satisfactory.
In 2008 the scheme was renamed the International Doctors Training Programme.