DegreeDiary

How to Become a Medical Practitioner in the UK

To become a UK Medical Practitioner you must complete a five-year degree course in medicine followed by a two-year foundation program of general training. You will then opt for specialist training, the duration of which will be dependent on which area of medicine you have chosen to study. You will need strong academic aptitudes for science to gain acceptance onto a degree course and competition for places is very strong.

Skills, interests and qualities

To become a Medical Practitioner you need to demonstrate:

· an ability to work under pressure · excellent communication skills

· a commitment to caring for people

· practical skills in patient examination and clinical procedure

· an aptitude and interest in science, anatomy, physiology and medicine

· the ability to inspire confidence and trust and to put people at their ease

· leadership skills

· a desire to always work to the highest standards

· the desire to keep your skills and knowledge up to date

Work activities

Your work would entail the examination, diagnosis and treatment of patients. Medicine is a very large field and you could specialise in a particular area such as:

Surgery: care of patients prior to, during and following an operation. Specialist areas include; cardiothoracic, neurosurgery or cosmetic surgery.

Medicine: treatment of general medical conditions. Specialist areas include; ophthalmology, geriatrics, paediatrics, cardiology, neurology and dermatology.

Pathology: investigation of the cause and effect of disease. Specialist areas include; molecular genetics and chemical pathology.

Psychiatry: working with patients suffering from mental health problems, your duties could include counseling, psychiatric testing, psychotherapy and prescription of medication. Other areas in which you could choose to specialise include; radiology, oncology, anaesthetics, gynecology and obstetrics.

General Practitioner: working with patients in the community, referring cases to hospital and other healthcare professionals, prescribing drugs. You could also be responsible for leading a team of medical staff, supervising junior staff and completing paperwork including keeping accurate patient records.

Working hours and conditions

Hours are long and usually include nights, weekends and offering emergency cover on a rota basis. EU legislation has now limited the number of hours you could work to 48 per week. Working conditions depend upon your chosen specialism but could include; consulting rooms, wards, specialist units or a GP surgery.

Income Income varies widely depending upon the area you have chosen to specialise in, your experience. Private sector work generally pays more.  

Junior doctor £22,636 - £28,076 per annum     Specialty grade £37,176 - £69,325 per annum     Consultant £75,249 – 101,451 per annum  

Entry requirements

· five-year degree in medicine

· two-year foundation program in general training

· specialist training in your chosen field

To be accepted onto a degree course you will need at least:

· Five GCSEs (A-C) including English, science and maths

· Three ‘A’ levels (grades AAB) in subjects such as biology, chemistry, maths or physics If you already hold a science degree, it may be possible for you to take a four-year graduate entry program into medicine through the Medical Schools Council. You will also be required to take a number of Clinical Aptitude Tests. You may be able to obtain funding through the NHS Student Bursaries scheme, if you are eligible.

Work experience

Most universities will expect you to have acquired some relevant experience in either paid or voluntary work such as:

· hospital auxiliary or healthcare assistant in residential care

· formal work shadowing placement in a GP surgery or hospital

· volunteer work for St John Ambulance or in a hospital

Training and development

Obtaining a degree in medicine is only the beginning. If you wish to qualify as a senior doctor or consultant in your chosen specialist field, you will need to complete two further stages of vocational training. Postgraduate deaneries usually handle recruitment for specialty training and further advice and information can be found at the BMA (British Medical Association) website. Upon successful completion of your training you will be awarded the CCT (Certificate of Completion of Training) and will then be eligible to join the GMC Specialist Register and apply for a licence to practice. If you become a consultant, you will continue to learn throughout your career. Many Royal Colleges have more information on the various aspects of training and the Royal College of Physicians’ website has a list of Royal Colleges and the specialist areas of medicine each covers.

Opportunities

There is very hot competition for places on specialist training programs and you may need to be prepared to relocate if necessary. If you become a consultant, there are often more opportunities in the private sector and you could opt to set up and run your own private clinic. As you gain experience, you could go on to head a team, manage a department, unit or practice. You could also progress to teach and train students, trainee doctors and other healthcare professionals. 

Image source: Shutterstock

Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at http://www.theladywriter.co.uk

Alison Page

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How to Become a Medical Practitioner in the UK

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