How To Become A Doctor in the UK: A Step-By-Step Guide

How To Become A Doctor in the UK: A Step-By-Step Guide
If you want to become a doctor in the UK, you will need to put in a lot of hard work. Before you begin your journey, read through our step-by-step guide to learn more about how to become a doctor.

What Does a Medical Doctor Do?

A doctor is a trained medical professional who is qualified to treat people who are ill. Doctors work hard on a daily basis to examine, diagnose and treat patients and to keep people as healthy as possible. As a doctor, you can choose to work as a general practice physician or you can specialise in a particular area of medicine such as paediatrics, oncology or psychiatry.

What Skills & Qualities Do You Need to Become A Doctor?

In addition to having a comprehensive knowledge of your field, you will need to have certain skills and qualities to succeed as a doctor. Some of these include:

  • Communication skills
  • Active listening
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Attention to Detail
  • Empathy
  • Teamwork
  • The ability to stay calm under pressure
  • Time management
  • Organisational skills
  • Conscientiousness
Close up of doctor holding a stethoscope

Reasons to Become a Doctor

1. Helping People in a Meaningful Way

Helping people and making a meaningful contribution to the world is some of the top reasons people choose to become doctors. Working as a doctor is extremely rewarding because you get the chance to make the world a better place by helping others lead healthier and happier lives.

2. The Work is Stimulating

As a doctor, you can be guaranteed that there will never be a dull day. A career in medicine will provide plenty of challenges in which you can use your knowledge to help others. If you are the kind of person who seeks intellectual stimulation in their work, then a career in medicine may be an ideal choice for you.

3. Diverse Career Opportunities

Once you graduate from medical university, you will have the opportunity to specialise in a particular field. The options are vast so you will be sure to find a job that suits your personality, skills and interests. What’s more, doctors are needed across many sectors and as such you not be limited to just working in a hospital. Alternative employers could include the armed forces, the emergency services, and research institutions.

4. Good Salary & Career Stability

Medicine is a well-respected career and there are opportunities for excellent renumeration as you progress through the career ladder.

5. Travel Around the World

Medicine is a globally-recognised field and as such it presents great travel opportunities. As a qualified doctor, there are many ways you can combine your love of travel and medicine. For example, you could see the world and gain valuable experience by joining an international humanitarian trip with an organisation such as Doctors Without Borders. It’s important to bear in mind that every country sets its own standards, so be sure to research these before you pack your bags in case you need to apply for new licences.

Should You Become a Doctor?

The path to becoming a doctor is long and hard, so it’s critical that you take the time to make sure it is the right fit for you before making any commitments. Some questions to ask yourself before deciding to study medicine include:

  • What are my motivations for becoming a doctor?
  • Do I enjoy working with people?
  • Can I remain calm in stressful situations?
  • Am I ready to work hard, for long hours?
  • Am I squeamish?
  • Do I love to learn? Am I prepared to continually improve my skills and experience?
Pen & stethoscope resting on medical documents

How Long Does it Take to Become A Doctor in the UK?

It’s not uncommon to spend about a decade of your life studying medicine. The length of time it takes to become a fully-trained doctor in the UK depends on how specialised and advanced your chosen path is.

How long does it take to become a doctor in the UK

What Are The Steps to Become a Doctor in the UK?

What are the steps to become a doctor in the UK?

1. Get into Medical School

A. As An Undergraduate

UK medical schools typically create their own admissions criteria. Generally speaking, to be eligible for undergraduate entry into a medicine programme , candidates will need a combination of GCSEs, AS levels and A levels. Medical schools in the UK generally accept candidates who have high grades in science subjects and mathematics. Nearly all medical universities in the UK require candidates to take an admissions test and to attend an interview as part of their entry requirements. However, it is worth noting that many universities across Europe offer guaranteed entry and do not have mandatory entrance exams.

B. As A Graduate

If you already have a Bachelor of Science degree in a field related to Medicine, you can apply for Graduate Entry. This pathway allows those with relevant qualifications to fast-track their medical degree by entering the programme in a later year of study. Many candidates opt for graduate entry medicine programmes to further their education and to boost their career prospects.

2. Earn a Medical Degree

Once you have successfully completed your studies, you will graduate from university with a medical degree. Depending on the university programme, you might qualify with an MB, i.e. a Bachelor of Medicine, or with an MBBS, i.e. Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery.

3. Obtain Licensure

If you have received a medical degree abroad and would like to work in the UK, you must first register with the General Medical Council (GMC). As part of this, you must pass certain exams. Please note that if you graduate after the year 2022, you will need to take an exam called the UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA).

4. Foundation Programme (FP)

The next stage is the completion of the Foundation Programme (FP). This is a two year programme in which you spend a few months in different specialities.

5. Specialisation

Upon successful completion of the FP, trainee doctors can choose to continue to work and learn via either GP training or they choose to train in another specialty.

A. GP Training

To become a General Practitioner in the UK, you will need to undertake a minimum of three years of specialty training on a programme that has been approved by the General Medical Council.

B. Speciality Training

Depending on the specialty that you choose, this stage will take 5-8 years to complete. Your first decision will be to choose between a run-through or an uncoupled programme.

o Run-Through:

For programmes of this type, you only have to apply once and are employed for the full duration of the programme.

o Uncoupled:

These programmes comprise core training (lasting 2-3 years) and then competitive entry into higher specialty training.

6. Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

You never stop learning as a doctor. Even after you are fully-qualified, you will need to continue to build your knowledge and demonstrate your fitness to practise by earning Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points each year. This involves completing online courses, as well as attending workshops and seminars.

Why Study Medicine Abroad in Europe?

As an international medical student, you can enjoy an excellent quality of education. Many universities comply to international standards and offer globally-recognised and fully-accredited English-language medicine programmes.

By choosing to study medicine abroad, you can enjoy much lower tuition fees as well as a more affordable cost of living. This means that you can start your life as a medical professional without the burden of debt holding you back.

 If you’re a person who wants to study medicine, got decent grades in A-levels or finished your first degree but couldn’t get into med school, the right people to go is SME, as they would do anything they could to get you to the right medical school in Europe.

-Anthony, First-year medical student at New Vision University

Over the past ten years or so, the popularity of medical studies has surged while the number of university places has remained limited. Intense competition for university places in the UK means that many worthy candidates are unfairly missing out. By choosing to study medicine abroad, you open up a wide array of options and your odds of securing a university place are much greater.

The skills you develop (e.g. language skills, problem solving, making friends etc.) whilst living in a different country may serve you well down the line in your job-seeking efforts.

Studying abroad offers you the opportunity to enjoy the adventure of a lifetime. In addition to your studies, you can discover a whole new country and culture.