What does a general practitioner do?
General practitioners (GPs) are doctors who treat and diagnose a variety of medical conditions. You’re often the first port of call for sick and injured patients. You’ll need excellent communication skills as you’ll be dealing with a variety of patients, from new-born babies’ right through to the elderly.
Your day-to-day tasks may include:
- making a diagnosis
- giving general advice
- prescribing medicine
- recommending treatment
- carrying out minor surgery
- referring patients to specialist consultants for tests and further diagnosis
What do I need to do to become a general practitioner?
You can get into this job through a university course.
You'll need to complete:
- a 5-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council
- a 2-year foundation course of general training
- a 3-year specialist training course in general practice
If you already have a degree in a science subject (minimum upper second), you could take an accelerated 4-year graduate entry programme.
You may be able to join a 6-year degree course in medicine if you have no science qualifications. This includes a one-year pre-medical or foundation year.
When you apply for a course in medicine, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test or BioMedical Admissions Test. They test the skills you'll need on the course, like critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis, communication and scientific knowledge.
Medical schools will also expect you to have some relevant paid or voluntary work experience. The British Medical Association has information on finding a placement.
You'll usually need:
- 7 GCSEs, including sciences, with 5 subjects at grades 9 to 7 (A* or A) and English and maths at least grade 6 to 5 (B)
- 3 A levels at grade A in chemistry and either biology, physics or maths, plus another academic subject
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- NHS funding for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
- BioMedical Admissions Test
- University Clinical Aptitude Test
Restrictions and requirements
You'll need to:
- Three A levels at grades AAA or AAB in chemistry and either biology, physics or maths, plus another academic subject.
- Medical degree
- Two years of foundation training
- Three years of specialist GP training
- DBS check
Where to find out more
After your training you'll need to join the General Medical Council GP Register, and apply for a licence to practise as a doctor.
Professional and industry bodies
You could join the British Medical Association, for professional development and training opportunities.
Where could I be working?
You could work at a GP practice, at a health centre or at a client's home.
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
You could move into medical work in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, the police or the prison service.
You could also work in education, teaching students training to be GPs.
You might also get involved in local health issues, maybe as a member of a local medical committee or clinical commissioning group.
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