A hospital doctor diagnoses and treats illness and disease in patients admitted to hospital.

What does a hospital doctor do?

You'll examine, diagnose and treat patients. You'll specialise in a particular area like:

  • surgery – caring for patients before, during and after an operation
  • medicine – treating general medical conditions and working in specialisms like cardiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, geriatrics and neurology
  • paediatrics  managing health conditions that affect babies, children and young people
  • pathology  investigating the cause of disease and the effect on patients
  • psychiatry  working with patients experiencing mental health problems like depression, anxiety, personality disorders and addiction
  • anaesthesia  giving anaesthetics for surgery and medical procedures
  • obstetrics and gynaecology  caring for pregnant women and their unborn children
  • oncology  treating patients with cancer

Depending on your role you might also:

  • lead a team of medical staff
  • manage a department
  • teach and supervise trainee doctors
  • write reports and keep GPs informed about the diagnosis and care of their patients

What do I need to do to become a hospital doctor?

You'll need to complete:

  • a five-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council
  • a two-year foundation course of general training
  • two to three years of core medical training (CMT) or Acute Care Common Stem (ACCS) programme
  • four to seven years of specialist training, depending on your chosen area of medicine

If you already have a degree in a science subject (minimum upper second), you could take a four-year graduate entry programme into medicine.

You may be able to join a six-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.

Related skills

  • Administration
  • Analytics
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Customer service
  • Discipline
  • Interpersonal skills
  • IT
  • Leadership
  • Organisation
  • Patience
  • People management
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Time management

Academic route

  • seven 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)
  • three A levels at grade A in chemistry and either biology, physics or maths, plus another academic subject

Related subjects

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Religious studies

Essential qualifications

  • Medical degree
  • Two years of foundation training
  • Three to seven years of specialist training
  • DBS check

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You could work in an NHS or private hospital.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career opportunities

With experience, you may go on to lead a team or manage a department.

With experience and entry on the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register, you could apply for senior (or consultant) roles.

You may also progress to teaching and training students, trainee doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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