How To Become A Doctor

15 July 2019 Dr. P. Baptiste

When I was growing up I was literally obsessed with medicine and becoming a doctor. No other career came close. Fast forward to the present day, I’ve completed my training as a General Practitioner (GP). I think GP is a versatile career with loads of opportunities and I am glad I chose it. In this article I will explain how you can become a doctor what key things you should consider before selecting a medical career!

So, how do you become a doctor?

The starting point for any medic is a medical degree which is usually about five years. During this time you will learn the fundamentals of medicine including physiology, biochemistry, immunology and more. For most courses, the latter part of the degree is based around more clinical practice; gearing you up to actually be a working doctor!

After graduation you ARE a doctor! In the UK you will then have to undertake two years working in the NHS- this is called the foundation programme. During these two years you will move around various specialties where you will learn a variety of different clinical skills. After this time, a lot of junior doctors take time out of training to travel, develop other interests or learn about other areas of medicine.

There are numerous pathways to become different types of doctors but the main pathways are:

  • Run through training programmes such as general practice (three years training), radiology and paediatrics (five years training), ophthalmology, (seven years training).
  • Acute Care Common Stem pathway (ACCS)– three years rotating through emergency, acute and intensive care medicine and anaesthetics.
  • Core medical or surgical training- two years, then further training for a number of different medical and surgical specialties such as cardiology, respiratory and orthopaedics.

Why do you want to become a doctor?

Medicine is a demanding, challenging and at times frustrating profession for a variety of reasons. Examples include, the amount of administrative duties doctors have which takes away from clinical aspects of the job and the intellectual and at times emotive nature of the profession which can be draining especially when working long hours. On the other hand, medicine can be a very rewarding profession; doctors are in very privileged positions. Patients often confide in doctors and put their trust in them. Helping people in many different ways, not only by treating and managing a condition is what many of us signed up for.

Before signing up to medicine think about the practical aspects of the job too. For instance, do you want to be sitting exams and working night shifts when you are forty plus? Do you want to keep moving year after year because you are required to as a reslt of your training commitments? For me, working as a hospital doctor was not something I thought was sustainable and I wanted more control over my work life balance, something I can easily achieve in general practice.

Other things to consider are your personality type, strengths and weaknesses which would make you suited or not suited to a medical career.

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