General practitioner, doctor
General practitioners (GPs) are doctors who provide medical services to people in their local community.
Salary range: £37.935 to £88,744
How to become a GP
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 (UCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). 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:
- at least 5 GCSEs grades 9 to 7 (A* or A), including English maths and sciences
- 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology and chemistry
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
- University Clinical Aptitude Test
- BioMedical Admissions Test
- after your training you’ll need to join the General Medical Council GP Register, and apply for a licence to practise as a doctor
The General Medical Council produces a guide to what it means to be a good doctor. It’s useful reading when preparing for medical school interviews.
There are online resources to help you prepare for BMAT and UCAT and to find out more about the types of interviews you can expect for medical school entry.
Professional and industry bodies
You could join the British Medical Association, for professional development and training opportunities.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of medicine
- science skills
- knowledge of psychology
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties may include:
- speaking to patients face to face, on the phone or online
- diagnosing patients’ symptoms
- prescribing medicines or recommending treatments
- carrying out minor surgery
- giving general health advice
- referring patients to specialist consultants for tests and further diagnosis
- working with other healthcare professionals in your practice
- making improvements to healthcare by doing research
- organising and leading clinics for specific groups of patients or medical conditions
- helping to train junior doctors and other healthcare professionals
You could work at a GP practice, at a health centre or at a client’s home.
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
Career path and progression
You could move into medical work in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, the police or the prison service.
You could work overseas or within a particular industry such as sport, business or the military.
You could work in education, teaching students training to be GPs or go into clinical research.
You might also get involved in local health issues, maybe as a member of a local medical committee or clinical commissioning group.