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Career profile: GP (General Practitioner)

Career profile: GP (General Practitioner)Thinking of becoming a GP? Get the lowdown on what the job involves, what qualifications you need and how long it takes to train.

A what?

General practitioners (GPs) are the first point of contact with the NHS for most people - they are the doctor you see at your local surgery or clinic. They provide a complete range of care within the local community, dealing with problems that often combine physical, psychological and social aspects.

On the job

GPs see patients in surgery and primary care emergency centres if clinically necessary, they might also visit their patient’s homes and will be aware of and take account of physical, psychological and social factors in looking after their patients.

GPs call on an extensive knowledge of medical conditions to be able to assess a problem and decide on the appropriate course of action. They know how and when to intervene, through treatment, prevention and education, to promote the health of their patients and families.

GPs will often deal with a very wide range of patients in a single surgery session. No other specialty offers such a wide remit of treating everything from pregnant women to babies and from mental illness to sports medicine. Individual doctors may develop special interests in diverse areas. General practice gives the opportunity to prevent illness and not just treat it.

Course entry requirements

For the five-year medical degree, the majority of medical schools require A-levels in chemistry, whilst others will accept AS level in chemistry, depending upon the other qualifications being offered. Some require biology at A’ level.

For candidates without science subjects to offer at A level (or equivalent), it is possible to undertake an additional pre-medical year at some universities (see section training to be a doctor). The pre-medical year is a preliminary course in chemistry, physics and biology and lasts normally 30 weeks. Other equivalent qualifications can be accepted, such as a BTEC higher national diploma, GNVQs, and the International Baccalaureate.

For candidates without A-levels there are small number of access courses which can lead on into a medical degree.

The entry requirements for degree courses vary a great deal so check with the institution you’re interested in applying to, especially as some do not accept the access course entry route.

What does the training involve?

To become a GP, entrants must study for a medical degree recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC). This can be either a five or six year degree in medicine (as described above).
It is in the final period that doctors train to specialise in general practice.
Doctors will be expected to keep up with training and education throughout their career to ensure they are up to date with all new developments.

Related links

(Information taken from NHS Careers)