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General practitioners (GPs) are doctors who provide medical services to people in their local community.

Annual Salary

£60,455 to £91,228

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

45 to 50 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on a rota

Day to day tasks

You may:

  • speak to patients face to face, on the phone or online
  • diagnose patients' symptoms
  • prescribe medicines or recommend treatments
  • carry out minor surgery
  • give general health advice
  • refer patients to specialist consultants for tests and further diagnosis
  • work with other healthcare professionals in your practice
  • make improvements to healthcare by doing research
  • organise and lead clinics for specific groups of patients or medical conditions
  • help to train junior doctors and other healthcare professionals

Working environment

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 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.

The Royal College of General Practitioners has an online alternative work experience platform: Observe GP.

Entry requirements

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
For more information

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

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.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a GP from Health Careers and the Royal College of General Practitioners.

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You could become an independent contractor, in charge of running your own or a shared practice. You could develop a specialty interest like diabetes or children's health. You could move into medical work in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, the police or the prison service.

You could work overseas or within a particular employment sector like sport, business or the military.

You can find out more about military medicine at:Army; Royal Air Force; Royal Navy

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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • 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
  • the ability to use your judgement and make decisions
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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