The Journey of Becoming a Doctor in the UK: From Medical School to Specialisation

Becoming a doctor is a challenging and rewarding path that requires years of rigorous training. This article outlines the various stages of training, from medical school to specialisation, highlighting the different routes and durations involved in the process.

Medical School (Four to Seven Years)

Medical school serves as the foundation for aspiring doctors, offering comprehensive education in the field of medicine. The duration of medical school typically ranges from four to seven years, depending on the chosen route. If you join medical school directly after secondary school, sixth form college, or a college of further education, your medical degree will generally last five years. It is also possible to opt for an additional intercalated year, extending the program by one year.

Starting from September 2023, a new option to train as a doctor through a five-year Master’s level apprenticeship will be available, with vacancies advertised on the NHS Jobs and Government websites.

For those who have not studied sufficient science or come from disadvantaged backgrounds, a foundation year may be undertaken before commencing the medical degree.

Foundation Training (Two Years)

Upon graduating from medical school, aspiring doctors proceed to the foundation training program, a two-year period during which they are employed and receive a salary. The foundation program provides general medical training, combining work experience with ongoing education. During these two years, participants gain exposure to various medical specialties by rotating through different placements. Towards the end of the second year, individuals are asked to make a decision regarding their preferred specialty training for the subsequent years.

The UK Foundation Programme introduces major changes to the allocation process for 2024. Applicants will now be ranked using computer-generated algorithms, eliminating the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) requirement. These changes will be effective from the 2024 round, starting in August 2023. Read more

Specialty Training (Three Years for GP, Five to Eight Years for Other Specialties)

For those embarking on the path of becoming a General Practitioner (GP), the specialty training program lasts three years. However, for those pursuing other medical specialties, the duration of training varies, ranging from five to eight years, depending on the chosen field.

For instance, a specialisation in pediatrics typically involves an additional ten years of training after completing medical school.

The specialty training period is designed to provide in-depth knowledge and expertise in a specific area of medicine, ensuring doctors are well-prepared to meet the demands of their chosen field.

Training to become a doctor is a transformative journey that encompasses several stages. From the foundational education acquired in medical school to the practical experience gained during the foundation training program, aspiring doctors gradually build the necessary skills and knowledge. Specializing in a specific medical field further refines their expertise, allowing them to make significant contributions to healthcare.

The path to becoming a doctor requires dedication, perseverance, and a lifelong commitment to learning, but ultimately leads to a fulfilling career dedicated to the well-being of others.

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