Doctor – General Practitioner

    Industry: Healthcare

    Summary: General practitioner doctors (GPs) work in a local surgery with residents of the local area. They identify and treat a full range of illnesses and sometimes injuries from which their patients suffer. If necessary, they refer patients to a specialist or arrange for a stay in hospital.

    Average salary: As of April 2013, in most junior posts (Foundation Year 1) the basic salary is £22,636 a year. This increases to £28,076 in Foundation Year 2. This is supplemented between 20% and 50% depending on the number of extra hours and intensity of work involved. Salaried GPs earn between £54,319 and £81,969 a year, depending on amongst other things, length of service and experience. Self-employed GPs can choose between two different systems of funding for their practices: the traditional General Medical Services contract or the Primary Medical Services which lets the GP adapt the practice to local needs. The income for a full time self-employed GP is £80,000 to £120,000 a year.

    The requirements

    • physical fitness
    • Disclosure Scotland
    • communication skills
    • teamwork
    • able to work alone
    • accuracy
    • handling complex information
    • handling sensitive information
    • patience
    • responsible
    • First Degree
    • medicine
    • medicine

    Read further information about this career



    Doctor; General Practitioner; GP

    The work

    You could be:

    • discussing all kinds of health problems with patients, and perhaps their relatives
    • examining the patient and either doing or arranging tests
    • identifying the cause of the problem from your own knowledge and experience or else from test results
    • if you can't diagnose the illness, or if the patient needs special treatment, referring the patient to a consultant
    • treating the patient – checking on the computer about the right kind of medicine, calculating the correct dosage and prescribing it
    • giving vaccinations to prevent illness and taking blood samples
    • consulting with other medical staff, often by letter or phone, about patients and their progress
    • keeping records on computers, completing forms and reports, or signing certificates.


    • You usually work in a consulting room in a surgery or health centre.
    • You sometimes visit patients in their homes.
    • You usually work in a group practice with other doctors and nurses.
    • In remote areas you might work single-handed and have to arrange for a locum when you are on holiday or sick.
    • Working hours can be long (50 to 60 hours a week) with some work to be done outwith surgery times.
    • Part time work is common.
    • You might have to work some evenings and weekends and be on call for emergencies.

    Getting in

    To qualify as a GP you need a degree in medicine and surgery which is recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC).

    • You can study the 5-year MB ChB course at the universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Entry requirements are 5 good Highers, usually at one sitting, including Chemistry and (depending on the university) 1 or 2 from Maths, Biology and Physics, with English and science subjects at Standard grade or National 5. Although most institutions set the minimum entry of 5 Highers at AAAAB, the majority of applicants have AAAAA.
    • Applications are not accepted after S5. In S6 you are recommended to take Advanced Highers including Chemistry and Biology.
    • If you have 5 good Highers but not more than one science subject, Dundee university runs a 6-year course which includes a pre-medical year.
    • The 3-year BSc Hons Medicine at St Andrews University guarantees its graduates the chance to finish their training at one of the four Scottish medical schools or in Manchester.
    • The HNC Applied Sciences (Pathway to Medicine option) at Perth College can lead on to the BSc Medicine at St Andrews University. Entry requirements for the Perth course: one Higher in Maths or a science subject.
    • Before applying to medical school you must sit the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT). For entry in 2014 you must register and book a test before 20 September 2013 and sit the test before 4 October 2013. If you get an Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) you can apply for a bursary to cover the cost of the test. Check the website for further details at
    • You will require a satisfactory PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) check to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details.
    • You must apply to UCAS by 15 October 2013 for entry in 2014.
    • You should be fit and healthy. You must provide evidence that you do not have, and have been immunised against, Hepatitis B.
    • It is helpful to have a driving licence.
    After your degree you do a 2-year foundation training programme, which gives you registration with the GMC, which you need to work as a doctor (see 'Training' below). Most GPs work for the National Health Service (NHS), but you might work in private practice. You could be a medical adviser to a company or the Benefits Agency. You could be a medical officer for the police and prison service.

    What does it take

    You should be:

    • able to communicate well with people from all backgrounds and of all ages
    • patient, understanding and able to put people at ease
    • good with your hands – and gentle when examining patients
    • able to handle and remember large amounts of information
    • confident – you will have to take important decisions affecting people
    • willing to take responsibility
    • accurate – when prescribing dosages
    • able to work alone and as part of a team.


    • After completing your degree, you must complete a 2-year Foundation Programme followed by a run-through Specialty and General Practice Programme. You can get details from the Scottish Medical Training website.
    • You can then apply for a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) with entry to the Specialist or General Practice Register of the General Medical Council.
    • Throughout your working life you will take courses to keep up to date.

    More Information

    You might enjoy using the Taste of Medicine website developed by St.George's University of London, especially the interactive games and video profiles.


    General Medical Council (GMC)
    GMC Scotland 5th Floor The Tun 4 Jackson's Entry Holyrood Road Edinburgh EH8 8PJ
    Tel: 0131 525 8700

    Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)
    RCGP Scotland 25 Queen Street Edinburgh EH2 1JX
    Tel: 0131 260 6800

    Royal Society of Medicine (RSM)
    1 Wimpole Street London W1G 0AE
    Tel: 020 7290 2900

    British Medical Association (BMA) (Scotland)
    BMA Scotland 14 Queen Street Edinburgh EH2 1LL
    Tel: 0131 247 3000

    UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT)
    Tel: 0161 855 7409

    So You Want to be a Doctor?
    Leeds Widening Access to Medical School Scheme (WAMS) Room 58 D Floor Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology The University of Leeds School of Medicine Clarendon Wing Leeds General Infirmary Leeds LS2 9NS
    Notes: Leeds WAMS is run by medical students at The University of Leeds. Its aim is to widen access to medical schools for school students in West Yorkshire. However, its website – although written from the point of view of the English educational system - is a useful resource for anyone thinking of applying to study medicine at any university in the UK.

    Skills for Health
    1st Floor Goldsmiths House Broad Plain Bristol BS2 0JP
    Tel: 0117 922 1155
    Notes: Skills for Health is the Sector Skills Council for the health sector.

    Disclosure Scotland
    P.O. Box 250 Glasgow G51 1YU
    Tel: 0870 609 6006

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