Hospital doctor

hospital consultant

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would examine and treat hospital patients. You would save lives and improve people’s health.

Your patients would be sent to you by GPs and other health professionals. You would listen to each person, ask them about their symptoms and do a physical examination.

You would then decide what you think the problem is and explain the best options for treatment. It would be important to reassure people as they may be very anxious and upset. People would trust you to do your best to help them.

You would do some of the treatments and clinical procedures yourself. You would need to make quick and accurate decisions.

As a hospital doctor you would specialise in a particular area and would need to keep up to date with developments in your chosen field. You could work in:

  • Surgery – you would carry out operations. You would also work with patients before and after surgery. You would specialise in one field, such as neurosurgery. Find out more about the role of a surgeon
  • Medicine – you would offer more general treatment. Again, you could focus on one field. Your options would include paediatrics, cardiology and many more. Find out about the role of a general practicioner (GP)
  • Pathology – you would explore the causes and effects of diseases. You could specialise in subjects such as chemical pathology (examining biochemical changes linked to health problems) or molecular genetics (finding abnormalities in DNA and chromosomes). Find out more about the role of a pathologist
  • Psychiatry – you would work with people who have mental health problems, for example depression or addiction. You would give therapy and counselling. You would also do tests and prescribe medicine. Find out more about careers in psychiatry

Other areas you could work in are:

  • Anaesthetics
  • Gynaecology
  • Obstetrics
  • Oncology
  • Pediatrics
  • Radiology

There would also be paperwork to do. You would keep patient records up to date and write reports to tell GPs about the diagnosis and care of their patients.

You might also lead a team of medical staff, manage a department or help train doctors.

You can see more about the different roles for doctors on the NHS Careers website and more about salaries on the pay for doctors page.

Working conditions


You would work long hours including nights and weekends, and you would be part of an out-of-hours rota system. European legislation has reduced the number of hours you can do to no more than 48 per week.


You will spend time in a variety of settings such as consulting rooms, wards, operating theatres and special units like accident and emergency.

UK employment status



Self employed

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Resilience
  • Taking responsibility
  • Making decisions
  • Developing a plan
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Social conscience
  • Empathising
  • Researching

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


You need an honours degree in medicine (SCQF level 10) recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC) and a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT).

To enter a medical degree (SCQF level 10) requires National 5 qualifications and at least five Highers at AAAAB or above, usually achieved at one sitting, Advanced Highers in science subjects are recommended.

Glasgow Kelvin College offers an Access to Medical Studies (Scottish Wider Access Programme - SWAP) for adults who do not have the required qualifications.  

If you have five good Highers but do not have all the science subjects, Dundee University runs a 6-year course which includes a pre-medical year (SCQF level 10). 

After graduation you'll need to complete the General Medical Council two-year Foundation Programme

Useful subjects

Most courses require:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics

Some courses require human biology.

Care and social subjects such as psychology may also be of value.

You will also need

Before applying to medical school you must sit the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT).

You will need to be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland.

You should be fit and healthy.

You must provide evidence that you do not have, and have been immunised against, Hepatitis B. 

Helpful to have

Qualifications that offer experience in the health, care or science sectors.

Knowledge and experience within the care and health environment, either by volunteering or paid employment.

A driving licence.