General Practitioner (GP) – Job Description
General practitioners (GPs) are the eyes and ears of the NHS. They’re the first point of contact for most people with a medical complaint and their sometimes-mountainous work schedules are offset by their equally-high pay.
GPs must be good listeners as they spend most of their time in surgery consultations where patients talk through their health issues. They then diagnose and treat patients or refer them to specialists if a complaint or condition is not within their area of expertise.
Some GPs will also do call-out work after-hours or at weekends, and the job also entails admin duties such as keeping patient records up to date. Practice managers tend to oversee the hiring and management of staff and decisions on the purchase of equipment and premises, but it is not uncommon for GPs to be involved in, and responsible for, this work as well.
The NHS is an ever-evolving monster, so GPs are increasingly required to have business sense as well as medical expertise. But the bottom line is consultation, diagnosis and treatment and that requires people skills, patience and a sharp mind.
To become a GP requires a huge amount of study and dedication. Competition is fierce simply to get on a medical course, so truly excellent A levels are required.
Then it’s four to five years’ work for a medical degree and another five in specialist postgraduate study, including two years as a junior hospital doctor. The final three years are all about deciding which field you want to specialise in – if it’s as a GP then you’re looking at an 18-month period working in primary care.
And still it’s not over. You’ll need to pass another exam to become a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
At last you’re a GP! But the study never stops if you want to keep on top of the constant changes in healthcare and drugs.
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Other recommended resources:
Royal College of General Practitioners
The professional body for GPs in the UK, the RCGP hosts the certification exam in addition to other training opportunities and continuing professional development.
British Medical Association
BMA membership gets you a passport into the medical world with information, news, research and support throughout the medical training process, from considering universities to applying for consultancy positions.
Family Doctor Association
A UK charity for GPs working in the community, supporting their roles and the work they complete. Their website has plenty of information for prospective and current general practitioner.
National Association of Primary Care
Supporting all those involved in primary care, including GPs, the NAPC aim to improve the standard of healthcare and promote the work of health professionals.
General Medical Council
You’ll need to register with the GMC to become a licensed GP but their website is also great for useful information whatever your level, whether you’re considering an undergraduate or pursuing continuing professional development. They also offer a good medical guide outlining best practice and specified standards.
Medical Schools Council
Representing medical schools in the UK, this resource is great for getting yourself acquainted with the available schools and courses and how to get where you want to go. They also offer publications and latest research news for keeping yourself at the cutting edge of science.
UK Clinical Aptitude Test
Want to apply to do medicine in the UK? You’ll probably need to complete an aptitude test before universities will accept you. The UKCAT is attempted by many every year. You’ll need to revise but get a good grade and you’ll do fine.