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Health & Social Care careers

Healthcare: Medical Doctors & Surgeons

Why be a doctor?

This literally is the business of saving lives. Without a doubt one of the most highly respected professions out there, medical doctors and surgeons have been revered in every community since the word go.

There are over 60 different specialities in medicine, from the commonly known GP (general practitioner) to the ophthalmologist (eye doctor). Academic excellence and natural scientific ability is a must and is never compromised. As such, competition is fierce and the selection criteria are extremely high.

What options do I have as a doctor?

All illnesses, injuries and conditions need to be covered by a specialist. Consequently, a huge variety of career options are available within this subsector alone. As mentioned above, we are all aware of the local GP: the doctor that usually acts as the first point of contact for patients seeking medical attention. These guys are responsible for diagnosing the problem, recommending a suitable treatment or referring the patient to a specialist, should this be required.

The role of a GP is such that they must have an encyclopaedic medical knowledge. The range of illnesses they encounter can be incredibly broad, so it’s extremely important that they are able to identify the issue at hand. GPs can work literally anywhere in the UK, from villages in the middle of nowhere, to the City of London.

If you’re more interested in specialising, there are a wide variety of options to choose from. It must be noted though that some are far more competitive than others. However, one particular bonus is that you will not have to choose which area you wish to specialise in until after medical school.

How do I become a doctor?

Regardless of which area you wish to specialise in, there are top level requirements for all candidates. Aside from a keen intellect and fantastic academic background, excellent communication, organisational ability and stamina are all absolute musts. You will often be called upon to work very long and unsociable hours, so you must be committed to the cause.

If you’ve got your heart set on becoming a doctor, there are three clear stages: your medical degree, foundation training and speciality training. For everybody, the medical degree is five years and the foundation training is two. The training thereafter lasts for different periods depending on which specialism you choose. Some speciality training can last up to eight years!

What can I actually do as a doctor? What might my specialisms be?

Broadly speaking, there are ten key groups that you can specialise in, as defined by the NHS careers website. As mentioned earlier, there are over 60 different specialities available. These are split into each of the following groups: psychiatry, paediatrics, pathology, radiology, anaesthetics, ophthalmology, obstetrics & gynaecology, general practice, surgical and general medical.

Psychiatry

This focuses on the treatment of mental health and has a wide variety of sub-specialities. With reportedly one in four people experiencing some form of mental health problem each year, it is a huge area of study and treatment. Typical problems vary from depression and anxiety, to eating disorders, drug addiction and learning disabilities.

Paediatrics

This is the study and treatment of children’s diseases, focusing on babies, children and adolescents with a wide variety of illnesses. There are many specialisms within this area; however, one fundamental requirement is the ability to work well with children.

Pathology

Pathology focuses on the treatment of diseases. As well as diagnosing and treating diseases, these guys are responsible for researching new and more effective treatments. There are a wide variety of specialisms within pathology, from haematology and genetics, to toxicology. Check out the following occupational profiles to find out more:

Radiology

It’s all about X-rays and radiation, ladies and gents. These guys are responsible for ‘taking pictures’ of the human body, interpreting medical images and diagnosing any internal problems. Check out the occupational profile of a diagnostic radiographer to find out more.

Anaesthetics

This is concerned with the use of anaesthesia, a drug that induces a temporary loss of sensation, for various surgical procedures. As with most of these areas, there is the ability to further specialise. For example, you can become an anaesthetist in trauma, cardiac, thoracic, neuro and various other areas of surgery.

Ophthalmology

Anything and everything to do with the eye is the best way to put it. This area covers all age ranges and provides the option to specialise further. Check out the following occupational profiles of an or an to find out more:

Obstetrics & Gynaecology

This is the study and treatment of diseases and other issues specific to women.

General Practice

As mentioned above, GPs are the first point of contact for most people with an illness. They either recommend a remedy or refer patients to a specialist.

Surgical

This area is all about operations, focusing on injuries, diseases and any other condition that requires surgery. There are broadly nine different specialisms within surgery, ranging from neuro to cardiac.

General Medical

This area is largely concerned with accident and emergency situations and focuses on treating people that are usually admitted to hospital.

You need a lot of dedication to enter into the medical doctor and surgeon profession, but if you have the patients you’ll go far!