Have you been inspired by Grey’s Anatomy and ER? Have Scrubs and Green Wing got you hankering after a career in medicine? Is the life of a general practice doctor pretty unappealing? Do you want something more fast-paced? Do you want to be on the frontline, saving lives and shouting “CLEEAAARRR!” at the top of your voice?
Well then, a career as a hospital doctor could be right up your street? Right up your Shortland Street? Eh, eh? For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Shortland Street is a New Zealand soap opera which is set in a hospital. Anyway…keep reading to find out more about the professional life of a hospital doctor.
Ok, first things first, working as a doctor in a hospital is not going to be like an endless episode of Scrubs; it’s not all about laughter, complex relationships, moral endings and harassment at the hands of an angry janitor.
In fact, TV shows like Junior Doctors or 24 Hours in A&E are a much more accurate depiction of life in a UK hospital. Indeed, there’s a lot more paperwork, and a lot less witty banter.
Essentially, hospital doctors use their medical expertise to diagnose, treat, cure and prevent illnesses and injuries.
You might not have guessed it, but these medical professionals work in hospitals. Unlike GPs, once hospital doctors have completed their medical degree and their postgraduate foundation training, they tend to specialise in a particular area of medicine, such as paediatrics, A&E, surgery, psychiatry, gastroenterology, oncology or obstetrics and gynaecology.
Understandably, a hospital doctor’s responsibilities will vary depending on their particular specialism. However, most share a lot of the same responsibilities. If you decide to pursue a career as a doctor, you will be diagnosing diseases, injuries and other conditions, monitoring your patients’ progress, providing them with general care and prescribing medicines.
Furthermore, you’ll be responsible for carrying out investigative procedures, completing paperwork, and referring patients to other healthcare professionals, such as radiographers and physiotherapists.
As you progress in your career, you will take on more managerial responsibilities and offer guidance to junior doctors who are only just beginning to embark on their medical career.
Salary & benefits
The starting salary for a hospital doctor in the first year of foundation training is £22,636 per annum, which rises to £28,076 in the second year of foundation training.
Once you’ve started your speciality training, you will earn upwards of £29,000. After you’ve completed your speciality training, you can earn anywhere between £36,000 and £70,000 a year.
Finally, when you’ve progressed into a consultant position, you can earn up to £100,000 per annum and beyond.
Doctors that work for private healthcare institutions may earn higher salaries, but these will understandably vary from hospital to hospital.
Unlike a GP, if you become a hospital doctor, you will work long, irregular and unsociable hours in accordance with prescribed shift patterns. You may be required to work nights, weekends and even national holidays on a frequent basis.
Hospitals are open all the time and must be ready for any kind of medical emergency. Therefore, hospital doctors will regularly have to work ‘on-call’.
All hospital doctors must obtain a degree in medicine which is verified by the General Medical Council.
Only a limited number of universities in the UK offer degrees in medicine. Check out our Courses section for the full list. These courses typically take five years to complete. However, some courses with a foundation year may take six years.
Entry onto a medical degree course is incredibly competitive. Consequently, you will need very high A-level grades to stand a chance of being accepted.
If you have done another degree, you can actually do a graduate-entry medical degree, which takes four years to complete. Science graduates are usually preferred but graduates from other disciplines may still be considered. A minimum 2:1 degree is usually a prerequisite.
Training & progression
Once you’ve graduated, you will begin your foundation training, which takes two years. After your first year of foundation training, you will register with the General Medical Council.
When you have completed your second year of foundation training, you will undertake specialty training. The duration of speciality training varies depending on which specialism you choose to pursue.
As you progress in your career, you may eventually become a consultant. However, making this step up is currently only possible eight years after you’ve graduated.