Qualifications to Become a Doctor in the UK

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Qualifications to Become a Doctor in the UK
Training to become a doctor lasts between five and six years in the UK. (Doctor image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from Fotolia.com)

Students in the United Kingdom normally begin medical training between the ages of 18 to19. This is different from the USA, where a bachelor’s degree is required to enter medical school. Courses last either five or six years. Medical schools design their own courses for students. The first two years of medical school are usually set in an academic environment.

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Qualifications For Medical School

Requirements for medical school vary greatly between universities but almost all will require students to have at least three A-levels that are A to C grade. One of these must be in a science subject, preferably chemistry or biology.

Medical School

Medical school applications in the UK are made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applicants may apply to up to four medical schools through UCAS. UK medical schools also expect applicants to sit an entrance examination which tests applicants on problem solving and assesses reasoning skills. There are approximately 8,000 places for students in medical schools every year. On completion of medical school, students are awarded either a Bachelor of Medicine or a Bachelor of Surgery.


After students have graduated from medical school, they become a Foundation House Officer (FHO). This is a position of paid employment and lasts for two years, during which they will complete Foundation Training level one. During this year, an FHO will spend time rotating through three or four different jobs within a hospital. At least three months must be within general medicine. During the first year of service, FHOs build upon the skills they have learnt in undergraduate training. During the second year of FHO training, students work in medicine or surgery and may also work in other areas, such as emergency medicine, paediatrics or pathology.

Intercalated Degrees

Students may decide to spend an extra year at medical school studying for an intercalated degree. This is an extra qualification designed to improve students' research skills. Students usually complete this extra degree after the second or third year of their medical courses. The intercalated degree is implemented in different ways throughout the UK and may be taken in a specific subject like pathology or social medicine.

Run-Through Training

After completion of two years as an FHO, students undertake runthrough training, which may last for several years depending upon what area students wish to work in. This period is spent specialising in an area whilst being observed and appraised regularly.

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