Working as a doctor is one of the most rewarding yet challenging careers you can have.
From diagnosing mild ailments to creating treatment plans for chronic illnesses and life-changing diseases, doctors shoulder considerable responsibility.
They work on the frontline, tending to people’s immediate medical needs, and are the cornerstones of healthcare systems everywhere.
Doctors not only work to improve lives through medical intervention, but they help save them too.
As such, doctors are always in demand. And with the world's population predicted to reach 8.5 billion people by 2030, the need for skilled medical professionals will continue to increase.
So, if you’ve always wanted to become a doctor, now’s the perfect time to start your training.
Qualifying as a Doctor
Becoming a doctor isn’t just a career move. Medicine is something that you devote your life to studying and practising.
After all, you will be making decisions that directly impact patients’ lives. It’s therefore essential that you understand the intricacies of the human body and have undergone the highest level of training.
As such, a career in medicine is academically rigorous.
To practise as a doctor, you need to have a bachelor's degree in medicine (MBBS) or surgery (BMBS) that has been recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC). However, this is just the beginning.
Once you graduate, you will need to complete several years’ worth of post-graduate study, where you’ll specialise in a specific area of medicine.
You will also need to pass a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check to certify that you’re safe to work with members of the public.
To commence your training at medical school, you will need to have a minimum of 3 A grade A Levels, including psychics and biology. You will also need at least 5 GCSEs at grade 7-9/A-A*, including English and maths.
As medicine is highly competitive, stand-out grades aren’t all that matter. Universities also look for applicants with relevant work experience and a demonstratable enthusiasm for healthcare and medicine.
This proves your dedication to the pursuit of a medical career, which is vital if you are to complete your years of training and succeed as a qualified doctor.
Once you have graduated, you will be ready for the next phase of your training: post-graduate study. This encompasses 3 strains of training:
- Foundation training
- Core medical training
- Speciality training
Foundation training offers you the chance to put your graduate knowledge into practice in a variety of placements. This is where you will earn your status as a junior doctor.
Once you have completed this, you will undergo core medical training. This is the first stage of your speciality training and dictates where your medical career will take you.
At this point, you will decide whether you want to practise in primary care as a GP or in secondary care, where you could work as a hospital doctor or specialist. Which path you decide to take will determine your next steps and the area of medicine you will work in as a qualified doctor.
Speciality training marks the third and final stage in your post-graduate training.
During this phase, you will hone your knowledge and skills in a specific area of medicine – such as general practice (GP) or emergency medicine – and develop your expertise as a medical professional.
Once you have completed these training stages, you will be able to practise as a fully qualified doctor, without the supervision of a senior doctor or consultant.
Becoming a Doctor Without A Levels
If you haven’t got an A* academic record, it may seem that a career in medicine is off-limits. However, thanks to the Access to Higher Education Diploma, this isn’t the case.
Developed as an alternative to A Levels, the Access to HE Diploma offers an established route into higher education for individuals without traditional qualifications.
As a Level 3 qualification, the Access to HE Diploma is equivalent to A Levels and is therefore accepted by many universities across the UK. Every university sets its own entry requirements though, so it’s important to check these before you apply.
With an Access to Higher Education Diploma, it is possible to become a doctor without A Levels.
The Access to HE Diploma, therefore, gives people who missed out on their A Levels or studied the wrong subjects at college, a chance to pursue a career in medicine.
To enrol on your Access to HE Diploma, you will need GCSEs in English and maths at grade 4/C or above or Level 2 Functional Skills maths and English qualifications.
However, due to the demands of medical training, it is recommended that you hold at least 5 A* - A GCSEs to better your chances of securing a place at medical school.
What Does the Diploma Involve?
Although any Access to Higher Education Diploma pathway can make you eligible for university, the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Medicine and Health Care Professions) has been specifically designed with your future in medicine in mind.
On the programme, you will study everything you need in preparation for your future medical degree.
You will develop medical-specific knowledge through theory-based science modules on:
- Human immunity
- Medical physics
- Cell biology
- Cell division and heredity
- The human endocrine and nervous system
Alongside your science-based studies, you will hone your academic writing and research skills so you’re prepared for undergraduate study.
Your Access to HE Diploma (Medicine and Health Care Professions) will provide you with the foundation you need to study a medical or healthcare-related degree with confidence, no matter how long you’ve been out of education.
How Long Will It Take to Qualify?
There is no fast-track way to become a doctor.
On average, medical degrees take 5 years to complete, with post-graduate training taking anywhere between 5 to 10 years to complete depending on your specialism.
Therefore, you should expect it to take at least 10 years for you to become a fully qualified doctor.
If you need to study an Access to Higher Education Diploma before your degree, it will take you a little longer to qualify. Most Access to HE Diploma students achieve their qualification in 9 – 12 months; however, following this route can add up to 2 years on to your training.
This brings the total maximum time that it takes to become a qualified doctor to 17 years.
You may think that after so many years of training, you’ll be all set as a doctor. But your studies never really come to an end.
The world of medicine is constantly changing. There will always be new technologies developed and research that provide fresh insights into specific conditions.
Because of this, you will need to continue your professional development throughout your career, even if you’re an established GP or consultant, to ensure that your knowledge is up to date.
Becoming a doctor isn’t easy. But it is an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career to enter.
As every patient is different, no 2 days as a doctor will ever be the same. Each working day will bring new challenges and puzzles to solve. New diagnoses to make and treatments to give.
Whether you work as a GP, an anaesthetist or a surgeon, you will constantly put your expertise and skills to good use in helping individuals live healthier and happier lives.
If you this sounds like something you want to be a part of, why not enrol on your online Access to Higher Education Diploma (Medicine and Health Care Professions) today? Your future as a doctor is just a few clicks away...