You need a degree in medicine to become a doctor but it can also lead you into alternative careers in many areas including lecturing, research and scientific journalism
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Clinical radiologist
- General practice doctor
- Hospital doctor
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Adult nurse
- Children's nurse
- Clinical scientist, genomics
- Higher education lecturer
- International aid/development worker
- Medical sales representative
- Medical science liaison
- Mental health nurse
- Physician associate
- Research scientist (life sciences)
- Science writer
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
It's a good idea to start developing your CV while you're still at university. You can improve your skills by undertaking voluntary work, getting involved in medical school societies or becoming an academic course or clinical representative.
Skills and experience can also be gained from taking an elective, which is a period of clinical experience taken during your degree. A lot of students who take an elective decide to go abroad, with many going to developing countries.
If you want to consider other options for your career you could take an intercalated degree. This involves taking a year out from the medical curriculum to study and carry out a research project in a different subject. This can include topics such as clinical research, teaching, journalism or medical management. It’s a good chance to test which direction you’d like your career to go in.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
Most medical graduates go on to become doctors. Opportunities are available in both the NHS and private hospitals, as well as in NHS practice trusts as a GP.
There are also opportunities for those wishing to practise medicine in:
- the Armed Forces
- overseas aid agencies
- research institutes
- clinical trial organisations
- private healthcare establishments
- residential nursing homes
- air ambulance services
- university teaching.
Outside of becoming a doctor, jobs for medical graduates are available within a variety of places including research organisations and laboratories, higher education establishments and pharmaceutical companies.
Skills for your CV
As well as the vocational skills you acquire when undertaking a degree in medicine, you also develop a range of other transferable skills through your course, such as:
- critical appraisal
- listening and communication
- logical reasoning and problem-solving
- decision making
- teamworking and leadership
These skills are crucial when working as a doctor, but are just as useful in work outside medicine.
Most medicine graduates undertake the two-year UK Foundation Programme after graduation in order to practise medicine in the UK. In order to register with the General Medical Council (GMC), you must successfully complete the first year of the Foundation Programme and gain a Certificate of Experience.
The majority of doctors start further training immediately after the Foundation Programme, choosing to specialise in either general practice or a specialty. The number of years you'll spend in training varies - approximately three years for GP training and around five to seven years for specialties.
Many of the specialty programmes are initially broad, but as training progresses doctors can specialise in a particular area, such as cardiology. For more information on the range of specialties available, see NHS Health Careers.
If you want to enter a career outside of medicine you may need to complete further vocational training. This could be in an area such as teaching or scientific research, journalism or management.
What do medicine graduates do?
Medicine is a highly vocational degree and this is reflected in the destination data of graduates. The vast majority (95%) of graduates in employment in the UK are generalist medical practitioners. Specialist medical practitioners, biochemists and biomedical scientists, and health services and public health managers and directors are also among the top ten jobs reported.
|Working and studying||12.4|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Business, HR and finance||0.2|
|Childcare, health and education||0.1|
Find out what other graduates are doing after finishing their degrees in What do graduates do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.