You need a degree in medicine to train to become a doctor, but it can also lead to other careers in areas such as 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:
- Academic researcher
- Clinical scientist, genomics
- Health service manager
- Higher education lecturer
- International aid/development worker
- Medical sales representative
- Medical science liaison
- Newspaper journalist
- Physician associate
- Research scientist (medical)
- 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.
You'll gain experience from a range of clinical placements throughout your degree. These can take place in a variety of hospitals, as well as in general practices and community medical centres.
Skills and experience can also be gained from taking an elective, which is a period of clinical experience taken during your degree (usually lasting 6 to 12 weeks). 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 with a range of employers including research organisations and laboratories, higher education and research institutions, pharmaceutical companies and the media (scientific writing and journalism).
Skills for your CV
Studying medicine provides you with the clinical skills, knowledge and professional behaviours essential for becoming a foundation doctor.
You also develop a range of other transferable skills, such as:
- listening, communication and interpersonal
- critical appraisal
- logical reasoning and problem-solving
- decision making
- conflict-resolution and negotiation
- 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. This programme bridges the gap between medical school and specialty or general practice training.
You must register provisionally with the General Medical Council (GMC) after your medical degree. Once you've completed Year 1 of the Foundation Programme, you must then apply for full registration.
Once you've successfully completed the Foundation programme, you'll receive a Foundation Programme Certificate of Completion (FPCC). The majority of doctors then start further training immediately, choosing to follow either general practice training or training in a chosen specialty. The number of years you'll spend in training varies - approximately three years for GP training and around five to eight 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 or paediatrics. 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, depending on your career interests. To work as a lecturer or academic researcher in higher education, you will usually need a PhD.
What do medicine graduates do?
Medicine is a highly vocational degree and this is reflected in the destination data of graduates. The vast majority (98%) of medicine graduates in employment in the UK are medical practitioners.
|Working and studying||8.9|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Business, HR and finance||0.1|
|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.