GP general practitioner careers

GP General Practitioner Jobs

GP jobs… did you know?

Who is the first healthcare professional a sick person gets to see? It’s often the General Practitioner (but it’s quicker to say GP). There are around 65 different types of doctor, but the UK especially needs more GPs. That’s because GPs are the all-round doctors who provide help where you live, in your community.

GPS often work in local GP surgeries or visit patients’ homes to treat all common medical conditions and refer patients to hospitals or specialist services for any extra treatment. When you become a GP, you focus on the health of the whole person. Not only how they are physically, but how they are mentally and if they need social care, too.

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GP job trends

How much money can you make as a GP?

£26,350 – £84,500 (UK average)

Recent labour market information says you can earn on average between £26,350 and £84,500 a year as a GP in the UK.

Your starting salary can vary because of factors like level of experience, training, or location. Your salary will increase over time as you build skills, knowledge and experience.

What entry qualifications and training do you need?

School, college and training

To become a GP, you need to take on training in a specialist area of healthcare. Before that, you need to have a medical degree, then go on a two-year foundation programme.

Entry requirements for a medical degree vary, but you often need at least five GCSEs or their equivalent at the highest passing grades including English and maths, and a high passing grade in science. Along with that, you will also need at least three A-levels or their equivalent – including chemistry and either biology, maths or physics – at high passing grades.

Apprenticeships

You would struggle to take the apprenticeship route to become a GP. You can, however, apply for apprenticeships in healthcare. A huge range of other healthcare professions is still open to you if you want to do an apprenticeship rather than a degree.

You can complete either an apprenticeship or advanced apprenticeship in healthcare. This gives you the opportunity to earn a salary working in healthcare while getting structured learning that leads to an industry-recognised qualification.

The NHS runs traineeships, apprenticeships and cadet schemes.

NHS apprenticeships are on offer at four levels:

  • Intermediate (Level 2 – equivalent to five GCSES (9-4/A*-C)
  • Advanced (Level 3 – equivalent to two A-levels)
  • Higher (Levels 4-7 – equivalent to foundation degree or above)
  • Degree apprenticeship (Levels 6-7 – equivalent to a degree)

There are some entry requirements for NHS apprenticeships. For example, to successfully apply for an Advanced Level Apprenticeship you may need four or five GCSEs or their equivalents, sometimes in particular subjects.

To start a higher apprenticeship with the NHS you may need a Level 3 qualification or enough healthcare-related experience to show you have the skills and knowledge to apply.

Visit NHS Healthcare Careers to see the range of healthcare apprenticeships on offer.

Career progression

With time and experience you could move into medical work in pharmaceutical companies, or places like hospitals, the police force and the prison service.

You could get directly involved in local issues as a member of a local medical committee, or as part of a clinical commissioning group.

You could decide to become self-employed and become a GP Partner who can earn a lot more but is also personally attached to the financial success of a practice. You’ll find out more below.

Your salary could increase greatly over time in line with your experience and expertise.

What experience do you need for GP jobs?

Work experience

It can help you decide if this is the right career for you if you have previously done work experience in a healthcare environment. If you are applying for a medical degree, it could also help the university recognise that you’re not just about getting good grades – you have a real passion for medical care.

Any work experience where you have demonstrated your healthcare skills can help your application. Visit the NHS Work Experience website to find healthcare work experience opportunities in your area.

Examples of relevant work experience include:

  • Work shadowing (even if it’s just for a day)
  • Work placements in a company
  • Year-long industry placements on a sandwich degree course

Volunteering and extra-curricular activities

Volunteering is a very caring thing to do because you are choosing to give up your time to help other people. Employers may be impressed to see volunteering on your CV, and any volunteering experience related to healthcare is especially useful. Maybe you have volunteered to help vulnerable people like the homeless or elderly people?

Sometimes you will have been in the position of being a carer yourself for someone in the family, or helping family relatives who are struggling with their health. This life experience means you know what can be involved in caring for someone.

What skills do you need for GP jobs?

What life and work skills do you need to make a great GP?

Useful skills to highlight when applying for a medical degree or a GP position include:

  • Writing and spoken communication skills
  • Customer service skills – being friendly, polite, respectful and calm with people of all kinds of backgrounds
  • Teamworking skills – you will often work as part of a team to support healthcare professionals and be there for them when you’re needed
  • Self-management skills – you will have a schedule of things to do but will still observe and tell someone if you spot anything wrong with a patient
  • Good problem solving skills – you will need to decide what medical condition a patient has, and if they need to be referred for extra tests or treatment
  • Ability to stay calm under pressure – you can work well when things get busy and you are not squeamish about intimate tasks like collecting bedpans or helping someone get clean. Comfort and health come first.

Vocational qualifications and work experience will help you build these skills over time.

You can start to build these skills right now when you sign up with Youth Employment UK to get free Young Professional training.

What does a GP do?

Some common day-to-day job responsibilities include:

  • Examining patients to find out what their condition is. You might be using specialist equipment like a stethoscope.
  • Carrying out tests in the surgery to help your diagnosis (like urine sample tests)
  • If tests have been done elsewhere, like blood tests, you’ll use the findings to help reach a diagnosis
  • You may need to use basic life support skills and emergency techniques on occasion, like defibrillation, to help save a patient’s life.
  • Administration is a big part of what you do every day. You could be reading and acting on letters from hospitals and patients. You could also be signing repeat prescriptions, death certificates and statements of fitness for work.
  • You’ll be carrying out audits to check on the level of care provided in your practice, and attending regular staff meetings.

There are two types of GP: A GP employed by the practice who gets a set salary (this is called a salaried GP) and a self-employed GP that is basically running a small business (a GP partner).

Salaried GP:

  • You are employed by the practice and get a regular salary that matches your experience
  • You get employment benefits like sick pay, holiday pay and maternity pay
  • You mostly do clinical work
  • You get less say in how the practice is run, because you are employed staff
  • You can change jobs and where you work quite easily

GP Partner:

  • You are self-employed, and you are your own business
  • You get a share of the practice’s profits, and potentially can earn more
  • You pay your own tax and don’t get benefits like holiday pay
  • You still do clinical work, but you get more say in making decisions about how the practice is run
  • You often stay committed to one practice for many years, because you have a personal and business link to how well it does. This allows you to build a stronger relationship with other doctors and patients over time.

Your first steps into GP jobs

GP jobs are advertised under different job titles. When you’re looking on job boards, look for the following types of job:

  • Newly qualified GP
  • Salaried GP
  • Self-employed GP
  • GP Partner

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