Medicine is an incredibly rewarding and respected career. Although it is exciting and dynamic it is ultimately about helping people, about being willing to put someone else’s needs first and doing all that you can to improve their health and well-being. It is far from an easy option – it takes years of study and hard work, but if you want to push yourself and you have a passion to improve people’s lives, it could be the right thing for you.
Medicine is a challenging career, but the two most important things you must have to succeed are an enquiring mind and the ability to relate to people as individuals, each with their own health needs. Very few areas of work can match the variety of medicine – it will confront you with something new every day. The profession is also concerned with integrity and is committed to uphold a number of timeless values.
Applying to Medical School
Undergraduate medicine courses last approximately five years and the course can vary significantly depending on which university you attend. Some universities offer Problem Based Learning (PBL) course which allows students to set their own learning goals and working through various clinical problems with the help of an experienced tutor. This is becoming a very popular form of teaching and is something you should think about when selecting your university.
Work experience is a really important part of the medical profession and it is important to try and get as much experience under your belt before you reach medical school. Although it is often difficult to find work experience opportunities in hospitals, there are plenty of alternatives that demonstrate your compassion and ability to care for others. Universities now require students to take aptitude tests such as the UKCAT and BMAT. These tests help support your application and they are used in conjunction with your personal statement and A-Level grades.
Medical School and beyond
After graduation from medical school, doctors undertake a clinical apprenticeships and learning is undertaken while actually doing the job. The apprenticeship begins at the foundation house officer grade and continues until you become a consultant or a GP. It is also important to remember that doctors have to update their knowledge and skills throughout their career.
To a certain extent, doctors are able to choose in which area of medicine they practice. With the practice of medicine there are over 60 different specialities, each with their own particular characteristics. For example, community-based doctors like GPs have daily face-to-face contact with patients, while other doctors might focus on scientific research that involves less patient contact.Your medical training will give you the opportunity to discover which appeals to you most and can involve studying abroad. Although the majority of doctors work within the NHS, opportunities exist in other settings, such as the armed forces, the Home Office working as a police surgeon or as a prison doctor, and many others. In your future career you will have good job security and further opportunities to work in another country. Medicine can take you wherever you want to go.
Once you become a doctor you will need to register with the GMC and are strongly advised to acquire medical insurance. Most doctors also become members of the British Medical Association (BMA).
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