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How to become a GP

gp careers

What does a GP do?

A general practitioner (GP) provides medical care for patients in the community, diagnosing and treating illness, disease and infection. They see patients in their surgery or visit them at home. Having made a diagnosis, they assess the situation and decide on appropriate action: either giving general advice; prescribing medicine or treatment; conducting minor surgery or referring the patient to a specialist consultant for tests and further diagnosis.

A GP works in a team of health care professionals including nurses, health visitors, midwives, physiotherapists, dietitians, counsellors and others, as well as the administrative support staff in surgery.

GPs are responsible for running the practice, planning and providing treatment, and in England, commissioning health care from other health professionals. They must keep up to date with medical developments, new drugs and treatments.

Most GPs organise preventative medical programmes and health education for various patient groups, such as flu vaccinations for the elderly and others at risk, and special clinics for pregnant women, mothers and babies or patients with particular conditions.

The work of a GP also includes administrative tasks such as writing letters and reports, and maintaining patient records. Most patient records are now computerised.

Some GPs develop skills in specialist areas such as mental health, dermatology, diabetes, substance misuse or sexual health. Certain areas demand formal training and qualifications, whilst others require experience-based evidence. Some GPs are beginning to use video links for patient diagnosis, especially in rural practices.

What's the working environment like working as a GP?

Full-time work for GPs is defined as 37.5 hours a week. This can include evening and weekend work. Many GPs will do some emergency on-call work, although the use of deputising services is becoming widespread.

GP surgeries are generally modern and purpose-built.

A driving licence is likely to be essential in order to undertake home visits; in rural practices you may have to travel long distances.

What does it take to become a GP?

To be a GP you should:

  • have an interest and ability in science
  • be prepared to continually update your knowledge and learn new techniques
  • have an interest in and concern for the well-being of patients
  • have excellent communication skills
  • be able to put people at their ease and inspire their trust and confidence
  • have the practical ability and manual dexterity for examining patients and performing clinical procedures
  • work well in and be able to lead a team
  • be able to work under pressure and make quick clear decisions
  • work consistently to high professional standards
  • be able to train, teach and supervise staff.

GP Career Opportunities

Further information

If you would like to know anything about GP that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
Email: learning@nhscareers.nhs.uk

British Medical Association (BMA)
Tavistock Square
Tel: 020 7387 4499

General Medical Council (GMC)
Regent's Place
350 Euston Road
Tel: 0845 357 3456

Royal College of General Practitioners
14 Princes Gate
Hyde park
Tel: 020 7581 3232

Facts and Stats:

  • The biggest blood transfusion was carried out in 1970 and totalled 1,080 litres.
  • The record number of surviving multiple births is seven, recorded in both Illinois, USA and Saudi Arabia.
  • The thumb has a special section, separate from the area that controls the fingers, reserved for it in the brain.

Courses to help you become a GP