Hospital doctors diagnose and treat illness, disease and infection in patients admitted into hospital or treated in outpatient clinics. They examine patients and carry out necessary treatment. Patients may be referred by a GP or other doctor, or admitted to hospital as an emergency.
Hospital doctors work within one of 50 specialist fields in hospital medicine. These can be grouped into four main areas, which are:
As well as treating patients they also have administrative duties such as keeping patient records, and writing reports and letters to the referring GP or other doctor. Increasingly, doctors undertake managerial responsibilities in hospitals and are involved in committee meetings and auditing.
Hospital doctors work very long and irregular hours, especially the more junior staff. They work shifts and an on-call rota system. Junior doctors should not work more than 56 hours a week; by 2009 this will be reduced further to a maximum limit of 48 hours a week.
The work of a hospital doctor can be demanding and both mentally and physically stressful. Specialists carrying out surgical procedures may have to stand for long periods of time.
Generally, working conditions in hospitals are clean, modern and comfortable. Hospital doctors work in different settings depending on their speciality. These include consulting rooms, wards, operating theatres, laboratories and special units such as accident and emergency or x-ray departments. They may work with complex medical equipment.
To be a hospital doctor you should:
There are approximately 62,000 hospital doctors in the NHS. There are also an increasing number of doctors in private hospitals. There are limited opportunities for hospital doctors in the armed forces. Currently, there is a shortage of NHS doctors and hospitals are recruiting from overseas.
Most NHS consultants do some private work and the number of patients paying for private medical consultations, treatment and surgery is increasing.
Competition for promotion through the various training grades can be keen, depending on the specialist area chosen. General surgery and cardiology, for example, are highly competitive specialities; geriatrics less so. Relocation to take up more senior positions is common.
If you would like to know anything about Hospital Doctor that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
General Medical Council (GMC)
350 Euston Road
Tel: 0845 357 3456
The Royal College of Physicians
11 St Andrews Place
Tel: 020 7935 1174
Royal College of Surgeons of England
35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Tel: 020 7405 3474