We have a tendency to regard doctors in a higher light than most other mere mortals, and perhaps rightfully so. They literally have the potential to save hundreds, if not thousands of lives over the course of their careers. This however, often has the effect that it demoralises people who would otherwise consider going for such a job. Well the good news is that if you’re willing to put in the time and work, it’s achievable.
The majority of medical schools look for an A Level in chemistry and, more often than not, one in biology as well. A third A Level can be in most other subjects, though science or language related ones are particularly advantageous. If you already have A Levels, but not in any science related subjects then several universities offer a “pre-medical year” which is a 30 week preliminary course in chemistry, biology and physics. Some universities in the UK including St. Andrews and Durham – also provide access courses for those without A Levels that will allow you to begin the ascent to medical school. These are, however, limited and life experience (e.g. First Aid courses / Order of Malta placement / nursing home training) will be essential to proving that you have a commitment to wanting to help others.
As mentioned previously, without the normal set of A Levels, some experience evidencing an interest in the medical world is essential. A good way to gain this, whilst saving the money necessary to pay for a degree, is to work in a nursing home, where some general CPR and First Aid training are provided. There are also a surprising number of work experience programmes offered by the NHS ranging in length and scope.
Type of person
The two absolutely pivotal traits for becoming a doctor are hard work and empathy. The reality is that medicine is, at minimum, a 5 year course. It is a gruelling concoction of constant examination, long hours of classes and arduous memorising – and that’s even before you begin the job. At that point the heady, and often forgotten, reality is that your own choices will have massive repercussions in peoples’ lives. Gratitude will be rare and there is always the possibility of having to treat someone or something you dislike immensely, with the same professionalism that you would treat a family member. In this since, empathy is essential as the reward will most often have to come from your own satisfaction at having treated someon
Skills to become a doctor
A professional manner that comforts patients, as well as reliability, are both essential skill sets. More important still is an interest in the field of medicine, which ensures doctors don’t become complacent and lazy in their job. The ability to work long hours and think clearly under duress (in the event of an emergency) is critical, and a good memory for all those terms and ailments you learnt at university certainly wouldn’t hurt. Unsurprisingly, an element of I.T. skills is also required.
How to become a doctor?
At the end of the medicine degree, graduates are placed in two years of general rotations, known as Foundation Years 1 and 2. These are paid placements and provide a variety of experience in different medical fields. From there, you are assigned a job based on field preference and marks. All in all, to be a fully qualified doctor will take anywhere from 7 to 12 years of your life. After that though, you can take pride that you’ve successfully climbed the ranks of one of the most well respected professions in the world.
Fancy a career as a doctor? Good luck! We hope these basic tips help you along the way.
Written by Ethan Loughrey
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