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General practice (GP)

General practitioners (GPs) treat all common medical conditions and refer patients to hospitals and other medical services for urgent and specialist treatment. They focus on the health of the whole person combining physical, psychological and social aspects of care.

Training and qualifications required

Training usually starts with a five year first degree in medicine. You’ll then complete two years of foundation training and three years of specialty training (ST1 – ST3), leading to Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP). Length of training can vary according to your circumstances.

Expected working hours and salary range

Doctors may work up to 48 hours a week. The working hours may sometimes extend beyond the normal working day to include early mornings, evenings and weekends. Pay scales (2017): NHS salaried GPs earn between £56,525 and £85,298. GPs who run their own practices will usually earn more.

Desirable skills and values

You’ll need excellent clinical skills and be able to diagnose and manage multiple diseases and problems whilst dealing with the uncertainty of clinical presentations. You’ll manage time and people well, have highly developed communication and change management skills and work well in a team. It’s important that you can assess risk and take initiative in highly pressurised and emotive situations.


There were 36,000 GPs in England in 2014. Opportunities exist for research and teaching.
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