Becoming a doctor in the UK involves several significant steps. It is a path that requires  careful planning, dedication, and perseverance as you commit to many years of education and hands-on training.

Knowing what’s required to enter the healthcare world is crucial in  deciding whether this career suits you. It will also help you prepare for the journey, navigate it smoothly, and avoid the unexpected.

This blog post is your comprehensive guide on how to become a doctor in the UK. So, join us as we uncover all the necessary details as well as offer insight into the best universities for medical studies.

How to Become a Doctor in UK

To become a doctor in the UK, you need to go through numerous steps. This is to ensure you’re adequately qualified to take over such an important role in healthcare.

Step 1 – Get Into a Medical School

After completing your undergraduate studies, entering medical school is the first adventure you need to embark on. And for this, you need good grades, usually in sciences like biology and chemistry. In the UK, you also have to pass some tests such as the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT). These check your problem-solving skills and understanding of medical topics.

For a strong application, try to get work experience in healthcare settings like hospitals or clinics to show your commitment to medicine. Writing a compelling personal statement is also crucial. Share your passion for medicine, reflect on your experiences, and explain why you want to become a doctor. As such, you’ll make your application stand out.

Step 2 – Earn a Medical Degree

In the UK, the medical degree typically lasts five to six years. You’ll learn more about human biology and diseases during the first few years through classes and lab work. In the later years, you shift to clinical placements, where you work in hospitals and clinics.

This hands-on experience is crucial because it helps you apply what you’ve learned in natural healthcare settings. You’ll work with patients under the supervision of experienced doctors, gaining the skills and confidence you need. These placements are essential for becoming a competent doctor, as they prepare you for the challenges of the medical profession. 

Step 3 – Complete the Foundation Program (FP)

New doctors enter a two-year foundation program after finishing medical school in the UK. This program provides supervised clinical practice, helping you transition from student to professional. You work in various medical specialties, developing key skills under the guidance of experienced doctors.

The program focuses on building competencies in areas like patient care, team communication, and medical ethics. You must demonstrate these skills effectively across different medical settings to complete the program successfully. This training ensures you’re ready and capable to handle the responsibilities of a doctor, preparing you for further specialization or a full medical license.

Step 4 – Finish the Core Training

After the foundation program, doctors can choose pathways like Core Medical Training (CMT) or Core Surgical Training (CST) based on their interest. CMT prepares you for a career in general medicine, while CST is for those aiming to become surgeons. These programs typically last two to three years.

To complete these core training programs and move on to specialty training, you must pass specific exams and demonstrate certain skills. You’ll be assessed on your ability to manage patients effectively, work within teams, and handle complex medical or surgical situations. Successfully finishing core training is essential for entering specialized medical fields. 

Step 5 – Apply for Specialty Training

Finally, you need to apply for specialty training. This can be done through the National Health Service (NHS) recruitment system. You are required to submit an online application detailing your qualifications, experience, and why you’re suited for the specialty. The process might include interviews or practical assessments.

For a strong application, ensure your CV highlights relevant experience and skills. Prepare thoroughly for interviews by understanding the specialty’s requirements and practicing common interview questions. Also, gather insights from mentors or colleagues who have gone through the process. Demonstrating your commitment and understanding of the specialty will help you stand out in the selection process.

Step 6 – Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

Now that you’ve become a doctor, you must keep learning and developing their skills throughout their careers. This ongoing learning is important to stay up-to-date with medical advances and provide the best care to patients.

Doctors have many opportunities for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). They can attend courses and conferences to learn new techniques and treatments. Participating in research projects also helps them contribute to medical knowledge and improve patient outcomes. These activities not only enhance their expertise but also help them meet the professional standards required to maintain their medical licenses. 

How Long Does It Take to Become a Doctor in the UK?

Becoming a doctor in the UK is a structured process that takes many years, usually starting with five years in medical school. After graduating, you enter a two-year foundation program where you gain a broad range of clinical experience under supervision.

Next, if you decide to specialize, you choose a core training pathway, either Core Medical Training (CMT) for medicine or Core Surgical Training (CST) for surgery, typically lasting two to three years.. Following this, you move into specialty training, which can vary in length. For example, becoming a general practitioner takes about three years, while specialties like surgery or cardiology may require up to eight years.

The duration of training can be affected by several factors. Choosing a longer specialty training pathway, like neurosurgery, extends the timeline. Interruptions in training, such as taking a research year, maternity leave, or part-time training, can also extend the timeline. Each doctor’s journey might differ based on personal choices and circumstances.

Top UK Universities


Deciding which university to attend can be challenging. In today’s advanced education system, there are countless options to choose from. That’s why it’s important to do your research by closely examining the entry requirements, student satisfaction, and career prospects that each university offers. 

Based on an overall score across all these categories, here are the top 10 UK universities to become a doctor:

  1. University of Cambridge
  2. University of Oxford
  3. University of Glasgow
  4. Imperial College London
  5. UCL (University College London)
  6. University of Bristol
  7. Queen’s University Belfast
  8. The University of Edinburgh
  9. University of Dundee
  10. University of Leicester


Becoming a doctor in the UK involves several key steps. First, you’ll spend 5-6 years in medical school, followed by a two-year foundation program. Then, you’ll choose a specialty and undergo further training, which can last 3-8 years, depending on the field. Each step requires dedication and a commitment to continuous learning.

If you’re passionate about helping others and interested in medicine, this career path offers immense fulfillment and the opportunity to make a real difference. For more detailed information, consider consulting resources from medical schools and the NHS.

Ready to start your journey? Apply to medical school today!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How much does it cost to become a doctor in the UK?

The cost of becoming a doctor in the UK can vary, but tuition fees for domestic students are typically up to £9,250 per year for the standard five to six years of medical school. International students may pay between £20,000 and £50,000 per year.

Are there stipends for students studying medicine?

Medical students in the UK can access loans and may be eligible for NHS bursaries in later years of study, which help cover tuition fees and living costs.

Is it quicker to become a doctor in the US or UK?

It is generally quicker to become a doctor in the UK, where medical training lasts about 10 years in total, compared to the US, where the process can take around 11 to 14 years, including undergraduate education.