Get a better understanding of what a Doctor does while you’re on your journey to deciding if Medicine is the right fit for you.

What Do Doctors Do?

A medically trained Doctor is a person who is responsible for diagnosing, treating and caring for patients. In the UK, Doctors are required to hold a valid license to practice and be registered with the GMC (General Medical Council).

Working in Medicine offers opportunities for a range of challenging and rewarding career options. A life as a Doctor might involve being based full-time in a hospital, working as a GP in a tight-knit community, or even working to influence public health policy.

There are over 60 specialist fields in the NHS that a Doctor can choose to specialise in, so there are many answers to what you could be doing once you become a Doctor.

Different Types Of Doctors

There are a variety of different types of Doctors and specialities:

  • Junior Doctors: Med School graduates undergoing a two year clinical training course (the ‘foundation programme’).
  • GPs: General Practitioners, usually based in communities and primarily responsible for seeing patients outside of hospitals.
  • Consultants: Doctors who have completed a minimum of six years training in their specialty field and can practise independently. They are required to carry out continuous education in their specialty through a system known as ‘CPD’.
  • SAS Doctors: Also known as Staff Grade, Associate Specialist and Specialist Doctors. They are senior Doctors in fixed posts, who hold four years of postgraduate training (including two in their relevant specialty).
  • Senior Doctors: Able to practise independently and unsupervised.

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General Practitioners

General practitioners (GPs) play a crucial role as primary care physicians in the NHS. They are often the first point of contact for patients seeking medical care. GPs are trained to diagnose and treat a broad range of medical conditions, including common illnesses, injuries, and chronic diseases. They provide comprehensive care, addressing both physical and mental health concerns.

One of the key responsibilities of GPs in the UK is preventive care. They offer vaccinations, health screenings, and lifestyle counselling to help patients maintain good health and prevent the onset of diseases.

GPs also play a vital role in managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. They work closely with patients to develop personalized treatment plans, monitor their conditions, and provide ongoing support and guidance.


Medical specialists are doctors who have undergone additional training and education in specific areas of medicine. These specialists focus on particular branches of healthcare, allowing them to develop expertise in their chosen fields.

Specialties in the UK include cardiology, paediatrics, surgery, dermatology, psychiatry, and many more. Each specialty focuses on specific conditions and treatments.

For example, cardiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating heart-related conditions, while paediatricians specialize in the care of infants, children, and adolescents. Specialists work closely with GPs and other healthcare professionals to provide specialized consultations, diagnostic tests, and treatments.


Within each specialty, there are subspecialties that further narrow down the focus of medical expertise. Subspecialties allow doctors to specialize even further within their chosen field.

For instance, within cardiology, there are subspecialties such as interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, and heart failure management. Pediatric neurosurgery is a subspecialty within neurosurgery that focuses on surgical interventions for neurological conditions in children.

Subspecialties require additional training and expertise beyond the general specialty. Doctors pursuing subspecialties undergo further education, practical training, and often engage in research specific to their subspecialty. This additional training equips them with advanced skills and knowledge to provide specialized care for complex medical conditions.


Surgeons are highly skilled medical professionals who specialize in performing surgical procedures. They play a critical role in treating various conditions that require surgical intervention. Surgeons undergo extensive training and education to develop the necessary surgical skills and expertise.

There are different types of surgeons in the UK, including orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, cardiovascular surgeons, and more. Each type of surgeon focuses on specific areas of the body or specific surgical procedures. For example, orthopedic surgeons specialize in treating musculoskeletal conditions, while neurosurgeons focus on surgical interventions for neurological disorders.

Surgical specialties require not only years of surgical training but also practical experience in performing surgeries under supervision. Surgeons continually update their skills and knowledge through ongoing professional development and staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in surgical techniques and technologies.

Medical Researchers

Medical researchers play a vital role in advancing medical knowledge and improving patient care. They contribute to scientific studies and clinical trials, conducting research to explore new treatments, medications, and therapies. Their work helps shape evidence-based medicine and drives innovation in healthcare.

Researchers in the UK collaborate with healthcare professionals, universities, and research institutions to conduct studies that address various medical questions and challenges.

They collect and analyse data, publish research findings, and contribute to the development of new medical interventions. Their work is crucial in improving patient outcomes, developing more effective treatments, and enhancing the overall quality of healthcare.

The importance of medical research in the UK cannot be overstated. It drives advancements in medical knowledge, helps identify new treatment options, and contributes to the development of innovative healthcare solutions.

Medical researchers work tirelessly to improve patient care and contribute to the overall progress of medicine.


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