How to Become a GP – General Practitioner in the NHS (UK)

When you’re thinking about how to become a GP or a family doctor, it’s all about going the extra mile in your medical journey. These are the doctors we usually visit first for regular health check-ups or those everyday illnesses. What makes them special is their knack for treating a variety of health issues, not just focusing on one part of the body. After medical school, these doctors don’t stop learning; they continue to study and get hands-on experience in different health fields. This extra effort is crucial for them to effectively understand and tackle various health problems. So, when you’re looking at how to become a GP, remember it’s about committing to the overall health of your community, not just treating individual symptoms. Their path to becoming a GP showcases their dedication to taking care of our health in a comprehensive way.

Table of Contents

What Does A GP Do?

As the initial point of contact for patients, general practitioners (GPs) are vital to the healthcare system. They provide comprehensive medical care, ranging from diagnosing illnesses to advising on health maintenance. For those interested in how to become a GP, it’s essential to understand the diverse responsibilities they handle.

Initial Health Assessments

GPs conduct initial health evaluations, identifying symptoms and potential health issues. They listen carefully to patients, understanding their concerns compassionately.

Diagnosing Illnesses

Utilising their medical knowledge, GPs diagnose a wide range of conditions. They interpret medical tests and identify the root cause of symptoms, ensuring accurate diagnoses.

Creating Treatment Plans

Once a diagnosis is made, GPs develop personalised treatment plans. These plans may include medications, lifestyle changes, or referrals to specialists, tailored to each patient’s needs.

Preventive Healthcare Advice

Emphasising preventive care, GPs advise patients on how to maintain good health. This includes guidance on diet, exercise, and healthy habits, aimed at preventing future health issues.

Chronic Disease Management

GPs play a pivotal role in managing chronic diseases like diabetes or hypertension. They monitor patients’ conditions and adjust treatments as necessary, providing long-term care.

Referrals to Specialists

When specialised care is needed, GPs refer patients to appropriate medical specialists. They ensure a seamless transition, coordinating care with other healthcare professionals.

Maintaining Patient Records

Accurate record-keeping is essential for GPs. They document patients’ medical histories, treatments, and progress, which is vital for ongoing care.

Providing Emotional Support

Beyond physical health, GPs also address emotional and mental well-being. They offer support and counsel patients through health challenges, ensuring holistic care.

In conclusion, the role of a GP is multifaceted and requires a broad skill set. They are not only medical experts but also compassionate advisors who guide patients through their health journeys. It’s obvious that being a general practitioner (GP) requires a commitment to patient care as well as a lifelong learning process in the medical field. 

How to Become a GP - General Practitioner in the NHS (UK)

What Are the Different Types of GPs?

In the healthcare system, general practitioners (GPs) are essential since they are the initial point of contact for patients seeking medical guidance, diagnosis, and treatment. However, understanding the various types of GPs is crucial, especially for those considering a career in this field. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of GPs, presented in a simple, professional, and accessible manner.

Family Practice GPs

These doctors manage health care for people of all ages. They treat a wide range of conditions and provide preventive care. This includes regular check-ups, vaccinations, and health advice. They’re like the all-rounders of the medical field.

Pediatric GPs

Specialising in children’s health, these GPs focus on treating infants, children, and teenagers. They’re experts in childhood illnesses and development. Think of them as child health specialists.

Geriatric GPs

They focus on elderly patients, addressing issues like chronic illnesses, mobility, and other age-related health problems. They’re essentially the guardians of senior health.

Emergency Medicine GPs

These GPs work primarily in emergency departments. They’re trained to handle acute illnesses and injuries. They’re the frontline warriors in medical crises.

Rural GPs

Serving in rural or remote areas, these doctors handle a variety of medical conditions due to the limited availability of specialists. They’re the versatile heroes in less accessible regions.

Obstetrics and Gynecology GPs

Some GPs have additional training in women’s health, including pregnancy and childbirth. They are the go-to experts for women’s health issues.

Each of these types plays a crucial role in delivering comprehensive healthcare. For those wondering how to become a GP, it typically involves completing medical school followed by specialised training in general practice. This journey requires dedication, compassion, and a commitment to lifelong learning.

How to Become a GP - General Practitioner in the NHS (UK)

How to Become a GP – General Practitioner in the NHS (UK) 

Becoming a General Practitioner (GP) in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is a rewarding yet demanding career path. This guide provides a straightforward roadmap for those aspiring to this noble profession.

  1. Gain a Medical Degree

The first step in your journey to becoming a GP is to obtain a medical degree from a recognised university. Typically, this involves a five to six-year course, combining theoretical knowledge with practical experience. It’s crucial to focus on all aspects of medicine, as GPs need a broad understanding of various health issues.

  1. Complete Foundation Training

After graduating, you must undertake two years of foundation training. This period consists of working in different medical specialities, including surgery and general medicine. It’s a time to apply your knowledge in real-world settings, developing essential skills under supervision.

  1. Specialist GP Training

Next, enter a three-year GP speciality training program. This phase hones your skills specifically for general practice. You’ll experience working in different GP surgeries and possibly other settings like hospitals, gaining exposure to a wide range of patient cases.

  1. Pass Membership Examinations

To qualify as a GP, you’ll need to pass the Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP) exams. These assessments test your clinical skills and theoretical knowledge, ensuring you’re prepared for the responsibilities of a GP.

  1. Register with the GMC

After passing your training and tests, you can register with the General Medical Council (GMC). Registration is mandatory to practice as a GP in the UK, symbolising your adherence to professional standards.

  1. Continuous Professional Development

Once qualified, GPs must engage in ongoing learning. This promise guarantees that you keep the best standards of care and remain informed about medical breakthroughs. Join courses like – Duty of Candour in Healthcare: Ethical Practices and Legal Obligations, International Healthcare Policy, and Study Skills for Healthcare.

  1. Find Employment

With your qualifications, you can seek employment in various settings, including NHS practices, private clinics, or even overseas. It’s important to find a role that suits your career aspirations and personal life.

  1. Maintain a Work-Life Balance

Finally, remember that being a GP can be challenging. Balancing professional commitments with personal well-being is vital for a long and fulfilling career.


In conclusion, the path to becoming a GP in the NHS involves extensive education and training, coupled with a commitment to lifelong learning. Although the path is difficult, being a general practitioner is highly fulfilling and gives you the opportunity to have a big impact on people’s lives and communities. With determination and passion, you can excel in this vital and respected profession.

How to Become a GP - General Practitioner in the NHS (UK)

What Qualifications Needed to be a GP in the UK?

Embarking on the journey to become a General Practitioner (GP) in the UK is an intricate and rewarding process, encompassing several key steps. Each stage is crucial, building towards a career at the forefront of patient care and community health.

Obtain a Medical Degree

The first and foundational step is to obtain a medical degree from a recognised university. This intensive program, typically spanning five to six years, provides comprehensive knowledge in medical sciences, coupled with clinical skills through practical placements. It’s the bedrock of all future medical practice.

Complete Foundation Training

After earning the medical degree, the next step is a two-year foundation program. This phase involves working in various medical settings, including hospitals and clinics. It offers broad exposure to different medical specialities, helping to develop a well-rounded medical expertise.

Choose General Practice Specialisation

Upon completing the foundation program, an aspiring GP must choose to specialise in general practice. This decision is critical, guiding the subsequent training path and career focus.

Enter GP Specialist Training 

This three-year training program is specifically tailored for general practice. It involves a combination of hospital placements and hands-on experience in GP surgeries, focusing on primary healthcare, patient management, and community health.

Pass RCGP Examinations

Concurrently, candidates are required to pass the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) examinations. These challenging exams assess both the clinical skills and theoretical knowledge essential for a GP, ensuring high standards of patient care.

Obtain GP Registration

Successful completion of the RCGP examinations and GP specialist training leads to registration with the General Medical Council (GMC). This formal registration is a vital step in granting the license to practice as a GP in the UK.

Engage in Continuous Professional Development

The journey doesn’t end with registration. A GP must commit to lifelong learning through continuous professional development (CPD). This ensures they remain up-to-date with medical advancements and maintain the highest standards of care. You can join Studyhub courses like – CSTF Patient Moving and Handling: Ensuring Safe Healthcare Practices, Pharmacology Diploma, Human Anatomy, Physiology and Medical Terminology Diploma.


In conclusion, the path to becoming a GP in the UK is a journey of rigorous education and practical training, demanding dedication and a commitment to lifelong learning. It’s a pathway that leads not just to a profession, but to a vital role in the healthcare system, with the rewarding opportunity to make a significant impact on individual lives and community health.

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How much does a GP earn in the UK?


General Practitioners (GPs) in the UK are essential to healthcare, often being the first medical contact. The salary of a GP varies, starting around £60,000 for newcomers, and can rise above £90,000 with experience and senior roles. Location also influences income; for example, GPs in London typically earn more. The path to becoming a GP involves a medical degree, a two-year foundation program, and a three-year specialised training program. This rigorous journey ensures that GPs are well-prepared for their vital role in patient care. GPs in the NHS enjoy stable incomes and benefits, while those in private practice may earn more but with greater business responsibilities. Ultimately, a GP’s career in the UK is both financially and professionally rewarding.



The following steps are usually involved in the procedure for a foreign national to become a General Practitioner (GP) in the UK:

  • Medical Degree: Obtain a medical degree recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK.

  • GMC Registration: Secure registration with the GMC, which might require passing the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test or having an accepted postgraduate qualification.

  • GP Training: Complete a three-year specialised GP training program in the UK.

The entire process of becoming a GP, including medical education and specialised training, can take approximately 10 years.

GPs in the UK typically work around 37 to 40 hours per week, although this can vary based on the practice and whether they are full-time or part-time. The working hours might include a mix of consultations, administrative tasks, and possibly on-call duties.

December 19, 2023

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