Dr Chitra Meyyappan • June 3, 2019
Dr Chitra is originally from Canada and came to the UK to study medicine at The University of Birmingham. She is currently working as a GP Trainee
So you are interested in a career in General Practice and are wondering how to become a GP in the UK? The thought of going through rigorous training and writing numerous exams can be daunting – but it certainly is worth it! Thankfully, I am nearing the end of this path myself, so I can share some valuable information on the steps involved. It has been a long journey - 10 years to be exact. I am extremely excited to be starting my career as a fully qualified GP in a couple of months!
Why choose general practice
General practice in my opinion is one of the most challenging and rewarding medical careers. Not having the luxury of a million investigations at my fingertips means I am forced to rely on my communication skills, clinical acumen and experience. I enjoy figuring out whether a patient’s bloating is because of irritable bowel syndrome or a sign of underlying ovarian cancer. This makes General Practice the most exciting and stimulating career for me. I also love the continuity of care, treating my patients as a whole rather than as a disease, and finally the flexibility to develop a portfolio career in an area of Medicine I am passionate about!
Although becoming a GP in the UK has the shortest training pathway of all medical specialities (approximately 10-11 years), there are a few hoops to jump before you can independently practice as a GP.
Steps to become a GP in the UK
1. Study medicine at Medical School (4-6years): Undergraduate and graduate entry medical students should complete their degree in Medicine. Entry requirements vary for each university, but can include the UK clinical aptitude test (UCAT), BMAT or GAMSAT for graduate entry medicine in addition to personal statement and interviews.
TIP 1: Attend GP conferences, join your Medical School’s GP society, become a student member of RCGP, complete research projects relevant to GP.
TIP 2: Speak to GPs and GP trainees. Why have they chosen to do GP? Are they happy being GPs
2. GMC Registration
: After successfully obtaining a medical degree in the UK, doctors should register with the General Medical Council (GMC)
. Full registration is granted after one year of training as a junior doctor.
3. Foundation Programme (2 years): Junior doctors are required to complete a two-year Foundation programme which includes work experience in various specialties as a hospital doctor.
TIP 1: I strongly recommend ranking General Practice high on your list of choices on the application form.
TIP 2: If you do not get a GP post, you can always arrange some experience in General practice in your Taster Week (usually in FY2).
Steps to become a GP in the UK - after F2
4. GP Specialist Training Application Process: To become an independent GP in the UK, a doctor in the UK must undertake at least three years of GP Specialty Training. Junior doctors usually apply for GP training in their FY2 year.
a) Applicants make a single application for all available GP first year training posts in the UK.
b) Assessment and selection process: Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (computer-based) and a face-to-face assessment at a Selection Centre. High scoring applicants on MSRA can skip the Selection Centre assessment and are directly offered a training post.
c)Successful applicants will be considered for posts across the UK based on their preferences and performance.
5. Register with RCGP: Upon successfully getting into GP training, doctors must register with the Royal College of General Practitioners.
6. GP Specialist Training (3 years):
a) This normally includes 18 months in hospital posts and 18 months in an approved GP practice in your deanery under the supervision of a GP trainer.
b) All posts are accredited and approved for GP training by the GMC.
c) Thespecialities available include various hospital posts such as General Medicine, Elderly Care, Paediatrics, and Obstetrics/ Gynaecology.
d) Some deaneries may also offer a limited number of Academic Clinical Fellowship and Global Health Fellowship programmes where time is spent on additional academic projects or where time is spent abroad working in rural communities.
e) You will be assigned to an educational supervisor based in General Practice who will be your point of contact throughout your time on the programme.
f) During all your posts, you will complete workplace-based assessments (such as observed consultations and case-based). In addition, trainees must complete MRCGP examinations – the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) and the Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA). Progress is monitored yearly by an Annual Review of Competency Progress (ARCP) Panel.
7. CCT and MRCGP: At the end of the training period, trainees have to gain Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP). They must also apply for Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). CCT will be awarded if a trainee has received a successful outcome on final ARCP. These doctors are added to the GP register and are then able to practice as an independent GP.
8. Portfolio Careers: GPs can develop a special interest in an area they are interested in by attending further courses/ writing exams. For example, I plan to do minor surgery (such as removing lumps/ skin lesions) and fitting contraceptive coils and implants.