General Practice Doctor

Job Description:

General practitioners (GPs) are doctors who provide medical services to people in the community.

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

GPs are one of the first points of contact for people needing medical attention. As a GP, you’ll see patients in your surgery or visit them at home.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • making a diagnosis
  • giving general advice
  • prescribing medicine
  • recommending treatment
  • carrying out minor surgery
  • referring patients to specialist consultants for tests and further diagnosis

You’ll be involved in running the practice and might also:

  • arrange support from other health professionals, such as physiotherapists and nurses
  • write letters and reports, and keep patient records
  • organise clinics and health education for patient groups, like pregnant women or smokers
  • take further training in specialist areas such as minor surgery or mental health

You’ll often work in a team that includes practice nurses, health visitors, midwives, counsellors and administrative support staff.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of medicine
  • science skills
  • knowledge of psychology
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • leadership and management skills
  • confidence and decisiveness under pressure (adaptability)
  • practical skills for examining patients and performing clinical procedures
  • excellent communication skills
  • the ability to inspire trust and confidence
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
    excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations


Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a General Practice Doctor (General Practitioner or GP) in the United Kingdom, you typically need to follow a specific educational path, which includes completing certain GCSE subjects as part of your pre-medical education. Here are the typical GCSE subjects required:

  1. English Language: English is essential for effective communication with patients and colleagues.
  2. Mathematics: Mathematics is important for understanding and interpreting medical data, such as dosage calculations and statistics.
  3. Science: You should have a strong foundation in science subjects, particularly Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. These subjects provide the fundamental knowledge necessary for understanding human biology and medical science.
  4. Additional Science: Many medical schools prefer candidates who have taken additional science subjects beyond the core three (Biology, Chemistry, Physics). This can demonstrate your commitment to a scientific education.
  5. Physical Education (PE): Some medical schools may consider PE as a valuable GCSE subject, as it can indicate a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, which is important in the field of medicine.
  6. Foreign Language (optional): While not always required, having proficiency in a foreign language can be beneficial, especially if you plan to work in a diverse community or wish to study medicine in a country where the primary language is not your native language.

Post School

You’ll need:

  • a 5-year degree in medicine, recognised by the medical council of the country you intend to work in
  • a 2-year foundation course of general training
  • a 3-year specialist training course in general practice

You may be able to join a 6-year degree course in medicine if you have no scientific qualifications. This includes a one-year pre-medical or foundation year.

When you apply for a course in medicine, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) or something similar according to the country you will be practising in. These test the skills you’ll need on the course, like critical thinking, problem-solving, data analysis, communication, and scientific knowledge.

Medical schools will also expect you to have some relevant paid or voluntary work experience.

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll work up to 50 hours a week, including some evenings and weekends. You may also be on a rota for out-of-hours emergency work and making home visits.

If you work in a rural practice you may have to travel to see patients.

Career Path & Progression:

  • You could move into medical work in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, the police or the prison service.
  • You could work overseas or within a particular industry such as sport, business or the military.
  • You could work in education, teaching students training to be GPs or go into clinical research.
  • You might also get involved in local health issues, maybe as a member of a local medical committee or clinical commissioning group.