THE EXPERT GUIDE​

How to become a Doctor​

If you’re a Future Doctor then you’re in the right place! This page has everything you need to think about when you’re applying to Medicine.

Here's a break down of what's here

Section 1: Routes to Medicine

Where do I start?

To be a doctor in the UK you’ll need a degree in Medicine. 

How do I apply to study Medicine in the UK?

Here in the UK, people who want to study Medicine apply to Universities with Medical Schools. The application is sent to them electronically through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, or UCAS for short.

What goes into a UCAS Application?

Your UCAS application will be made up seven sections:

  1. Your personal details like your name and address
  2. Additional information
  3. Student finance arrangements
  4. Your university and course choices (you get 5 total choices but only 4 can be for Medicine or Dentistry)
  5. Your education so far (including your grades)
  6. Your employment history
  7. Your personal statement and teacher’s reference

Application Deadline: October (the deadline is the year before you want to begin your degree i.e. Oct 2022 deadline for Sept 2023 start).

If you choose to apply to more than 1 university your application will cost around £24.

Find out more about UCAS here.

The 'standard' Medicine degree

Become a doctor through the ‘standard’ medicine degree programme (5-6 years)

What is the Medicine degree?

By studying Medicine you can graduate as a doctor.

The standard medical degree length in the UK varies from 5-6 years. This can be extended further if you choose to complete further studies in another subject as an undergraduate (intercalating).

The UCAS course code for Medicine is usually A100

Which A-Levels are preferred?

Each Medical School sets their own entry requirements and reviews them each year so it’s important to double-check specifics on their websites before you apply.

Almost every Medical School looks for applicants who have studied Chemistry, Biology and another subject of your choice at A-Level.

Examples of subjects that our team studied include Maths, Physics, Psychology, IT or a language.

Where can I study Medicine?

There are more than 33 universities with Medical School’s in the UK, so there’s quite a lot of choice! 

See them for yourself in our complete list of universities where you can study Medicine here.

Graduate - Entry Medicine

Become a doctor through the graduate-entry accelerated medicine degree programme (4-5 years)

What is Graduate-Entry Medicine?

Graduate-Entry Medicine (GEM) programmes are open to you if you already hold a Bachelor’s degree.

GEM Programmes are often 4-year accelerated degrees but at some universities it’s a 5-year course. It’s also sometimes referred to as ‘Accelerated Medicine Programmes’. The UCAS course code for Graduate Medicine is usually A101.

If you hold a Bachelor’s degree you can choose to apply for A101 (the GEM accelerated courses) or for A100 (traditional programmes). Some universities don’t accept graduates onto their A100 programmes.

I want to study Medicine as a graduate, are there any subjects I need to study in my first degree to be eligible?

Each Medical School sets their own entry requirements and reviews them each year so it’s important to double-check specifics on their websites before you apply.

Most favour or require applicants to have studied a Science or Health-related degree to a certain grade (usually 2.1 or above), however some universities will accept applicants from wider degree programmes too.

Where can I study Graduate Entry Medicine?

There are more than 15 universities with Medical School’s in the UK, so there’s less choice than for undergraduates. See them for yourself in our complete list of universities where you can study Graduate-Entry Medicine here.

Funding for Graduate-Entry Medicine

Concerned about how you will fund your Graduate Entry Medicine degree?

Take a look at our comprehensive guide to funding available for GEM students.

Access and Foundation Courses

Become a doctor through Foundation or Access programmes (1-2 years of extra study)

What are Access and Foundation Courses?

Access and Foundation courses are a different route to studying medicine. They usually involve 1-2 years of extra study at university before you enter the standard Medicine degree programme and have various UCAS course codes. 

They are sometimes known as ‘Widening Participation’ programmes and often have slightly lower entry requirements than the ‘standard’ medicine degree programme.

If you’re considering this route then make sure you do your research as these courses usually have strict eligibility criteria, and the programmes can vary wildly in terms of whether you’ll enter into the standard Medicine programme or not.

There are two main types of Access or Foundation programme:

  • Medicine with a Preliminary Year
  • Medicine with a Gateway Year.

Medicine with a Preliminary Year

These types of courses are often designed for those who achieved highly at A-Levels, or equivalent, but who did not take the required science subjects.

This course usually takes the form of an additional year at the start of a five-year Standard Entry Medicine course, the total degree lasts six years. The extra year brings students up to the necessary level of science to begin the Standard Entry Medicine programme. These courses are not designed to boost the grades of those who do not meet the entry requirements of Standard Entry Medicine.

Medicine with a Gateway Year

Gateway courses have been designed specifically for widening participation to medicine. These medical degrees are designed for those who are of high ability but who may be coming from situations where they have had barriers to their learning.

The courses can take this into account in different ways, for instance by using ‘adjusted’ entry requirements for applicants from low participation areas. Often these are six-year courses, with the first year being a foundation year. Some universities offer a stand alone foundation year, which allows progression on to a standard medicine course. Some students of these courses are allowed to progress without re-applying through UCAS if they pass the foundation year successfully. Other students are required to complete a full UCAS application, others are guaranteed an interview if they are in the top 10% of the year group – but universities do not guarantee a place at their medical school to all who are interviewed.

Section 2: Applying to Medicine

Admissions Tests

University Admissions Tests for Medicine

Will I have to sit an Admissions Test to apply for Medicine?

Most Medical Schools require applicants to sit an admissions test as part of their application.

These tests ensure that students selected to study Medicine have the cognitive abilities, values and professional behaviours required to work successfully as doctors in the UK.

There are three main tests – explained in brief below.

What is the UCAT?

The University Clinical Aptitude Test, or the UCAT is the admissions test that most medical applicants need to sit. 

It used to be called the UKCAT. 

What is the BMAT?

The BioMedical Admissions Test, or the BMAT, is the admissions test that some medical applicants will need to sit.

It’s a pen and paper exam that lasts two hours.

What is the GAMSAT?

The Graduate Medical School Admissions Test, or the GAMSAT, is designed for graduate-entry medicine applicants. 

It’s designed to assess the capacity to undertake high-level intellectual studies in the medical and health professional degree programmes.

Work Experience

Work Experience for Medicine

Gaining work experience in the field you wish to enter is sensible, otherwise you’re signing yourself up for years of study alongside paying tuition fees, without really understanding the profession you will enter at graduation. 

It’s considered essential to try and gain work experience to support your application to medical school, however what many applicants fail to recognise is that the quality and number of your work experience placements do not guarantee entry to medical school. Additionally, each medical school has different entry requirements and for some, they specify restrictions on the type/length of work experience which is acceptable. So take the time to find out what the medical school you’re considering applying to, requires or prefers.

Where should I get work experience?

Obtaining work experience can be difficult for some and easy for others, regardless of where you sit on this spectrum, you need to learn to reflect on your experiences rather than simply listing them and naming the hospitals, GP surgeries etc. that you attended.

We’d urge you to think creatively. Experience doesn’t always need to be gained in the NHS or by observing just doctors. Consider community organisations, charities and institutions where you could provide care or support for people.

Personal Statement

UCAS Personal Statement for Medicine

The personal statement is an important part of the UCAS application. It’s your chance to describe your ambitions, skills, and experience, and really demonstrate how you stand out from others.


Use it to convince admissions tutors you understand the role of a doctor and have a genuine interest in medicine.

Medical Interview

Medical Interview

Shortlisted applicants are invited to interview. Each university has their own interview window e.g. some interview Feb-Apr others, Nov-Dec. If you haven’t been invited to interview by April, it’s worth contacting the admissions team directly as most applicants will have either been rejected or invited to interview by April.

Want to know more? Check out these posts:

MMI’s explained

5 tips for Medical Interview

Section 3: Exploring the career

Meet the Medics

What’s it like to study Medicine?

Teaching Styles

Want to understand the different types of teaching styles at medical school? Read this post that decodes the difference between studying medicine at different universities.

Types of University

Want to better understand the types of universities available? Take a look at this post that runs through the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Insight into life at Medical School

Watch our playlist of official university videos to see what it’s like to study around the UK.

New places at Medical Schools

New places at Medical School

Did you hear last year that Medical School’s have been allowed to open up more places than ever before? 

Some existing Medical School’s are being allowed to open their doors to more students than ever before, and some new Medical Schools have been established too. We have all you need to know about it here.

Here’s information about the 5 new Medical Schools too.

Where do doctors work?

Where do doctors work?

Working as part of a multidisciplinary professional team, doctors can work:

  • in hospital, including A&E, Operating Theatres and in specialist wards
  • in the community, including GP surgeries
  • in research
  • abroad, e.g. international volunteering, working as a doctor in other countries etc
  • in the army

A career as a doctor is dynamic and demanding, there’s great responsibility and it’s incredibly rewarding.

Doctors assess, investigate, diagnose, develop and implement management and treatment plans for their patients.

Doctors provide care and support to patients and their families throughout their lives. As a doctor you support patients to make informed choices about their care.

Doctors participate in training and supervision of junior colleagues, research, innovation and pursue their specialist interests. Doctors link theoretical scientific principles to patient care.

You can develop experience and knowledge in 40+ different specialties and can further sub-specialise in particular areas of interest. Work is carried out in multidisciplinary teams in both hospital and community healthcare settings.