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Hospital doctors diagnose and treat medical conditions, disorders, and diseases through the application of specialist medical skills and knowledge.

Hospital doctors can work in a number of specialties, from emergency medicine to surgery.

What does a hospital doctor do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Hospital doctors treat those who have been admitted or referred to hospital. Specific responsibilities vary greatly depending on the area of specialism, but can include the following:

  • undertaking patient consultations and physical examinations
  • organising workloads
  • performing surgical procedures
  • providing general pre- and post-operative care
  • monitoring and administering medication
  • assessing and planning treatment requirements
  • liaising daily with staff including other doctors, non-medical management staff and healthcare professionals
  • writing reports and maintaining records
  • promoting health education
  • managing a department
  • leading a medical team
  • keeping GPs informed about the care of their patients
  • teaching and supervising trainee doctors

Hospital doctors can work in a number of specialties, including the following:

  • anaesthetics
  • emergency medicine
  • general medicine
  • obstetrics and gynaecology
  • pathology
  • paediatrics
  • psychiatry
  • surgery
  • trauma and orthopaedics

Typical employers of hospital doctors

Doctors are employed by the NHS, private sector hospitals, charitable/voluntary organisations and the armed forces.

Vacancies for hospital doctors are advertised online on the NHS website, in national newspapers and publications such as the British Medical Journal.

Qualification and training required

You can only become a doctor with a relevant degree and training.

The first stage of qualification is a five-year undergraduate medical education at a medical school attached to a university. You usually need a minimum of three A levels at AAA or AAB or equivalent, in subjects including chemistry and either biology, physics or maths. You will also normally need seven GCSEs including science, with five of these at grade 7/A or equivalent. English and maths will need to be at least at grade 5 or 6 – or B. When you apply for a course in medicine you may be asked to take the UK clinical aptitude test (UKCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT).

Applications to most medical schools are made through UCAS and should be submitted in the autumn of the year before the course starts. The standard length of this stage is five years. However, graduates may be able to take an accelerated four-year course. The typical entry requirement is at least a 2.1 degree, preferably in a scientific subject. A graduate who doesn't match these criteria could take an 'access to medicine' course.

The next stage is the two-year foundation programme, entered via a national application process that is largely online.

The final stage is core speciality or run-through training, when doctors specialise in areas such as paediatrics, emergency medicine or neurosurgery. This takes three to eight years depending on the speciality and doctors are awarded a certificate of completion training when they have satisfied the assessment requirements.

Key skills for hospital doctors

  • Ability to work long hours, often under pressure
  • Good practical skills
  • Ability to solve problems
  • Effective decision-making skills
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Communication skills, compassion and a good bedside manner
  • Drive to continue learning throughout career
  • Analytical ability
  • Time management

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In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

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