Job descriptions and industry overviews

Doctor (hospital): job description

19 Jul 2023, 09:14

Hospital doctors examine patients and diagnose and treat medical conditions.

A trio of doctors analysing a patient's scan.

Hospital doctor: Responsibilities | Specialities | Salaries | Employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

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

  • meeting patients, examining them and discussing their symptoms and medical histories.
  • referring patients to other medical specialists.
  • performing surgical procedures.
  • providing pre- and post-operative care.
  • monitoring and administering medication.
  • liaising with colleagues including other doctors, non-medical management staff and healthcare professionals.
  • keeping patients’ records up to date.
  • promoting health education.
  • managing a department and supervising junior doctors.
  • leading a medical team.

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.

Junior doctors’ working hours should average up to 48 a week under the Working Time Directive (a set of regulations that outlines working hours and rights to rest periods). They can work extra hours if they wish (and they must be paid for them).

Graduate salaries

The British Medical Association reports that junior doctors in the NHS earn a basic salary of around £28,000 in their initial foundation year. On top of this, they receive additional pay for any work they do over 40 hours a week, at night and weekends, and an allowance for any time spent on call.

Typical employers of hospital doctors

Doctors are employed by the NHS, private sector hospitals and the armed forces. Vacancies for hospital doctors are advertised by the NHS and specialist sites.

Qualification and training required

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

The first stage of qualification is a five-year undergraduate medical education at an accredited medical school . Some universities offer a six-year course for students without a science background; others offer a four-year course for graduates.

You usually need a minimum of three A levels (one of which must be chemistry) at AAA or equivalent. Other subjects should include biology, physics or maths. You will also normally need five GCSEs including science, with five of these at grade 9/A* to 7/A or equivalent. English and maths will need to be at least at grade 5 or 6 – or B.

Some medical schools ask applicants to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) 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.

Once you’ve graduated with a medical degree, you’ll need to complete the two-year foundation programme. You’ll be paid as you learn, and you’ll work through a series of placements in a series of specialist areas. You’ll be supervised by a senior doctor and work towards the Foundation Programme Certificate of Completion (FPCC).

The final stage is core speciality training. Here you specialise in areas such as paediatrics, emergency medicine, neurosurgery and general practice. This takes three to eight years depending on the speciality.

Key skills for hospital doctors

Doctors need to have:

  • Manual dexterity.
  • The ability to solve problems .
  • Effective decision-making skills.
  • Leadership and management skills.
  • Excellent communication skills , including the ability to listen to and communicate with people of all ages or whose first language may not be English.

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