Date of Publication: 01 February 2021
Thinking about the future is an integral part of human cognition. Many of our decisions and behaviours are influenced by our career plans, always looking to make the most effective decisions.
If you’re thinking about the next steps in your educational journey and wondering how to become a doctor, you’re probably looking at ways to better prepare and put yourself in the best position possible for when it comes to applying to Medical School.
For those looking to better prepare themselves or a career in Medicine, we’ve put together a short guide for different ages to encourage you to explore the opportunities available to you and help enhance your position as you move towards university and beyond with a career in medicine.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Doctor?
Unsurprisingly, the road to becoming a doctor takes a significant amount of time and commitment. Being a doctor is a highly prestigious career, mainly due to the level of expertise and technical skills which the career demands.
Wondering how to become a doctor? Or how long it takes to become a doctor? Well, it all begins with your school years.
More specifically, your secondary school years are critical in obtaining the qualifications needed to help you get into university. In the UK, most universities will ask for your GCSE grades, as well as your A-Level subjects and grades. Typically, most UK universities require:
- Seven GCSEs, including the sciences, with five subjects at grades 9 to 7 (A* or A) and English and Maths at least grade 6 to 5 (B)
- Three A-Levels at grade A in Chemistry and either Biology, Physics or Maths, plus another academic subject.
These subjects are studied in secondary school and sixth form or college, which, in the UK is usually between the ages of 13-17. After this, you most students then embark on their university education, which, for UK medicine courses, is a 5 year degree.
Once this initial five-year degree is complete, you will be a registered junior doctor and can begin working on general wards with training alongside. But, in order to become fully qualified in your dream specialism, you will then need to complete the following:
- A two-year foundation course of general training
- Two to three years of core medical training (CMT) or Acute Care Common Stem (ACCS) programme
- Four to seven years of specialist training, depending on your chosen area of medicine.
Find out more about the requirements needed to study medicine and become a doctor.
How Can I Prepare Now to Become a Doctor?
If you have ambitions of one day becoming a doctor, you’re probably wondering how best you can prepare now to give yourself the best chance of success in the future.
Take a look at our guide below to help ensure you’re taking advantage of all the opportunities available to you.
Preparing to Become a Doctor For 9-12 Year-Olds
Primary school years are critical in allowing children to explore their interests and find out more about what they may want to study when they grow up. Research has found that by the age of seven, most children have a “realistic” rather than “fantasy” aspirations about what occupations they want to pursue in the future.
In addition to this, a 2010 review by the UK’s Department for Education into the evaluation of career education in primary schools found that students who participated in career education opportunities had an increased understanding of the types of work available to them and the possible pathways which they could follow.
Medical Summer School, UK
Evidence like this suggests that unleashing career interests to students of this demographic is paramount in helping them to start putting the steps in place to think more about where they may want to direct their education. In other words, for many students aged between 9-12 years-old, now is the time for them to explore and discover their passion! And what better way to pursue and delve into an interest in Medicine than at a Medical summer school in the UK for students aged between 9-12?
Our junior students will get to spend a week at a top British boarding school, learning more about some of the most fascinating and informative Medicine topics, how to communicate and treat patients, and uncover some of the most cutting-edge research which is currently being unveiled around the world.
It’s also a chance to meet new friends from around the world, who are all as passionate as they are about learning and finding out more about Medicine here in the UK. It’s a truly supportive and enriching experience, perfect for fostering creativity and encouraging students to think more about their opportunities in the future.
Students will leave with an enhanced understanding of what the study of medicine actually means, and what subjects they should work hard at to ascertain a future in the subject. Their understanding of the history and development of medicine will give them a better grounding of the subject in a wider context, as well as an appreciation for the effort that goes into care, research, and development in a medical sense. It’s everything they need to start thinking about which GCSEs to choose in the future!
Preparing to Become a Doctor For 13-15 Year-Olds
Your secondary school years are paramount in your journey to becoming a doctor. During this time, not only will you be busy working hard to obtain the best GCSE results possible for future educational pursuits, it’s also the time you’ll need to start narrowing down your subject choices for your A-Levels.
Choosing your next options isn’t an easy decision, especially because they can have such a significant impact on what you study at university and beyond. Therefore, it’s critical you explore your career options now to make sure you choose the right options.
Research your options
If you think that you may want to study Medicine in the future, it’s important to properly research your options. Studying Medicine at university takes at least five years, and you want to be certain that you are committed to the subject.
If you have an interest in Medicine, now is the time to start researching the subject properly. For instance, are there any television programmes or documentaries that could teach you more about life in a hospital, or the daily tasks of a Medical professional?
As you begin thinking about your future in Medicine, it’s important to note that studying a Medicine degree can open up many different career avenues, and you should take some time to find out more about them to see which role may interest you the most. As an example, some jobs directly related to a Medicine degree include:
- General Practice Doctor (GP)
- Hospital Doctor
You can find out more about these different types of careers here.
Speaking to Medical professionals
Where you can, you should try to speak to experienced Medical professionals to learn more about what it’s like to study and work in the field of Medicine from someone who has experienced it for themselves. Ask your parents and friends if they know anyone who would be willing to have a conversation with you about their role. If you can’t find anyone who works in the Medical field, then try looking on YouTube for interviews with professionals, or find out more about the subject via some expert Ted talks.
Medical Summer School, UK
Alternatively, to get a taste of what studying Medicine at university could really look like, why not consider attending a Medical summer school in the UK? There are plenty of summer camps for high school students interested in medicine available to choose from, with both residential and non-residential options available.
When you attend a Medical summer school in the UK, you’ll have the opportunity to learn essential medical knowledge, explore different career avenues, and practice applying your skills to real clinical situations – all of which will give you an authentic learning experience and grounding for further education.
Not only will your Medicine summer course encompass the university learning experience, but it will also give you insight into what it may be like to study away from home and possibly, in a different country. With courses in top UK university cities; Oxford, Cambridge, as well as a Medical Science course in London, you have the opportunity to stay in a vibrant, new city.
Joined by other passionate students from around the world, you’ll all embark on a learning journey together, and experience life away from home for a few weeks – again, a great way to embark on an independent journey and see what life at a top UK university could be like.
Preparing to Become a Doctor For 16-17 Year-Olds
When preparing to become a doctor, the years of being 16-17 years-old are arguably some of the most important. On top of getting to grips with studying for your A-Levels (or the equivalent), you also need to be actively researching your university options and looking for ways to make the best application possible.
For most, this is the time when they solidify their ambitions and put the work in place to make sure their grades and extracurriculars can help them secure a place at a top university for the course they are interested in pursuing.
Medical Summer School, UK
To gain the best insights into what pursuing medicine at university could be like and solidify your career choice, you should consider attending a medicine summer school in year 12 in 2021. Starting at two-weeks in length, you’ll learn a foundation of medical knowledge and apply your skills to real-life scenarios, just like you would in your first year of university. On top of this, you’ll be studying away from home and at university, giving you an authentic experience of what it’s like to study and live independently.
Summer camps for high school students interested in Medicine are also a great way to demonstrate your passion for the subject to prospective universities. Not only will you gain all the knowledge and practical skills to help you succeed at university, you’ll also be demonstrating to prospective university admissions officers that you are really committed to the subject – having spent a chunk of your summer studying the subject at one of the UK’s top universities.
Furthermore, when you complete one of our Medical summer schools in the UK, you’ll be given a certificate of completion as well as a letter of recommendation from your tutor to demonstrate how far you’ve come – which many students use towards future applications and personal statements for university.
Alternatively, if joining a Medicine summer school isn’t a possibility for you, then you should look to gain any work experience where possible. Whether it be volunteering at a care home, hospice, or other care facility – future universities will look fondly upon students who have gone above and beyond their studies and demonstrated their passion for Medicine and helping others.
Going Beyond Your Learning
This passion too, can include reading, watching and listening to Medicine-related features – anything that can enhance your knowledge and give you more insight into the subject. Universities will often favour those who are committed to learning and show an interest in the subject outside of school, demonstrating their commitment to becoming a doctor.
Preparing to Become a Doctor For 18-24 years-old
Once you’ve finished secondary school, you may think your only way to prepare yourself on how to become a doctor is to go to Medical School. Although this is partly true – of course, you do need to train to become a doctor – there are so many other ways you can go beyond your academia.
Explore your career options
For example, if you haven’t decided already, you can take some time to explore the different career options available to you to decide what you may want to specialise in after your initial five-year degree. Would you like to be an anaesthetist? Or a surgeon? Do you want to work in a hospital? Or maybe treat mild illnesses as a general practitioner (GP)? There are so many options available to you, and you should spend some of your free time researching your options and looking into the training recommendations for the jobs which interest you the most.
Enhance your CV
Beyond looking at career options, you can also spend your university years looking for ways to enhance your CV for when you begin looking for jobs. As an example, you could look at embarking on a research project and submitting to The Royal Society of Medicine. Prize winners get the opportunity to present their findings to an expert committee and include the experience on their CV.
Alternatively, you could look at undertaking further work experience beyond your general studies. This could be in a physical location, such as a care home, or remotely, working for a helpline offering support or guidance. Anything you can do to demonstrate your compassion and commitment to helping others will greatly benefit your CV and help you secure the best possible post-graduate opportunities.
Medical Summer School, UK
For those who are yet to start university, then attending a Medical summer school in the UK before your first term begins can provide you with an enhanced understanding of your subject for when you start your course. These can be especially beneficial for students who may have taken a gap year or had a short break from education, as you’ll also get back into the rhythm of studying before embarking on your university education.
Even if you are already studying at university, a Medicine summer school is also a great opportunity to advance your knowledge and gain new perspectives. For example, our UK Medical summer school takes place in the renowned UK university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, giving students the opportunity to study with some of the world’s best tutors and learn about the many treatments and diagnostic tools which are currently being researched and developed.
Furthermore, these Medicine summer schools are often open to international students, allowing you to learn more about your subject and how it’s taught in different countries. You’ll gain a better understanding of your subject in the wider world, and could even inspire you to take a term at university to study abroad – the opportunities are endless!
Find Out More About Medical Summer School UK
As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, attending a Medical summer school in the UK can offer a whole range of benefits for students of all ages. From gaining advanced knowledge of your subject to experiencing life at a university and meeting other students from all over the world, the opportunities you’ll embark on during your course will shape you for the rest of your educational journey.
To find out more about how our summer courses could better prepare you for your future as a doctor, contact our admissions team.