How Many Years To Become a Doctor

Published on 08/02/2022 in
How many years to become a doctor

“Whenever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.”

Hippocrates

Medical students must take the Hippocratic Oath as part of the process to become doctors. To save human lives, cure diseases, and return the smile on someone's face are the greatest privilege you can have.

To be a physician is neither a gift nor a talent. It is a lifelong commitment to helping others. And to be frank, the road to becoming one is quite challenging and takes time.

First, you need to graduate from a medical university. After that, you will be required to undergo a foundation programme/internship. Lastly, you must complete 3 to 7 years of a residency programme or the so-called speciality training. In other words, being a fully certified specialist might take anywhere from 10 to 14 years.

This article clarifies all uncertainties regarding how long it takes to become a doctor, specifically if you study medicine in Europe and want to return to work in the UK.

How long does it take to become a doctor in the UK vs Europe?

UK medical graduate pathway

As an applicant to study medicine in the UK, most medical universities will require you to have:

  • High GCSEs grades (7 GCSEs, including sciences, with 5 subjects at grades 9 to 7 (A* or A) and English and Mathematics at least grade 6 to 5 (B) )
  • 3 A-levels at grade A in Chemistry plus one of the following: Biology, Physics, or Mathematics and one more academic subject

If you meet the academic requirements, you can choose the medical schools you want to apply to. Therefore, you should sit either the UCAT or BMAT exam.

In the UK, you can apply to only 4 medical universities on your UCAS application. It will be great if you are among the accepted students because the applicant to position ratio is around 3:1. This implies that entrance to UK medical school is extremely competitive.

Medical students in the UK get their degrees after completing a 5-year medical programme. The next step is provisional GMC registration followed by Foundation year 1 training (F1). After completion of F1, junior doctors are eligible to apply for full GMC registration followed by Foundation year 2 (F2).

After successful completion of both foundation years and obtaining CCT (Certificate of Completion of Training), students have two choices:

  • General practice vocational training programme lasts 3 years and turns junior doctor to General practitioner.
  • Other speciality training programmes. They usually last between 4 and 7 years. Successful candidates are rewarded with the title consultant (specialist).

Europe medical graduate pathway

Suppose you choose to pursue an MD degree in Europe. In that case, you can benefit from many things, such as a worldwide recognised degree, various medical schools, less entry competition, and affordable tuition fees. Let's dive in a little bit more.

Unlike UK medical universities, European ones have more flexible entry requirements. What do we mean?

You don't need to sit either the UCAT or BMAT exam. A Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Mathematics entrance exam may be required. Simple multiple-choice questions may appear in specific tests. However, other exams may include open-ended questions or a combination of both types of questions. Your high school science grades may or may not be taken into consideration.

After being accepted into medical school in Europe, you will get your MD degree in 6 years. Your 6th year in the medical faculty in Europe is an internship. This means that your last year may be considered equal to F1 in most cases.

So you have your MD degree, and you want to start practising in the UK. Easy! All you have to do is to sit the PLAB or in the future UKMLA (we will bring light to it later) and apply straight for full GMC registration.

From there on, there is no difference in the career path for European and UK junior doctors.

Steps to becoming a medical practitioner

So let's summarise each milestone in your future as a physician who has studied:

In Europe:

  1. Accepted into medical school
    • As an undergraduate student - 6 years
    • As a graduate student - 4 years or less
  2. Getting your MD degree
  3. Taking the PLAB/UKMLA exam
  4. Full GMC registration
  5. Speciality training - 3 to 7 years

In the UK:

  1. UCAT or BMAT exam
  2. Accepted into medical school
    • As an undergraduate student - 5 years
    • As a graduate student - 4 years
  3. Getting your MD degree
  4. Taking the UKMLA (for students who graduate in the academic year 2024-2025)
  5. Provisional GMC registration
  6. Foundation year 1 - 1 year
  7. Full GMC registration
  8. Foundation year 2 (1 year) or working in unsupervised medical practice in the NHS or UK private practice
  9. Speciality training - 3 to 7 years

If you want to learn more about medicine courses in Europe, read our article "How long is medical school in Europe".


“Health is the greatest of human blessings.”

Hippocrates

We would like to include that doctors are the greatest heroes.

Medlink Students encourage you to embrace yourself with patience, self-motivation, and courage and go after your dream. We will be right next to you from the start till you put on your white coat!

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Article written by Medlink Students
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