If you have been watching the excellent Junior Doctors on BBC3 you may have thought what are all the different grades of doctor and who does what and how do you get there? Well I am going to explain all!
PART 1 – Medical Degree
To become a doctor you need to firstly complete a medical degree at university. This takes 5 years if you enter straight from 6th form or college. During the 5 years you learn about physiology (the body) pathology (disease) pharmacology (drugs), chemistry, physics (yes, physics! This is needed for radiography, MRI scans etc). Lots of medical schools use problem based learning where students are given a scenario about a patient and have to diagnose them from the evidence they are given. It’s a bit like House but without the real patient! You also do placements to get practical experience usually after a year or so. In the final year you apply for your Foundation years as a junior doctor
PART 2 – Foundation Training
After your medical degree you are now a junior doctor and have to apply for placements for your foundation programme which takes two years to complete. First year doctors are called and F1s and second years F2s. If you watch Holby City Penny & Oliver Valentine are F2s and Frieda Petrenko is an F1. These roles used to be the Pre-Registration House Officer (F1) and the Senior House Officer (F2). F1 doctors spend at least 3 months on a surgical ward and at least 3 months on a general medicine ward. The F2s have three 4 month placements where they can go to specialist units and general practice (a GP) before deciding what they want to specialise in. During these two years the junior doctors will have to pass what are called competencies which are specific skills they must learn. Without them they cannot continue and have to repeat placements. YOU ALSO START TO GET PAID! The starting salary is currently £22,412 a year for an F1 and £27,798 for an F2.
PART 3 – Run-through Training
Once you have completed your Foundation Training you can specialise in what is called Run-through Training and again you have to apply for places in your specialism. To become a GP doctor this takes 3 years of additional training. In specialist areas such as cardiology, neurology etc, this will take between 5 – 7 years of training. You can also apply for shorter one year specialism posts, but there is no training after 2 years if this option is taken. The basic starting salary on RT Training is £29,705 and this can increase if you work more than 40 hours a week and outside the 7am-7pm time frame. After your RT training you can then become a consultant and can earn between £70,504 and £100,446 per year! At this point you will be around 30-32 years old, so it takes a long time to get to this point! GPs earn around £53,781 to £81,158 although you can be self employed and set your own salary.
So there you go. After 7 years of training you are let loose on patients and then after another 3-7 years you can start to earn the big money as a GP or consultant! However that is not what being a doctor is all about. If you want to become a doctor you have to want to work hard, help people and be able to deal with very difficult situations quickly and efficiently. After all, the decisions you make could be the difference between life and death.