How does the medical system work in the UK?
The UK is home to a unique system called the National Health Service, known as the NHS. It was founded in 1948 and covers the whole country. This system is free for all patients at the point of need and is funded through taxation. It is important that UK medical schools train future doctors to work in this service. The NHS is involved in the UK medical education system as students spend two to three years learning within its facilities and from the staff. Patients will also willingly contribute to medical students’ education.
How does the medical education system work in the UK?
To become a doctor in the UK, a student will start by completing a first degree (also known as a bachelors or undergraduate degree) in medicine. Students generally start this course at age 18 or 19 and the course will typically last five years.
Once students have successfully completed their degree, they will receive two years of on-the-job training in different areas of medicine called the “Foundation Years”. These junior doctors are working within the NHS and after completing their Foundation Years they can choose which area of medicine they want to specialise in.
Why study medicine in the UK?
The UK has a long tradition of educating medical students from all over the world. UK-trained doctors go all over the world to practise medicine and are recognised for their practical clinical skills, intellectual rigor, and their personal qualities such as professionalism and compassion. The UK is very engaged with the international community, and international students bring experiences from many different cultures and countries which we recognise as enriching everyone’s experience.
The British medical education system attracts first-class minds both from within the country and internationally. The system offers them carefully planned teaching and experiences with experts and researchers in the field that develops their potential. Many go on to be world leaders in clinical practice, research, teaching and authoring textbooks and papers. In addition, many famous medical schools across the globe have been set up by British medical graduates.
Within the UK there is a lot of confidence in the training of our doctors, in part due to the strict regulation and accreditation by the General Medical Council. Medical schools also benefit from widespread guidance from the General Medical Council regarding all aspects of Medical Education.
For students in particular, one of the benefits of the UK medical system is that they can start at age 18 – they do not need to complete a degree in another discipline first.
How can I find out more about the NHS and the GMC?
You can discover lots more about the National Heath Service here and about the role of the General Medical Council here.