Medicine is a vocational degree, which will take five years to complete. Most graduates go on to become GPs, hospital doctors or surgeons; however some decide they want to do something else. As well as seeing patients, GPs also run the practice and with major changes in the NHS, GPs will now have more control over budgets and buying in resources and services as part of local ‘consortiums’. As a hospital doctor you would work within specialist fields within medicine, surgery, pathology and psychiatry. Senior or consultant surgeons see patients in outpatient clinics, lead a team during surgery and make ward rounds to see patients before and after an operation. Nursing is also a vocational degree and can be studied full or part time.
To study medicine you will need five GCSEs (A-C) including English, maths and science, plus 3 A levels (at least 2 As and a B) in subjects such as chemistry, biology and either physics or maths In Scotland you would need 5 good Highers, in the same subjects with English and science subjects at Standard grade. If you don’t have qualifications in science, you may be able to join a six-year degree course in medicine. After completing your medicine degree you will then need to complete a two-year foundation programme of general training, plus additional training specific to your role. For a nursing diploma, you need five GCSEs (A-C) including English, maths and/or a science subject plus two or three A levels for a degree. In Scotland, you would need 2 Highers plus Standard grades in English and maths for a nursing diploma and 2-4 Highers including English and a science subject to study for a degree.
Relevant paid or voluntary experience may help, e.g. as a care assistant in a hospital, or nursing home. You could approach care homes directly, check the NHS Jobs website or contact the voluntary services coordinator at your local NHS Trust.
Doctors will work between 48- 52 hours a week including some evenings and weekends. You may be expected to work an out-of-hours emergency on-call rota. Nurses usually work 37.5 hours a week, including unsociable hours.
Junior doctors can earn £33,300 - £41,300. Doctors in specialist training can earn up to £69,400. Consultants can earn between £74,500 and £180,000 a year. Surgeons working in private sector hospitals may negotiate higher fees. Nurses can earn between £21,176 and £27,534 a year, with Nurse Team leaders and managers earning around £30,460 to £40,157. Nurse consultants can earn up to £55,945.
As well as the NHS and private healthcare, the armed forces also employ a small number of GPs and medical staff. As a consultant, you will often find opportunities to work in the private sector. With experience, you may go on to lead a team or manage a department. Check the NHS Jobs website or NHS Trusts for nursing jobs.
Graduate profile: Adam Williams
1. What subject(s) did you graduate in and from where?
BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing 2004 Salford University, MSc Advanced Practice 2011 Salford University
2. What is your current job role? Please provide a brief description of your duties
I am an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Accident and Emergency in Stockport. My role involves the comprehensive assessment, examination, diagnosis and management of a wide range of patients including prescribing any medications, investigations such as scans and x-rays and referring them for admission into hospital when appropriate. This very senior advanced role enables me as a nurse to undertake a role similar to a senior doctor.
3. What skills, knowledge and qualities does your job require?
My job requires a broad range of advanced clinical skills including assessing patients, examining the main body systems and deducing a correct diagnosis based on clinical findings and creating a treatment plan specific to each patient that presents themselves to us. To work at this level I have had to undertake a two year Master’s degree in advanced clinical practice and work closely with senior medical colleagues to ensure continuous development and extending of my knowledge. I am able to perform a large range of advanced skills not normally available to nurses such as arranging scans, x-rays and other investigations to aid my diagnosis and management of the patients. I am also able to prescribe medicines for patients if appropriate and review and discharge them from the hospital. This role enables me to fully contribute to the multi-disciplinary healthcare team to provide a better service to patients and often discharge them from the hospital quicker and provide a very high level of quality care.
4. What are the benefits of the degree/qualification(s) you studied for?
The benefits of studying at Master’s level in advanced practice were that I was able to develop advanced skills in patient examination and diagnosis. This level of examination and diagnosis is not part of a basic nurse’s role and the course enabled me to develop these skills specifically towards urgent care, medical admissions and emergency medicine. The Master’s degree enables me to perform this role, but also to continue to develop my skills in any direction I wish to progress in such as to become competent in more advanced skill, such as managing critically ill patients, insertion of chest drains, insertion of arterial lines and invasive monitoring and to request a broader range of investigations such as CT scans. This continuous development of the role enables me to provide an even more comprehensive care package for patients and the feedback of this role has been excellent and patients are extremely grateful for this.
5. Are there any additional activities or work experience that helped you?
As part of my career, I spent time in ICU (Intensive Care Unit), A&E and Acute Medicine to gain experience and develop my skills in order to prepare me for becoming and advanced nurse practitioner. In addition, during my time as a student nurse I was able to undertake a clinical placement in the USA where I worked in an emergency department to compare practice to the UK. I also had a clinical experience within a prison in the UK, again to broaden my range of experience and skills. I also undertook the non-medical prescribing course which enabled me to become registered on a separate part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council website and allows me to prescribe almost any medicine for patients in the same way that doctors can. This means that I can ensure medicines such as pain relief are available to patients without having to wait for a doctor giving them a much quicker and better experience in the emergency department.
6. Is there any other advice you would give to someone interested in working in a similar field?
I would advise people looking to work in this field to take every opportunity to develop their skills and experience. I would advise that nurses wanting to undertake these advanced practice roles to ensure they have completed their foundation degree in nursing, ensure they have a variety of clinical experience in different settings and to undertake the non-medical prescribing course at their earliest opportunity as this will become an essential component in their advanced role.
7. How did you find your current job and what was the application process like?
I found my current role by searching for jobs on the NHS jobs site. Due to the advanced role and the massive responsibility on me in my day to day role the application process was the most difficult I had experienced in my career. After completing a detailed application form I was shortlisted for interview. The interview consisted of a ten minute presentation and a 45 minute questions and answer session after this to a panel of five very senior members of the hospital Trust including the lead medical consultant, a consultant nurse and the assistant director of nursing which was a very daunting and challenging experience!
8. What do you think are the main keys to success in your field?
The main keys to success are determination to succeed and continuously develop myself personally and professionally. I also think the key is to take the challenges I am presented with head on and continue to be passionate and ambitious in my career and my career development. I am always looking out for opportunities to improve my skills and progress my career and feel I have the best job in the world.
9. What are your future career options?
I remain an extremely ambitious person and the opportunities to continue into further promotions in the NHS are available to me. In the future I would like to take on a dual clinical and corporate role so that I can continue to deliver advanced clinical skills and practice to patients but also to be pivotal in shaping and developing patient’s services in the future to continue to change and improve them for the benefit of the patients. I feel that the only tangible way to do this will be to continue to progress to the role of either the Director of Nursing or Chief Executive.
10. How has being lesbian, gay or bisexual impacted your career, if at all?
I feel that by being a gay man in a senior NHS role enables me to be a role model to other LGB&T people in the NHS. I also feel it enables me to have a greater understanding from the patients point of view if LGB&T patients come through the emergency department and feel it is important to be out at work. Prior to attending the Stonewall Leadership Programme, I didn’t see my sexuality as being one of the most important factors in my life but that course showed me that it is important to not ‘edit’ my sexuality for the purpose of just ‘fitting in’ at work. It also enabled me to realise that people perform better when they can be themselves.
11. How important was it that your university provided specific services/advice for you as an LGB student?
I think it is very important that universities provide LGB&T services such as groups and meetings to provide a support network and a place to share experiences no matter how confident or not about their sexuality. Some of these networks may even be a life saver for those in fear or those being bullied or harassed about their sexuality which unfortunately still exists today.