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Working in Medicine

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 5 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Career Doctor Career Nurse Career

As a career choice, working in medicine stands alone. There is really nothing else that compares to the time involved, the standards to be met, and the consequences of failure. And yet, as many as 500,000 applicants vie for positions in Britain's medical schools every year. Although there are many possible careers in medicine, most people consider only two: nurse and doctor.

What's Involved in Nursing?

The needs of the individual take centre stage in the nursing profession. Nurses are not concerned with specific conditions or illness, but rather work to provide care, counselling and advice to patients and their families. Nurses can find employment in a wide range of facilities, including hospitals, clinics, occupational health services, nursing homes and hospices. More 'exotic' work locations include the prison service, cruise ships or the armed forces.

Training for Nurses

Training for nurses typically lasts from three to four years, and students can take either a diploma or degree course. There are several ways to qualify for entry into diploma programmes. Degree programme requirements are more stringent, usually requiring at least two A-Level passes. However, for those with fewer formal qualifications, nurse cadet schemes are now available in many areas. The programme of study involves a blend of theory and practical training. Every prospective nurse completes the Common Foundation Programme, which provides an introduction to basic nursing principles, and beyond the foundation programme comes specialisation.

Entry Requirements for Doctors

Doctors diagnose and treat illnesses, infections and diseases and are responsible for the wellbeing of their patients. The field of medicine is changing rapidly with new advances in care announced almost daily. Dramatic developments in the fields of genetics, biology and physics require that doctors be lifetime learners with every doctor's career will include both formal and informal continuing education.

If you've considered a career change to becoming a doctor, you should have good grades at A-Level in science subjects and should be prepared for a few years of some very hard and stressful work. Obtaining medical training is long and arduous, with no guarantee of success. The time elapsed from the beginning of your undergraduate study to appointment as a senior doctor may be as long as 12 years, although GP status can be earned in nine years.

Gaining entrance into medical school is an accomplishment to proud of. Applicants will be grilled regarding their motivation, personal interests, hobbies and academic achievement. You should expect searching questions about why you wish to become a doctor. Your application portfolio should also include experience in medical-related areas, either paid or voluntary.

Training Programme

There are three distinct phases to a medical training programme in the UK. The first hurdle to be completed is at undergraduate level. This is completed at a medical school, which is attached to a specific university. During undergraduate training, students also complete clinical placements at a local hospital or other community setting.

The next phase is the Foundation Programme, a period of training that is completed by all UK medical graduates. The first year generally focuses on medicine and surgery. This is then followed by a rotation through three four-month placements in different areas. The second year gives trainees the chance to sample different specialisms before they continue their medical training. The Foundation Programme is designed to serve as a bridge between medical school and specialist training.

The final phase of medical training is often referred to as 'run-through training'. The length of this phase will depend on the specialism or career area chosen by the trainee.

Doctors work long hours and are expected to be on-call virtually anytime. The training period is stressful and demanding. Yet the intangible rewards for working in the medical profession can be very satisfying. In essence, becoming a nurse or a doctor should be more of a calling than a career choice. For those who have been called, however, nothing less will do.

Becoming a Paramedic

Working As A Paramedic is an invaluable career, as they are often the first to attend a medical emergency. Read our article to find out about the day-to-day job, working conditions, pay and entry requirements needed to fulfil the role.

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