In Wales, as in most other countries, students wishing to go into general practice are expected to follow a medical degree, which usually consists of 5 or 6 years of university-based academic study and a number of practical work placements, which take place in a variety of clinical settings. Students are required to pass written and practical assessments, as well as examinations in order to pass each year. Successful completion of the degree programme usually depends on passing a set of final examinations which will be a combination of written and practical tests. At the end of the degree course, students will generally choose a speciality which will require further study and training.
To qualify to become a GP, all doctors must first be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). In Wales, the GP training programme lasts a total duration of 36 months; 18 months is spent in a hospital setting and 18 months is spent acting as a general practice registrar in a general practice setting.
Advantages of General Practice
As part of the programme of practical work placements, most students will spend time shadowing a GP at some point during their medical degree; this will enable them to judge whether this would be a suitable speciality for them to pursue in the future. General practice has several advantages: firstly, the range of conditions and illnesses GPs come across is vast and no two days are the same. Secondly, GPs are able to build lasting relationships with their patients as most people tend to stay with the same doctor for a long period of time. In addition to this, general practice offers a much greater degree of flexibility than surgical or other medical specialities and the hours are much more sociable. Most GPs are also entitled to have bank holidays, weekends and evenings off work; this can be especially helpful if you have children.