How to become a surgeon
You can get into this job through a university course or an apprenticeship.
To become a surgeon you'll need to complete:
- a degree in medicine recognised by the General Medical Council
- a 2-year foundation programme of general training
- core surgical training in a hospital which takes 2 years
- specialist training which can take up to 6 years
A medical degree normally takes 5 years to complete. Some courses have the option to include an extra year if you want to study a subject further. This is called an intercalated year.
You might be able to study a foundation year before starting a medical degree. This will depend on your circumstances or if you have not studied enough sciences. Check with the admissions department where you want to study.
If you already have a degree, you could take a 4-year graduate entry route into medicine. There’s lots of competition and entry requirements vary, so check with the admissions department where you want to study.
When you apply for a course in medicine, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) or Graduate Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT).
They test the skills you'll need on the course, like critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis, communication and scientific knowledge.
Medical schools will also expect you to have some relevant paid or voluntary work experience. The British Medical Association provides information on how to find a placement.
You'll usually need:
- at least 5 GCSEs grades 9 to 7 (A* or A), including English maths and sciences
- 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology and chemistry
From September 2023, you might be able to do a doctor degree apprenticeship which will take around 5 years to complete.
The apprenticeship is recognised by the General Medical Council.
You could then progress to the foundation course of general training before completing the specialist training.
Employers will set their own entry requirements.
You can gain valuable caring skills from volunteering in education, charity or social care settings. You could:
- get advice from the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust
- find volunteering opportunities through the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and Do IT.
- you'll need to register with the General Medical Council
The General Medical Council has a guide on what it means to be a good doctor. You might find this useful when preparing for medical school interviews.
You can use online resources to find out more about the types of interviews you can expect to get into for medical school.
Professional and industry bodies
You could join the British Medical Association for professional development and training opportunities.
You can find out more about becoming a surgeon from the Royal College of Surgeons and Health Careers.