Careers after Medicine – What are my Options?

By Dukes Medical Applications

Details of the career opportunities available after medical school such as hospital doctor, university lecturer, paramedic, research scientist and a medic in the armed forces.

What are my Career Opportunities after Medical School?

A doctor, right? Surely everyone who goes to medical school wants to be a doctor? Well, thankfully, there are a lot more options open to those who have graduated from a UK medical school. In this blog we will cover just a few of the career possibilities open to those who have graduated from medical school, what they entail, how you will be challenged in each role, and what to expect in terms or salary, demands, and weekly hours.

Hospital Doctor

hospital doctors

The general starting salary for a junior doctor in the public sector is around £22,000 for the first foundation year, increasing to £28,000 in the second year. A specialist doctor in training will start on around £30,000.

Working hours will be unsociable and long, usually dependent on a rota system. You will have to work weekends and evenings, and potentially bank holidays

Once you specialise, you will have many opportunities to progress up the ladder of medicine. You may be able to work in a more managerial role, or become a consultant. You may also choose to teach and train junior doctors.

This is by far the most popular choice of path after a medical degree. The title of ‘hospital doctor’ is intentionally vague, as there are so many variations of what type of doctor you can become if you choose to take this option. You could choose to be a doctor in a hospice, a GP, or an occupational health doctor. Whilst in your medical degree, or in your foundation course, you will most likely choose to specialise in an area that particularly interests you, or that you feel you excel in. There are many different medical or surgical specialties and some of them include, but are not limited to anaesthetics, paediatrics, pathology, trauma and orthopaedics.

You can also choose whether you work within either the public sector, or once you are a consultant, the private sector, meaning that the different options and working environments are multitudinous. You will be responsible for a lot of different tasks, including patient care, making effective and efficient notes, carrying out research, and liaising with hospital staff to make sure you are the most well informed in order to provide top-quality treatment.

Higher Education/University Lecturer

empty lecture hall

Starting salaries will generally range from £33,000 to £43,000, with some positions starting at even more.

Unlike the hospital career route, working hours will come with more flexibility, as lecturers will be able to plan their timetables, to some extent, of their own accord.

Future career prospects as a university lecturer include taking more of a managerial role within the department.

You may also be given breaks in your career to go and develop your research projects more actively, however this will generally only be given further on in your career.

If you want to pass on your knowledge and help to train other medical students, then there is always the option to become a lecturer. This will require teaching students aged 18 upwards, through a variety of forms. Those wanting to take this path will need to be able to educate others in a variety of different situations such as lectures, seminars, tutorials, medical demonstrations, and often increasingly using online resources, such as e-learning. Many lecturers will also choose to be involved in the students’ personal care in a pastoral role, alongside their academic progress. As well as teaching others, higher education lecturers will be expected to work on their personal development, regularly conducting their own research into different fields of medicine, in order to stay informed with the most recent advances and innovation in medicine.



Salaries typically start from around £21,000 to £28,000, with more experienced medics taking on leading roles for £26,000 to £35,000.

As one might expect, being a paramedic is a very reactive job, and one that typically requires medics to be on stand-by, or on call. Weekly schedules will generally be made up of around 37.5 hours, which can consist of weekends, evenings and public holidays, as the emergency services obviously operate around the clock.

After 3 years’ experience, you could become a team leader, specialist paramedic or emergency care practitioner.

There is also the option to move into operations management, or the more educative side of the business.

If you are a looking for an exciting, demanding and hands-on career, then you may want to think about moving into being a paramedic. This will mean you will respond to 999 and 111 calls, will be dealing with intense situations with high stress levels whilst maintaining a level of calm, collected professionalism. You may be delivering resuscitation using defibrillators, administering drugs, and carrying out on the spot surgical procedures. You will be responding to anything from minor injuries to major life-threatening conditions. It is important that you also have good driving skills, as you will most likely be driving an ambulance in a small team. You will need excellent communication skills, as you will encounter people in severe medical situations, who may not be able to respond well.
It is also worth noting that Paramedics often study a specific paramedic degree, however you may want to be a trauma doctor in an air ambulance, which will require a medical degree. 

Research Scientist


PhD students will tend to earn around £14,000, whilst research scientists who have an MSc, MPhil or PhD can earn from £25,000 to £35,000.

You will most likely be working approximately 37 hours per week, usually in normal working hours, however this can be flexible given the organisation that you are providing research for.

You may more into a more senior role, or a consulting role, or you may choose to take a role in which you pass on your knowledge through lecturing or presenting your research.

If you prefer the more research based side of the medical world, and you have always enjoyed experiments and conducting research, then you may want to consider becoming a research scientist. The range of fields for which this can be applied to is extensive, you may be using your results to develop specific new products, help combat diseases, or to add to scientific knowledge as we know it. There are lots of different specific fields in which to conduct your study, such as biotechnology, microbiology and stem cell research. You will need to love the exploration and experimental side of science, as well as the being able to work in a team effectively, as on many projects you will not be working on your own, but with a team of scientists.

Medicine in the Armed Forces

jet plane

Salary is similar to that of civilian practice, however medical officer can get a bonus of £50,000 once they have a year of probation. You will also get a generous pension, cheaper train tickets, and annual leave.

Working hours will be unsociable and long, usually dependent on a rota system. You will have to work weekends and evenings, and potentially bank holidays

You may want to go into a more senior managerial role, with the option of travel 

If you want to work overseas, there are many different ways in which you can achieve this through a career in medicine. However, one of the most demanding and exciting ways in which you can do this is through working as a medic in the armed forces. You will usually spend your foundation years in the Ministry of Defence hospital units in NHS hospitals. You will get the chance to treat both civilian and military patients. Medics in the armed forces also get the opportunity to travel on overseas placements, a enjoy a tight knit social life with fellow medics and armed forces colleagues, and have a secure job for 6 years after full registration. You may also be asked to practice medicine in conflict zones, as the medical services follow the army wherever health service support is needed. Any medical officer will go through basic training for these situations, in order to perform their services to the best of their ability.