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Being a Female Doctor

Vital Statistics
  • Hours: Varies, usually minimum of 40 hours for full time.

  • Starting salary: usually £26,000 for fy1 doctors

  • Qualifications required: Medical degree plus a qualification in your specialty. For a GP it's a MRCGP.

  • Women are more likely than men to work in healthcare, especially nursing (women make up 89.4% of registered nurses and 90.8% of nurse practitioners as of 2015.

  • However, women are less represented in other medical professions. Less than half (37.9%) of physicians and surgeons were women (source).

What's it like being a Doctor?

Celia is a General Practitioner in the UK. She works at a clinic in North London and lives with her husband and son (and various pets!) in North London.

Job title: GP (General Practitioner)

Current employer: NHS (National Health Service)

Industry: Medical

Hours: 40-45 across 4 days.

What's it like being a doctor?

Its a physically and emotionally demanding job and can be stressful especially given the current financial pressures on the NHS. However, its really varied which keeps it interesting and exciting and you get to work with some great people. Its a real privilege to be able to help patients and their families. 

What do you do in your job?

I consult with patients in the GP surgery. I ask them questions abut what is wrong with them, I'll examine them, formulate diagnoses, prescribe medication, perform procedures such as blood or smear tests. Sometimes I'll go on home visits and assess housebound patients who can't come to the surgery. I also attend meetings at the surgery and at a local level with other professionals working in the medical field.

What does a typical day look like?

I wake up at 6. My husband and I take it in turns to drop our son off at nursery and I will get into work between 7:30 and 8:30. When I arrive I check results which have come in overnight and read over my list of patients booked in for the morning. The morning surgery starts at 9am and I will have 14 patients booked in. If it is a busy day there will also be extras - usually 2-4. I finish my clinic between 11:30 and 12:30 and then I have 3 telephone appointments with patients to discuss results for example. If I am ‘on call’ then any additional phone calls/jobs also fall to me to manage. Once I have finished my phone calls I will go and visit patients at home who are unable to come to the surgery. Most days I have one home visit but it can be more. I complete these on foot.


When I get back to the surgery I eat lunch at my desk while checking and acting on results, signing repeat prescriptions and reading and actioning letters written by hospital consultants. I also write referrals and make phone calls relating to patients I have seen in the morning.  I would usually have about 40 results, 40 prescriptions and 40 letters a day. My afternoon clinic starts at different times - usually between 2pm and 3:30pm. I see 12 patients in the afternoon and then I have to continue my paperwork . I usually leave work between 7 and 7:30 or earlier if I have to collect my son in which case i may log on from home to complete my admin. 

How long have you been a doctor?

What made you want to become a doctor?

All doctors go into medicine wanting to help people. But I loved science, but also wanted a job where I could engage with people. ​​

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Learning about people.

What did you study to be a doctor?

At school I studied science and went on to Oxford University to get my degree in medicine (BM ChB). For A-Levels, I studied chemistry, biology, maths and English. I also studied music which helped, as extra-curricular activities are required by medical schools. I've now been qualified for about 8 years. 

What were your favourite subjects at school?

Biology, Chemistry, English.

What did you want to be as a child when you 'grew up'?

A marine biologist.

What do you think are attitudes towards and expectations of female doctors?

General Practice is very mixed in terms of gender. I think there is a perception that all women will want babies and to work part-time however.

Are people normally surprised when they find out what you do?

Yes sometimes, patients have referred to me as 'nurse'.

What are the challenges and benefits of being a doctor?

There are lots of benefits, but specific to being a female doctor, patients self-select often, so women choose a female doctor for gynaecological issues so you become better at dealing with these issues than a male GP.


Challenges in terms of being a female doctor can be that some older, male patients do not respect women. Also, it can be physically threatening at times but we receive training on how to deal with this.

What advice would you give to younger girls who are aspiring scientists, or who haven't even considered it as a career?

I think Science careers are great as they offer the opportunity to use your problem-solving skills. I also love the practical aspect of my job and personally if I was sat behind a desk all day I would struggle. 

3 things you have to love to be a doctor are...

Multi-tasking, talking to people, having a late lunch.

One of my favourite days was...

When the husband of a patient called me because his wife sounded very unwell. I went straight out to see the patient at home to find she was really ill. I started some initial treatment at their home and then waited with them until the ambulance arrived. I was late for my afternoon clinic but was glad I could help make them more comfortable and prevent the situation escalating. Later, the family wrote to thank me, which made me really happy. 

"All doctors go into medicine wanting to help people. But I loved science, but also wanted a job where I could engage with people. ​​"

- Celia

Useful Resources:
  • BMA: The British Medical Association is the trade union and professional body for doctors in the UK.

  • Becoming a GP

  • Genearl Medical Council: Learn more about becoming a doctor in the UK.

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