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The UK Healthcare Education Advisory Committee advises us on healthcare training and research.

How doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals are educated and trained

Doctors, dentists, and healthcare professionals have different training periods, and universities and colleges follow their own admissions criteria. This page describe how each are educated and trained.

Doctors and dentists

Training to become a doctor or dentist starts with an undergraduate programme at a medical or dental school, which usually lasts five years. This leads to a bachelors degree, normally referred to as a 'first MB' for doctors and a BDS or BChD for dentists.

For doctors, this is followed by a two year Foundation Programme and then by a further 2-5 years of specialist training depending on the type of medicine to be practised. It can take up to 12 years of training to become a hospital consultant, or nine years to become a general practitioner (GP).

Medical and dental schools set their own admissions criteria. These are published on their own web-sites and on the UCAS web-site and applications are made through UCAS. Standards for medical and dental education are set by the General Medical Council and the General Dental Council.

Unlike other academic subjects, the number of places available to study medicine and dentistry is regulated by Government.  Current intake targets for England are set as a total of 6,071 students for medicine and 809 students for dentistry.

Other health professionals

Other health professionals - for example, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, dental technicians, midwives, and allied health professionals (such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, chiropodists/podiatrists, and dieticians) - undertake HE programmes in universities and colleges.

Many of these programmes include provision for clinical practice in collaboration with the health service and are funded directly by the NHS on a contract basis.

They include programmes for pre-registration nursing, midwifery and allied health professions.

Further information

For further information on training for health professionals, follow these links: