Career options for GPs

Most GPs work in conventional practices, but there are a range of other career options available.

General practice: partnerships and salaried positions

GP principals play a full part in the management as well as the clinical work of a practice. Salaried positions are popular with newer GPs, who may want to focus on their clinical skills or develop a special interest, without taking on management responsibilities.

If you want to establish whether a particular practice would suit you, locum sessions can be a good way of finding out.

Developing a special interest

It’s possible develop an interest in a specific clinical area while remaining in general practice. We’ve developed frameworks to support GPs in developing a special interest.

Other clinical opportunities

Academic GP

Primary care academics are interested in university based medical teaching and conducting high quality research on issues relevant to primary care and its interfaces with other areas. Most projects rely on the knowledge base and input of, amongst others: statisticians, epidemiologists, sociologists, psychologists, as well as clinicians. 

Academic primary care therefore has a broad focus, with researchers exploring a range of issues from multiple perspectives, and have answered vital questions directly relevant to clinical care. Many academics continue to work part time as general practitioners throughout their academic career to ensure that their research is grounded in the real world.

Armed forces

The armed forces offer experience and training in specialist military disciplines as well as general medicine.


Charities working overseas employ GPs in a variety of roles, from triage to treatment. The work can be fulfilling, but most charities ask candidates to commit to a longer-term placement – usually several months.

Clinical assistants

A clinical assistant role could represent an opportunity to develop a specialism, with consultant support.

Pay is often less than for a standard freelance role, but the experience gained can help with applications for special interest roles. However, it’s not the same as being a GP with a special interest. Check for opportunities at your local hospital.


In most cases this means working for one of the indemnity organisations. However, there are a number of other employers who recruit clinicians to advise on medical insurance claims.

Some larger firms will provide training. Medico-legal work offers conventional office hours, flexibility and reasonable rates of pay.

Occupational medicine

This means working with employers, employees or third parties (like government agencies or insurance companies) on work-related health issues. It could involve advising on changes to the workplace, or assessing an employee’s fitness to work.

Out of hours

A number of GPs specialise in out of hours work, working for one of the many co-operatives set up by practices. Much of the work is freelance, but some co-operatives offer contract work. Hours are unsocial.

If you are looking for out of hours work, consider all the providers in your local area. It’s also worth staying in touch with the administrator you contacted for out of hours work as an ST3, they are likely to know about any opportunities coming up.

Police doctor

Recent years have seen more GPs taking on forensic work in addition to their regular practice. Much of the work is based on a duty system involving anti-social hours.

There’s lots of competition for these roles, which can lead to formal qualification as a forensic medical examiner.

Prisons and other secure environments

Providing primary care in a prison setting can be challenging and rewarding. Jobs are often advertised through locum agencies.

Ship’s doctor

Allows travel but means long periods away. Involves treating both passengers and crew.

Urgent care

Some hospital accident and emergency departments have a GP attached to deal with any ‘GP cases’ which turn up. The work is usually shift-based. Some organisations provide support for training.

Non clinical opportunities

Acute trust adviser

A number of acute hospital trusts recruit GPs to support the trust in a non-clinical role. Most trusts will let you continue with a few GP sessions while working for them.


Postgraduate medical deaneries recruit GPs to work as trainers, course organisers and in other roles.

Medical writing

It’s not always necessary to have a background in professional journalism: many editors are open to approaches from writing novices.

Pharmaceutical industry

Roles for clinicians include:

  • medical adviser
  • clinical research physician
  • medical director

There are also opportunities in clinical pharmacology, drug safety, and regulatory affairs.


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