How and why to become a family doctor in Ireland

08 Jun 2023

There is a very significant shortage of family doctors in Ireland right now as there is in many countries around the world. In Ireland this is particularly acute due to a significant rapid increase in the population to over 5 million combined with the early retirement of many of the existing family doctors after Covid. We also have many new graduates migrating for a life experience particularly to Australia.

In Ireland it can be a very lucrative, rewarding and fulfilling career choice. For those interested in both a holistic approach to caring for patients and families by providing a lifelong service to the health of a community in either a rural of urban environment there are many opportunities and vacancies.

These are often in group practices in modern purposely built primary care centres where you are part of a multidisciplinary team. Some more rural and isolated practices continue to be single handed but these opportunities can often be in very scenic and tightly knit communities where you will be really valued.

The first step towards becoming a GP in Ireland is to have complete an undergraduate medical degree from a medical school that is recognised by the Irish Medical Council and typically involves a five or six-year Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS/MBChB) program.

Following the completion of the undergraduate degree, medical graduates must undertake a one-year internship in an approved hospital in Ireland or your home country. The internship provides a practical experience in various medical and surgical specialties and helps develop essential clinical skills. After successfully completing the internship, graduates can register with the Medical Council of Ireland, which is necessary to practice medicine in Ireland.

To specialise as a GP, medical graduates must complete a structured General Practice Training Program. This program, facilitated by the Irish College of General Practitioners provides comprehensive training in various aspects of primary care, including clinical skills, patient management, and practice management. The training typically lasts three to four years and consists of a combination of 3-6 month hospital-based rotations in various specialties and supervised  1-2 years placements in general practice settings. You may also be a graduate of a recognised training programme in your home country that is recognised as equivalent.

 On completion of the training program, doctors are required to become members of the Irish College of General Practitioners. Membership involves passing the MICGP examinations, which assess clinical knowledge, practical skills, and professional competence. The examinations are conducted in multiple parts over the last two years of the structured training programme. You may also have undertaken a similar exit exam in your home country that is also recognised as equivalent in Ireland.

After obtaining the MICGP membership, GPs in Ireland are expected to commit to lifelong learning and continuous professional development (CPD) to keep registration with the Irish Medical Council. The ICGP provides a framework for CPD, encouraging doctors to engage in ongoing education, training, and reflection to maintain and enhance their skills and knowledge. CPD activities may include attending conferences, workshops, and seminars, participating in research projects, and completing additional qualifications or certifications online.

Once qualified as a GP, individuals can either establish their own independent practice or join an existing general practice. GPs play a very crucial role in delivering primary care services in Ireland. They are the first point of contact and gate keeper to diagnosing and treating common illnesses, managing chronic conditions, providing preventive care, and referring patients to specialized services if and when necessary.

By following this pathway, aspiring GPs can embark on a very fulfilling and impactful career in a country where you and your family will be made feel very welcome and valued.

There are also a number of specialist recruitment companies who can help you through the process of registration and visa application as necessary and can also give you more detailed information on salary scales and living costs in Ireland as well as live vacancies. .

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Dr. Kunal Patel, Medical Director

08 Jun 2023