Medical Doctor



OFO No: 221101





Other names for Medical Doctor:

  • Doctor
  • General Practitioner (GP)
  • Medical Practitioner
  • Physician
  • Primary Health Care Physician
  • Sports Medicine Practitioner
  • Sports Physician



Youtube clip – The Career of a Medical Doctor

For training options in South Africa – scroll down


What is a Medical Doctor?

Medical Doctors are on the ‘SCARCE & CRITICAL SKILLS LIST’.

A Medical Doctor (GP) is a highly skilled, primary health care professional.  They are usually the first person a patient sees when they have a medical problem. 

GP’s are often called ‘Family Doctors’ as they tend to treat the family or an individual over a long period of time.  They keep detailed records and are then able to track illnesses and family medical history etc which may help them in diagnosis and long-term treatments.  They may even be able to warn patients of potential medical problems because of this, like hereditary high cholesterol, so that patients can then take preventive action to lower their cholesterol themselves.

GPs are trained to treat injuries or diagnose a condition or ailment at an early stage. They will then advise and treat the patient for a physical or emotional issue and may prescribe medicine for the problem.  If in any doubt, they will refer their patients to a specialist in that field eg, an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, Psychologist, Neurologist etc.
Medical Doctors usually work in private practice, clinics or in hospitals, cruise ships, large companies, mines etc.

What does a Medical Doctor do?

  • makes patients feel at ease  
  • diagnoses problem and prescribes treatment for patients
  • refers some patients to specialists
  • dealswith a variety of patients (eg: ages, sexes, races, cultures, religions, etc)
  • diagnoses a variety of problems: (eg: rashes, sexual diseases, in-grown toenails, heart problems, bronchitis, diabetes, depression and anxiety,etc)
  • makes house calls when necessary
  • keeps up to date with new technologies, discoveries, medicines etc
  • keeps detailed patient records
  • attends conferences and other medical-related workshops
  • shares information with other medical professionals

Are you . . . ?

  • interested in medicine?
  • a peoples’ person?
  • professional?
  • organised and methodical?
  • caring?
  • discreet?
  • a person with excellent communication skills
  • able to work on your own?
  • a team player?
  • a good listener?
  • responsible?
  • detail orientated?
  • willing to keep up to date with medical science?
  • prepared to work long, sometimes unusual hours?

How do I become a Medical Doctor?


You will need to complete a 5 year Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery

  • Stellenbosch University
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of the Free State
  • University of KZN
  • University of Pretoria
  • University of the Witwatersrand
  • Walter Sisulu University


  • CLICK HERE to check for a training institution near you to see what they offer.
  • Make sure you understand their entry requirements for each course.
  • To avoid scams, make sure your institution is registered with the Department of Higher Education. CLICK HERE to check accredited Private Higher Education Institutions.


  • Work 2 years as a Clinical Intern


  • Designation: Awarded by the HPCSA. Only then can you call yourself Medical Doctor and put the title behind your name


  • Do 1 year of compulsory community service


  • HPCSA: Health Professions Council of South Africa


OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER: Pharmacist or Microbiologist

Is becoming a Medical Doctor the right career choice for me?