How to become a doctor in Ireland (With helpful steps)

Updated 4 July 2023

Doctors provide medical care for patients in a variety of different environments such as hospitals, clinics or medical centres. Professionals with medical training and expertise can choose to specialise in one specific area of health, which means there are many different types of doctors. Learning about how to become a doctor in Ireland and what roles they have in the workplace can help you to decide if you want to pursue this career. In this article, we answer the question 'how to become a doctor in Ireland?' look at what a doctor actually does and what your work environment might look like.

What is a doctor?

A doctor is a medical professional who provides medical help and expertise to patients who need it. There are many types of doctors, just as there are many types of medicine. This means there are lots of opportunities to choose the area you want to work in as a doctor. Doctors go through a long period of study and education to become certified as medical professionals. Doctors work all throughout the island in many settings, such as hospitals, clinics or medical centres. This includes working in rural areas, where travel can be necessary to reach the patients.

Doctors use their medical skills to diagnose and treat patients with illnesses. Once a doctor has a comprehensive list of symptoms, they try to diagnose and find a solution to the illness. This can include referring patients to specialists or treating the patient directly. Doctors usually work with a support staff of nurses and other medical personnel. Because of the wide range of illnesses and diseases a doctor can encounter, it's important for them to stay up-to-date with the latest in medical knowledge and treatments.

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How to become a doctor in Ireland

If you want to learn the answer to the question 'how to become a doctor in Ireland?' then learning about the steps you can take to pursue this goal can be helpful. Becoming a doctor involves dedicating a large amount of time and energy to pursuing a single goal. A bachelor's and PhD are required for professionals working in this area, no matter their eventual specialisation. Here are several steps you can follow to become a doctor in Ireland:

1. Research your goals

Studying to become a fully qualified doctor can take several years or more. Researching this role thoroughly can help you to decide whether you want to dedicate a large portion of your life to pursuing this goal. Learn about the tasks you're likely to do as a doctor, the hours you might be working and what your career prospects are. Make sure you're comfortable working in a medical environment. Working as a doctor can mean saving lives and dealing with sick and injured people. It's important to be sure you're comfortable working in an area like this.

Volunteer to work in nursing homes or medical centres. The more experience you have working in this area, the more comfortable you can be when making a decision to pursue this career. Ask any friends and family who work in the health sector for their opinion. You can even ask your general practitioner (GP) for advice during your next visit. Doing your research can help you to decide whether you truly want to work as a doctor and can potentially save you years of time, money and effort if you decide not to.

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2. Do your undergraduate degree

There are two separate ways you can become a doctor in Ireland. The most common way is to complete a bachelor's degree in medicine. Entry standards for these courses are competitive and successful students are also required to pass a Health Professions Admission Test (HPAT) before beginning the course. Students coming directly from their Leaving Certificate year require at least 480-500 points to gain entry to a medicine degree. The HPAT exam tests a candidate's logic, problem-solving and people skills. You don't require any specialist skills or knowledge to pass this exam.

If you already have a level eight degree and graduated with at least a 2.1, then you can apply to do a postgraduate degree in medicine. Your level eight degree can be in any subject, but subjects such as life sciences and medical-related fields can help you in your studies. If you meet this requirement, you're required to apply via the CAO (Central Applications Office) where you will also be expected to have a competitive GAMSAT score. This test is slightly different to the HPAT and you may only apply to sit it once a year. It is developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research to assist selecting students to take part in graduate-entry programmes in Australia, Ireland and the UK.

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3. Complete your intern training

Once you've finished your undergraduate degree, you begin your intern year. An intern year is an essential part of becoming a doctor. It allows you to experience working as a medical professional within a variety of different medical environments. This is the stage of your education where it can be helpful to begin choosing your specialisation. The intern year allows students to develop the skills needed for working in a demanding environment. Skills such as patient care, clinical responsibility and a lifelong ability to learn are essential at this stage.

Once you've successfully completed your intern year, you receive a Certificate of Experience from the Medical Council. This certificate is required for you to continue your training in a specialised field or to join a general section of the Register of Medical Practitioners. This certificate allows you to continue your career in medicine.

4. Pursue specialist training

Once you've received your Certificate of Experience, you can then pursue a specialist field of medicine. There are various programmes and training courses that offer these opportunities throughout the country. The Medical Council oversees all of these training bodies, to make sure the training they provide is up-to-date and accurate. When you finish your specialist training, you receive a certificate of completion, which allows you to pursue a role in the specialist field you want to work in.

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Different specialities

There's a wide range of different specialities you can choose from in the field of medicine. Try to experience as many fields as possible throughout your education and during your intern year. The more experience you gain in these fields, the more effective you can be as a doctor, no matter the field you eventually specialise in. Here are some of the specialities you can choose to pursue during your career as a doctor:

Family physician

A family physician works with children or adult patients with general ailments. If you feel sick, then a family physician is the first doctor you see. A family physician can detect major health concerns, conduct tests and refer patients to specialists. These doctors can work in both private and public practices.

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Internal medicine physician

An internal medicine physician only works with adult patients on matters related to primary care. Their main experience is within a hospital setting, but they can specialise in different areas if they decide to open their own practice.


A paediatrician cares for the medical needs of children. They provide annual checkups, vaccinations and care for minor conditions like a sore throat or the flu. People generally just see one paediatrician for all of their children. These doctors can work both in small rural areas and in urban centres.

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Obstetrician/Gynaecologist (OBGYN)

An OBGYN is a specialist in reproductive and women's health. They care for a women's medical needs during the stages of pregnancy, including assisting while in labour and the delivery of a child. Also, they address women's health concerns such as contraception and infertility.


A surgeon operates on patients to remove damaged organs and harmful tissues. They plan the process of the procedure to ensure its success. The role of the surgeon requires over a decade of experience in medicine before performing surgeries on patients. You can seek additional specialisation as a surgeon, focusing on one part of the human body over others. Some common specialisations include becoming a brain, orthopaedic, vascular or eye surgeon.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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