Can you Become A Doctor After Being A Physiotherapist?

Breeze Academy August 25, 2022
Stethoscope on top of medical papers

Physiotherapists already have a lot of the necessary personal skills and behaviours to become a Doctor or other medical professional. However there are limitations for Physiotherapists in relation to diagnosis and prescribing medicines which can lead to them wanting to expand outside of their speciality so they can offer new treatments to their patients. In this blog, we discuss the requirements of becoming a Doctor for Physiotherapists.

So can you become a Doctor after being a Physiotherapist? To become a Doctor after being a Physiotherapist, you must undertake additional training. In the UK, this involves 4-7 years of medical school. There are alternative routes to expand your knowledge including CPD or an Advanced Clinical Practitioner course, however these alone are not a direct route to becoming a Doctor.

Read on to find out the requirements to become a Doctor after being a Physiotherapist.

How Do You Become a Doctor After Being a Physiotherapist?

If you want to switch healthcare disciplines, the training required depends on your experience and qualifications. This has recently been made easier by the government via more flexible training opportunities as they recognise the potential of individuals working in the industry and want to help them achieve their career goals. However to become a fully qualified Doctor in the UK, you are still required to complete 4-7 years in medical school. 

A medical degree typically takes 5 years to complete. One topic commonly covered during the course is Health behaviours, musculoskeletal, respiratory and digestive systems, some of which you may already be familiar with as a Physiotherapist. Medical degree courses are usually assessed via various practical activities such as anatomy practice and simulation exercises, along with online or written assessments. Completing this course can also lead to other healthcare roles such as researchers, genetic scientists and lecturers.  

What Alternative Training Routes Are Available?

A new system has been introduced that means healthcare professionals have an easier path to changing their dedicated area. This new system allows Physiotherapists to complete training based on their experience and qualifications. It also creates wider opportunities for people who may not have as much time for training as they can fit it around their other responsibilities.

If you don’t want to become a Doctor, but would still like to expand your skills and knowledge of the healthcare industry, these are some of the available options:

Advanced Clinical Practitioner

The NHS has introduced a level of practice to allow health care professionals such as Physiotherapists to expand their scope of practice. This is available for professionals who are educated at a master’s level or equivalent. Apprenticeships are available for Physiotherapists to help develop their career and provide more specialised support to match their client’s needs. An ACP qualification can lead a Physiotherapist to becoming a First Contact Practitioner, a health care professional who can treat patients without needing a referral from a GP.


CPD is a vital part of Physiotherapist’s training and development to maintain their current skills and gain new knowledge. The benefits include having improved awareness of the healthcare industry, opportunities to network with people in the same industry and learn from them and improved credibility as a practitioner. For more information about CPD for Physiotherapists, check our in depth guide. Physiotherapists are required to undertake 30 hours worth of CPD per year and provide a record for the Health and Care Professions Council. 

We have a large range of CPD courses available for Physiotherapists that enable you to take your practice to the next level, and allow you to  provide a larger range of treatments for your patients. Breeze Academy offers courses in Acupuncture and Dry Needling, Yoga, Sports Massage and Strength & Conditioning. Take a look online today to learn more. 

What Relevant Qualifications Do Physiotherapists Have?

Physiotherapists require a minimum qualification of an undergraduate degree in the UK. An undergraduate degree in Physiotherapy can take 3-6 years to complete and includes some aspects of practical learning. Some Physiotherapists may decide to continue their learning and development with higher education. This could be a 2 year master’s degree or a degree apprenticeship where they work a minimum of 30 hours per week in a working environment.

After completing their studies, a student must then register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) so they can begin legally practising Physiotherapy. CPD should be completed during the 2 year renewal period to prove they are developing their skills and are still fit to practice. The higher the level of education a Physiotherapist has, the higher the salary band they are in.

For a more in depth guide into the qualifications required to become a licensed Physiotherapist in the UK, read our recent blog.

What Additional Qualifications Do Physiotherapists Need to Become a Doctor?

To become a Doctor in the UK, you are required to complete a medical degree, regardless of your Physiotherapy experience and qualifications. As mentioned above, there are also alternative training routes available to expand your skills and knowledge within the industry such as CPD courses. However these are not enough to become a fully fledged Doctor. 

What Relevant Personal Skills Do Physiotherapists Have?

Physiotherapists are experts in their field and require the basic personal skills that many other medical professions, such as a Doctor would benefit from. These include:

  • Good communication skills:
  • Need to be fine with close physical contact, and not be “squeamish”
  • Need to be able to work under pressure
  • Good time management and organisational skills
  • Good teamworking skills
  • Good problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • Good observational skills
  • Good personal health and fitness

The above skills are all ideal for individuals intending to become Doctors as they deal with members of the general public everyday. Their daily tasks also involve talking to other members of the healthcare team, including people of both higher and lower authority. Doctors must be able to communicate effectively and adapt their methods for different types of people. 

Can Physiotherapists Diagnose Problems and Prescribe Medicine?

Physiotherapists can only prescribe medicine to their clients with additional training, however there are only a limited number of relevant medicines they can prescribe.  They also have the ability to refer clients for scans and blood tests, again with additional training required. For private practices, they can privately refer clients for these services. Although unlikely to refer directly to the NHS, they may provide clients with a letter to their GP explaining the reason behind the tests. 

Physiotherapists can diagnose but only for diseases and disorders related to the musculoskeletal system. If they feel that Physiotherapy is not the best option for the problem, they may refer their clients to a different medical professional for further investigation. This is especially prominent where an underlying issue may be causing the problem. Physiotherapists can prescribe exercise to their clients, an essential part of their recovery or management plan. 

With the completion of a medical degree however, Physiotherapists can gain the knowledge and skills needed to properly diagnose and prescribe medicine to patients.

Final Thoughts

Completing a medical degree is the only way to become a Doctor in the UK, regardless of any other qualifications and experience a Physiotherapist may have. This can be a big commitment for some people, but there are other alternatives out there to help advance your knowledge, skills and practice offerings. CPD is a great option which is already a requirement for Physiotherapists to continue their practice. 

At Breeze Academy, we are passionate about developing Physiotherapists so they can expand their skills and knowledge. With courses in Acupuncture and Dry Needling, Yoga, Sports Massage and Strength & Conditioning, we provide the complete package to fulfil your required 30 hours.

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