Do Medical Students Get Paid?

A quick Google search indicates that plenty of people are wondering: do medical students get paid? That’s what I’ll be answering today!

Quick Answer

Medical Students do not get paid on their clinical placements. In fact, they have to pay their medical school £9250 every year in tuition fees in the UK.

What Do Medical Students Do During Clinical Rotations?

Once medical students have completed their first few years of lectures and lab work, they start their clinical placements, where they are based at hospitals, helping doctors treat patients. 

Or at least that’s what people think they do.

Medical students are not part of the healthcare system. They are not qualified to give patients advice or do complex procedures. 

They can, under supervision, do simple procedures like taking blood from a patient or inserting a cannula.

This is not exactly pay-worthy.

They also only spend a few hours a day in the hospital, leaving when they no feel like it.

Out of the whole week, they might spend only 10 hours in a hospital. 

The reason they leave early all the time is that the whole point of a medical students’ clinical placements is to learn, and although there is a huge amount to learn, the doctors and nurse cannot spend all day teaching and explaining everything that comes through the door.

This results in a less than an ideal learning environment. And so, medical students often default to learning from home, trying to revise for the next exam.

Why Don’t Medical Students Get Paid?

As you can see, none of the above-mentioned work that a medical student does is worthy of pay. If a student turns up only 10 hours a week and leaves when they want, it is hardly surprising they don’t get paid.  

However, there is a deeper answer to the question.

Not only do the students not get paid, but it also costs thousands of pounds for medical schools to send each student on placement.

This is because there is usually an assigned consultant (head doctor) for each student. They get an extra pot of money for teaching the students (however, this does tend to be slightly lower than their normal rate).

So as you can see, it would be unrealistic to pay medical students on top of all of this.

Note: The medical schools do not pay consultants directly. They pay NHS trusts, which are organisations that deal with the runnings of hospitals, including medical education and money distribution.

But Don’t Medical Students Have Loads of Stuff to Pay For?

Medical students, just like with all students, find it tricky to balance the financial burden that being a student brings.

These are some of the expenses that medical students may face:

  • Tuition fees (up to £9,250)
  • Rent (higher in big cities like London)
  • Food and electricity
  • Travel
  • Going out

Because of all of these expenses, students can expect to be in about £80,000 worth of debt after 6 years of medical school.

How Do Medical Students Pay for All Their Expenses?

There are many different ways that medical students pay for their living expenses.

Most students get a loan from the Student Loans Company. They give loans of £9250 to pay for tuition fees as well as up to £12,010 of maintenance loans.

This maintenance loan helps cover for rent, food and bills for most students and is given based on household income. The more your parents earn, the less you can receive in loans.

The interest rate for these loans is upwards of 6%, which is simply insane.

That 6% interest rate starts accumulating not from graduation, but from the moment you get the loan. This means that even after your first year of medical school you will be getting 6% interest on your loan.

Other than a loan, students can find jobs.

There can be many jobs available especially in big cities.

Some examples include:

  • Healthcare assistant
  • Receptionist
  • Retail
  • Working for University associations

Getting Paid in Final Year of Medicine (NHS Bursaries)

Although bursaries are not the same as getting paid, it is important to note that medical students do get some money from the NHS/government near the end of their education.

If a medical student is on a 5-year course, their final years’ tuition fees will be paid for (£9250) as well as receiving a £1000 non-repayable grant*. 

If on a 6-year course, the final 2 years are paid for, and they also receive the £1000 grant for both years*.

For a more detailed document which goes into greater depth about the NHS bursary for medical students, see this page.

* Note the £1000 received is the minimum that is received. If household income is low enough, up to £3000 may be received (depending on if you are in London/outside on London/living with parents)

Medical Course Part of Course Eligible for an NHS Bursary
Course Year 1 2 3 4 5 6
5 Year MBBS Not Eligible Not Eligible Not Eligible Not Eligible NHS Bursary
6 Year MBBS Not Eligible Not Eligible Not Eligible Not Eligible NHS Bursary NHS Bursary

Source = NHSBSA Website

How Much Money Do Doctors Make?

So now we know that medical students have it tough and don’t get paid for their placements, but is it all worth it when they finally became a doctor?

Well, it is certainly true that doctors in the UK can make a significant income.

However, to get to that stage where they are earning that amount of money take a lot of time.

Unlike in fields like finance where your starting salary can be upwards of £60,000, doctors in the UK start at £28,000.

By the time they are a consultant, they can be earning £60-70,000 (and once experienced, doctors can even earn £100,000).

The time it takes to get to this level of success is long and arduous.

See the table below for an overview of how much a doctor in the UK can make.

Level Pay (£)
Medical Student 0
FY1 28,243
FY2 32,691
Core Training 38,693 – 49,036
Speciality Training 38,693 – 49,036
Consultants 79,860 – 107,668
GPs 58,808 – 88,744

Source = BMA Website

Note: Minimum salaries of NHS Doctors working in England are shown. Does not include private income.


Medical students do not get paid from clinical placements, as they lack the experience and knowledge to perform complex tasks.

They can take hope from the fact that eventually, after a very long time, they can earn what they always dreamed of earning.

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