How to Reach a Doctor: A Step-by Step Guide

A young person who dreams of becoming a doctor should investigate the profession as much as possible before embarking on this arduous career path.(Getty Images)

There are few professions with higher stakes than the field of medicine. The consequences of a doctor’s decisions can be enormous, leading to either marvelous or disastrous results.

Becoming a physician in the U.S. is a time-consuming endeavor, and anyone who intends to pursue a medical career in this country should expect medical training to last at least seven years beyond college.

Doctors are typically well compensated. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary among U.S. doctors in May 2019 exceeded $200,000.

Here is a list of the rungs on the ladder into the U.S. medical profession.

  1. Explore your options.
  2. Take premed classes and earn good grades.
  3. Participate in meaningful extracurricular activities.
  4. Prep for the MCAT and ace it.
  5. Prepare applications to multiple medical schools.
  6. Impress med school interviewers and get at least one acceptance letter.
  7. Enroll in the right type of medical school for you.
  8. Pass the first two portions of the allopathic or osteopathic national medical licensing exam.
  9. Apply for and match with a residency program.
  10. Graduate from medical school.
  11. Start your residency and get a general medical license.
  12. Achieve board certification within your medical specialty or subspecialty.

United States
In the United States, the first professional medical degree is known as Doctor Of Medicine (MD.) A student must complete a 4 year Undergraduate degree in order to pursue a MD. Upon completing undergraduate studies, the graduate is expected to successfully pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT.) before moving on to the 4 year MD degree. The extensive training and grueling evaluation is expected to prepare students to take on to the nuances and complexities of medicine.

India and United Kingdom

In India and United Kingdom, MD is an advanced academic degree in the field of medical science, similar to a doctorate or a PhD. In India students begin with a MBBS degree. It’s completion denotes the kind of training required to be approved as a licensed physician. A MD degree represents a higher post-graduate degree for specialty training. Only medical graduates with MBBS degrees are only eligible to pursue a MD degree. After successfully completing a 3 year study and the respective exam, both practical and theoretical; that a candidate would be conferred with the MD degree.

What to Expect from Medical School

Medical school typically takes 4 years to complete; then there is a 3 to 7 year residency after that, where students undergo supervised training in their specific field of focus. International students who still feel as though they need additional training or who wish to sub-specialize in a field can also do a fellowship, which gives 1 to 4 more years of training.

The education you will receive is intensive, and will be a full-time activity. You will find that the first year requires a huge amount of memorization, with classes like anatomy, histology, pathology, and biochemistry being likely for your first year. These classes will be classroom and lab based giving you both academic and first-hand knowledge of the human body. For example, a typical gross anatomy class will consist of a one-hour lecture followed by a lab for several hours, where you will be dissecting cadavers or animals to gain first-hand experience of what real bodies look and act like.

How to become a doctor

Developing the skills and knowledge necessary to practice medicine requires a great deal of time and effort, so it is important to research the training process before taking the plunge. The following section outlines how physicians prepare for their careers.

Step 1
Complete an Undergraduate Education
Medical school admissions boards require all applicants to earn bachelor’s degrees from accredited colleges and universities. While there is no specific undergraduate degree recommended for all medical school hopefuls, The College Board lists pre-medicine, biology and exercise science among potential majors.
Step 2
Pass the MCAT Examination
College juniors interested in a career as a doctor should register for and take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The MCAT is a standardized, multiple-choice examination used by medical school admission committees to assess a candidate’s likelihood of succeeding in their program.

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