The 7 Steps To Becoming A Doctor: A Complete Guide
Medicine is one of the most challenging yet rewarding fields a student can enter. But before you decide whether becoming a doctor is right for you, it’s important that you know every step you’ll have to take along the way.
Here, I’ll walk you through exactly how to become a doctor, starting with high school. This career is definitely not for everyoneit requires huge investments of time, money, and effortbut if this path is right for you, this guide is what you should read to start preparing yourself early for a successful career as a doctor.
Perelman School Of Medicine University Of Pennsylvania
Ranked third in the Best Medical Schools and fourth in the Worlds Innovative Universities lists in 2019, the University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university that was founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin. It is the nations oldest medical school, and a highly reputable authority in medical education.
Emily Kramer-Golinkoff is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania. She is best known for being the founder of Emilys Entourage, a nonprofit organization that raises money to develop a cure for rare mutations of Cystic Fibrosis. Kramer-Golinkoff was acknowledged by the White House as a Champion of Change. The government honored her efforts in harnessing patient data to improving their health.
In The Ring: Residency 3+ Years
Your residency training in the hospital is for your specialty. Because you have passed the tests and earned your license for becoming a doctor, more hands-on training is required before you can officially become autonomous and take responsibility for the patient. Here is where youre finally able to do what youve been dreaming of.
In the first year of residency you are considered an intern. The rest of the years up to 6 you are referred to as the resident. Its also the years when you finally start getting paid.
This step attempts to break down whats left of your body, and demands hours of focus despite the time, the temperature, and even your ability. It murderously kills the crumbs that are left of your stamina, and tests it up until where the stress would crush you. Youll get the worst hours there are, and maybe endure abusive treatment from the attending physician. All you can do at that point is suck it up, focus on the patient, and keep pushing for the final goal. Youll remember that once you open up your private practice, it cant get any worse. It will help your survival through this brutish end-of-training marathon. Residency is standing in the midst of chaos horrifying for most people, but beautiful for you.
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What Are Your Job Prospects As A Doctor
According to the BLS, there were 713,800 doctor and surgeon jobs in the United States in 2016. The number of physician positions is growing faster than the average while job numbers in the USA are projected to grow by seven percent between 2016 and 2026, jobs for doctors and surgeons are expected to grow by 13 percent during the same period. While competition is high for the best medical doctor jobs, 91,400 new job openings will open during the 10 years between 2016 and 2026.
Youll Grow And Strengthen Meaningful Relationships
Even the most career-oriented person is bound to make lifelong friends in medical school and residency. Theres something about the shared experience of studying for licensing exams, completing clinical rotations, and going through residency that encourages students to form meaningful connections. I matched with an awesome group of people, Dr. Kaminski says. Theyre all coming from very different places, but we all have the same goals and similar values. Some medical specialties are very competitive, requiring extensive planning and superior performance throughout the first two years of medical school, Dr. Beddingfield explains. The rat race doesn’t stop with acceptance to med school!
For SGU students, the unique campus experience in Grenada helps to further deepen relationships among classmates. Dr. Madedor loved everything from the food to the culture on the island. Im hoping to go back to Grenada sometime in the future with my friends because its an amazing place, he reflects.
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Fellowship: One Or Two Years
Fellowships are optional . But if you decide to get more training on a subspecialty area of clinical practice, education, or research, you might consider a medical fellowship.
To apply to a fellowship of your choosing, you must have completed a residency in the specialty you want to focus on and demonstrate significant clinical skills and experience in that area.
Check out how long it takes to become a doctor in the US and Canada:
When To Start Career Research
The high school years are the perfect time to begin exploring your interests and preparing your background. Take advantage of the resources available at your school and in your local community to begin your preparation for a medical career.
Why is it important to start early if you want to become a doctor? First, you will need to attend a college that will prepare you for medical school. This means a competitive college or university that offers the science classes you will need for acceptance into medical school. You will need to take the appropriate classes in high school to increase your chances of being accepted at the undergraduate institution of your choice.
In addition to your coursework, undergraduate admissions and medical school admissions will consider your extracurricular activities. The more relevant experience you have, the stronger a candidate you will be. That experience will also help you figure out if you are sure that you are interested in a medical career because you will be exposed to what it’s really like to be a doctor.
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Friends And Family Might Start To Come To You For Advice
One of the most noticeable shifts that occurs once youre beginning life as a doctor is that loved ones will likely come to you for medical advice. Family members who never before thought to ask your opinion on whether they should seek treatment for something could now find your perspective to be invaluable. You definitely take on more of an educator role in a way because they now view you as an expert in the field, Dr. Kaminski says.
Time For Medical School Requirements And To Go To Medical School
For some, going to medical school and becoming a doctor is a serious goal. They complete their medical school requirements, find the right program, go through the medical school admissions process, and lose themselves in their studies for the love of the profession.
Others may just be intrigued by the reaction they get when they say Im going to become a doctor, and then find themselves traveling down a bumpy road to a wrong destination. In their cases, completing the requirements for medical school admission might be just a waste of time.
Whether youre really serious about medical school, or just toying with the idea, it may help you decide if its really what you want when you understand what youre actually facing in terms of commitment.
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When Do Doctors Specialize
During the first two years of medical school, students do preclinical training and are advised to keep an open mind toward different specialties. In the same way that undergraduates have the freedom to change their major early in their college career, medical students are not locked into their specialty right away.
Usually, at the beginning of the third year of medical school, students start clinical rotations. This is when students shadow physicians and residents, interact with patients, and see the applications of their coursework. You can choose to clerk for doctors in different areas, such as general surgery, gynecology, internal medicine, or orthopedics. Some people also view clinical rotations as networking opportunities and informal interviews.
Clinical rotations exert a major influence on the specialties chosen by medical students. Sometimes they reinforce the long-standing desires of students, and other times they expose students to new and interesting paths. When doing rotations, it is important to think about what you want out of your future job. Some factors that influence a doctors specialty choice include:
What Educational Path Do You Take If You Want To Become A Doctor
Hopefully by now, youâve taken senior high school STEM classes or enrolled in the STEM strand. Your next step is choosing a pre-med course for your college degree. After pre-med youâll have to review for and pass the National Medical Admission Test to enter a school of medicine. And after med school, itâs time to go for it, doctor!
But letâs take it one step at a time.
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Complete Your Undergraduate Degree Program
Four-year undergraduate education is the precursor to going to medical school. Even though you don’t need to have a specific major to be eligible for medical school, a lot of aspiring doctors major in biology or chemistry. Other applicable degrees include pre-med, psychology, nursing, medical technology or exercise science. Some of these undergraduate courses include subjects like anatomy, physics, biological studies and human genetics. Be sure to check the undergraduate degree programs each school offers so you can select the right major and make a relevant choice to put you on the path to becoming a doctor.
During this time, you can also network with doctors operating in your area by scheduling an informational interview or a job shadowing opportunity, which can give you full exposure to the daily responsibilities of a doctor. It provides you the chance to ask key questions about the career path they took and get personalized tips about your education and professional career.
So How Long Does It Take To Become A Doctor
In summary, if you want to become a doctor in the US, you must first complete a four-year undergraduate program, then attend medical school for four years. After graduating, you match to a residency via ERAS or CaRMS , where you spend somewhere between three to seven years as a resident, depending on your specialty. After all this, you need to take a licensing exam for the state or province where you want to practice medicine.
That is between 10 and 14 years to become a licensed doctor. Now, lets see if its possible to shorten this timeline.
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Least Competitive Medical Specialties
Competitiveness is often rated an important factor for students deciding their specialty. Using the average United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 scores and the average number of abstracts, publications, and presentations of first-year residents by specialty in 2019-20, weve created a list of least competitive specialties.
Average Step 1 Score: 230.4
Average Number of Publications: 4.5
Internal medicine exclusively focuses on adults and adult health conditions. Physicians prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases and conditions that affect any part of the adult body. They are involved with health maintenance, disease screening, and often make referrals to other specialists.
While Emergency Medicine would be rated as one of the easier medical specialties based on the USMLE Step 1 and publication number, the supply of EM residents is greater than the demand, making it harder to be an Emergency Medicine Physician than other specialties.
If you are interested in any of these specialties, or any others, check out CollegeVines comprehensive review of medical specialties, which includes median salaries.
Rematch: Fellowship 1 Or 2 Years
After completing residency, a doctor, which is what youll be at this point, may finally choose to begin his/her practice. Other doctors who are in no rush might want to expand their education and skills. Those will become a Fellow and get additional training in a sub-specialty.
For example, a pediatric urologists process: Dr John Doe, Pediatric Urologist
How he got his title
After graduating med school, he got the Dr added to his name.
Five years of residency gave him his urologist title.
Completing a year of fellowship earned him his pediatric extension.
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The Long And Winding Road
The fact is, the road to becoming a doctor takes 11 to 16 years , and youll be at least thirty before youre ready to start your own practice. Youll need to complete four to five years of pre-med preparation, another four years of medical school, and three to seven years of residency. It doesnt end there, though. As long as youre practicing, you must continue to learn long after med school is over to stay abreast of current research, new trends, and breakthrough treatments and medications.
Choose Your Specialty Area
After medical school, internship and residency are the next hurdles you need to complete from three to eight years , depending on your choice of medical specialization.
Specialty areas commonly chosen by medical graduates are:
- Emergency medicine provides emergency care for patients who need urgent medical decisions and procedures prevents imminent death or disability
- Family practice renders total health care services to families and provides diagnosis, treatment, referral, and management of various diseases also has a significant role in preventative medicine
- Internal medicine provides comprehensive care and health management for patients of various ages, male or female can possibly lead to sub-specialization in specific body organ
- Obstetrics-Gynecology provides medical care in various aspects in women of all ages
- Orthopedic surgeon specializes in the restoration and care of patients musculoskeletal form and function
- Pediatrics provides preventive, treatment, and management of health in children
- Psychiatry provides diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders
- Surgery specializes in surgical procedures and provides preoperative, operative, and post-operative care
Different Types Of Physicians In The Us
Medicine is one of the most awesome paths to choose as a career goal. Youve probably been dreaming of becoming a doctor since early childhood.
If your wise, youll start taking steps early on to become a doctor after high school.
After certification, you can choose between becoming a general practice doctor or a specialized doctor. As a general MD, you will deal with your patients overall health. Specialized doctors focus on specific fields of study, such as neurology, orthopedics, cardiology, or pediatrics.
Different types of physicians perform different roles. Some of the general roles of doctors include:
- Conducting tests
- Providing healthy living advice
- Treating injuries and sicknesses
For you to become a doctor after high school, you need to go through thorough education and training. This includes going to college after high school graduation. You must also participate in relevant extracurricular activities to show your intent to get accepted into medical school when the time comes.
There are various pre-med programs and summer camps that help high school students who want to become doctors. Find local events for teens and do your best to stay up-to-date on industry news.
Find A Family Doctor Or Nurse Practitioner
A family doctor or nurse practitioner is your primary health care provider meaning they are the person you make an appointment with when you have a new, non-emergency health concern. You can learn more about their services below.
Visits to a doctor or nurse practitioner are publicly funded meaning you dont have to pay.
Here are two options to find a family doctor or nurse practitioner who is accepting new patients:
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The Winner: Ready For Practice
Medicine is a practice. It is not something you can study for and then just move on. Even after graduation, physicians have to be re-certified every few years. Keep on practicing and using your experiences to become a better physician.
So technically, yes, becoming a doctor takes eleven years. But during the first few years, you are already getting to do what you have always wanted to. Its the journey itself that makes it so rewarding. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates it is also financially rewarding. The Bureau reports that as of 2017, you could earn up to $200,000 annually. The profession itself is also growing at a rate of 13%, which is faster than average.
Then, once the white coat is on, your back has never been straighter because you have earned the greatest honor.
Once you are a doctor, you may want to learn how to be a surgeon.
Get Some Medical Experience On Your Rsum
Job shadow with doctors and other medical professionals. Admissions committees don’t expect applicants to have real experience actually treating patients. After all, you’re not a doctor yet. But they do want to know that you’ve spent time getting to know what your future job would be like. Job shadowing is a great way to get some medical experience but there are other non-shadowing opportunities that may be available to you.
“Med school admissions committees want students to have realistic expectations for what a career in medicine will be like. says Dr. Sarah Carlson, a vascular surgery resident at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, who has also served on a medical school admissions committee. As an undergraduate, she volunteered to file x-rays at the local hospital, then parlayed that into an opportunity to talk with the radiologist. He explained both how to read x-ray films, and why he chose his profession. “It’s those types of interactions that are important to have under your belt,” she says. “Quite frankly, medicine isn’t for everyone, so it’s best if you do some soul-searching and spend some time with the people who have the job you want. Most doctors are happy to sit down with students who are considering a career in medicine.”
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