A career as a doctor is a path of prestige, challenge, and altruism! To become a doctor, you need to study hard, stay focused, and effectively progress through approximately 11 to 15 years of higher education and training. This includes a Bachelor’s degree, four years of medical school, and a 3 to a 7-year residency program. You will be allowed to practice medicine independently after you have completed all of these requirements and become a Board-certified.
Creating the medical school skillset
1.If they satisfy a prerequisite, take Advanced Placement tests. High school students who have demonstrated advanced skills in a subject area are offered AP credits. Bear in mind, however, that Advanced Placement credits that fulfill some of the prerequisites but may not work for others.
- For example, Harvard Medical School will accept AP credits in Chemistry instead of 1 semester of college-level chemistry, but will not accept AP credits instead of the requirements for biology or writing.
2. Earn a 4-year college bachelor’s degree. You have to obtain a Bachelor’s degree before attending medical school. Many medical school students who are bound choose to complete a degree in one of the sciences, such as biology, chemistry, or physics, to ensure that they get all the necessary prerequisites for medical school admission. You can however complete a different degree as long as you complete the necessary precondition courses.
- The mandatory prerequisites may vary from school to school, but typically include 1 year of laboratory biology, 2 years of laboratory chemistry, 1 year of laboratory physics, 1 year of math including calculus and statistics, and 1 year of writing courses.
- Verify that you consult with the universities you apply to assess their prerequisites.
3. Participate in extracurricular activities to build diverse skills and strike a balance between work and life. Apart from the academic capacity for rigorous research, students would require good emotional wellbeing to tackle the human dimension of medicine. That’s why medical schools look at the applications of the students holistically, which means they consider what you’re doing in your free time in addition to your classroom results. To demonstrate that you’ve developed the broad skill set needed to succeed in medical school – and the kind of work-life balance that fosters a healthy workplace temperament – engage in a range of extracurricular activities. Some popular options include:
- Sports, like football, hockey, track, and field, or volleyball
- Language clubs like Clubs in Latin, Russian or Spanish
- Political clubs like College Democrats or Republicans
- Special interest groups, such as student union for women, black student union or student union LGBTQ
4. Volunteer at a local clinic or hospital. Doing volunteer work is another great way to diversify yourself, as well as gaining medical experience. Volunteer a few hours on 1 day a week at the nearest hospital or health center.
- Volunteering in a medical environment may also give you the chance to meet with physicians and speak to them. You can ask them about their path to medicine, how they’ve chosen a specialty, and what advice they have to be a doctor for someone who aspires.
Application to a Medical School
1. Take the MCAT before you submit your submission, by September. Entry into medical school includes the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The most recent exam you can take is in September of the year you plan to submit your applications. Plan accordingly and begin studying at least six months prior to the test.
- You can submit MCAT scores up to 3 years old so you might consider taking the test a few years early. This way, if you’re not doing as well as you wanted, you can retake it.
2. Health schools work to select the right one for you. In terms of their curriculum and entrance standards, medical schools aren’t all alike. Most applicants for medical schools apply to about 16 schools to increase their chances that at least 1 school will admit them. Make a list of schools you are interested in, and compare their programs and needs to help you decide where to apply.
- Using the website of the American Association of Medical Colleges to help you compile the list: it includes a comprehensive list of medical schools along with details of their curriculum offerings, qualifications for acceptance, and tuition costs.
3. Write a 1 to 2-month essay on your medical school application before applying. Medical schools require applicants to write an essay outlining why they wish to pursue a medical career. Give yourself plenty of time to put this essay together. The personal statement essay is your opportunity to show the admissions committee how you will be adding to their program in ways that are not evident elsewhere on your application, such as any obstacles you have overcome that may enhance your ability to be a good doctor.
- Make sure your essay responds to the prompt or question of the essay, and is well-organized and polished.
- Try to ask your college counselor or a trusted professor to read your essay before you submit it. Using their suggestions to review your article, and develop it.
4. Give your application to your chosen Medical Schools. Fill in all relevant fields for the applications you are sending. Make sure to double-check your responses before submitting them to ensure everything is correct. Medical school applications are generally accepted in the fall, around 1 year before you decide to start your program.
- Be mindful that each school may have a different application deadline so you may want to keep a list of the dates.
Completing medical school and training for residency
1. Complete all required coursework and attend medical school. Once you have been accepted to a medical school, register all required courses in the recommended sequence, and complete them. You’ll be assigned a consultant who can help you work through this process. Make sure you ask them questions if you’re not sure how to make progress through the program.
- Many classes will be required as part of the core program, but you may be able to take special seminars on topics that interest you.
2. During the final year of the medical school describe your specialty. At the beginning of the last medical school year, you will be choosing a specialty based on your preferences, curriculum success, and professional objectives. This will decide when you are finishing your internship, and what you are interested in as a doctor.
- For example, if you’re interested in cardiology then as a cardiologist you might be pursuing a specialty.
- If you were most interested in neurology in your studies then it might be the best option for you to become a neurologist.
3. Go through a residency program of 3 to 7 years. You’ll be assigned to a residency program in your chosen specialty at the end of your last year of medical school, usually in March. Many of these services are by hospital training, which would give you a mix of a real medical environment and physicians who also teach.
- For example, if you want to specialize in cardiology, you’d most of the time be assigned to train and work in a hospital’s cardiology wing. You would also participate in medical rotations in other departments, such as primary care or radiology, to help build your skills.
Obtaining Certification as a Doctor
1. Complete your specialization board qualification. You’ll need to obtain your board certification once you’ve completed your residency. Board certification requires that you take an examination that shows your ability in your specialty. It will encourage you to practice medicine in a specific state or area, identify you as an expert in your field, and instill faith in your patients.
- For example, if you want to be a board-certified in dermatology, then you’d need to take the appropriate examination.
- Some specialties require you to work for one year and accumulate a case log before sitting for the full board examination. Be sure to test that that is what your specialty needs. If so, you’ll need to work a year at a hospital or private practice before you’re fully certified as a board member. You would be “board-eligible” for this time between your residency and your qualification, as opposed to a board-approved.
- If you are eligible to do so, you can be certified on board in more than 1 region.
2. Using your medical degree to find a career. After you have completed your medical degree, completed your residency, and become eligible for the board, you can start practicing as a doctor in the specialty you have selected. Doctors have a great many chances to work. You can go with a more traditional setting, like a hospital or a doctor’s office, or opt for military work, a prison, or do medical research.
- Check online for positions and apply directly to the organizations for which you wish to work.
3. Continue to build knowledge and expertise all along with your career. When you’re a doctor, learning never stops! It is critical that you remain up-to-date on medical developments in your field after you finish medical school. To do so, you’ll need to read medical journals of your chosen specialty, attend conferences, and conduct lectures on continuing education.
- Because new discoveries, treatments, and techniques are constantly being developed, it is important to keep up to date on medical advances for every medical field.
4. Start your own practical medicine. It can be extremely rewarding to start a medical practice, and it can turn out to be a great career move for you. However, you’ll have much more to handle when you start a practice than you would if you went to work with someone else. Achieve funding for your practice, for example by getting a loan from a small company, then set up your practice.
- Make sure that your costs are kept low to ensure your practice is profitable.