The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Doctor
Although becoming a doctor could be a challenging task for many people, it is definitely a fulfilling and rewarding mission.
However, if your ultimate dream is to be a good doctor and help people, your career path might involve a lot of challenges such as competitive tests, stressful lab times, and required hands-on experiences
To help you have an easier track to the future, we’ll show you the ultimate guide to becoming a doctor.
1. Prepare in high school
To be accepted into best colleges as well as medical schools, the first important thing is to have excellent grades in your high school.
Ideally, you should pay more attention to math and science classes as they are the foundation for your major in the future.
Start thinking about which type of doctor you might want to become in the future and make some basic plans for that.
By doing this, you can know which is necessary to prepare for your next journey to be a licensed.
Lastly, it is really important to get a high score on the SAT or ACT because this is one of the requirements, along with volunteer experience and excellent grades, to get into your dream college.
2. Go to college
The next important step is to choose a college which can give you a good foundation for medical school in the future.
In general, there are a variety of features to take into consideration, including size, academic reputation, distance, cost, location, and academic program.
As doctors can come from many backgrounds, you can have many options to choose for your college years.
However, it is still better to select a program with a helpful curriculum which can help you later in medical school.
These majors include biology, math, and science.
In addition, consider those institutions which are affiliated with some medical schools or have a reputable pre-med program.
During your the sophomore and junior year, keep in mind to get a high score in your MCAT test.
3. Go to a medical school
In general, there are many types of medical school that you can choose.
For example, allopathic schools for a traditional Doctor of Medicine degree, osteopathic schools for general surgeons or practitioners, pharmaceutical schools for a D.P, naturopathic schools for herbs and foods suggestion, and homeopathic schools.
During the junior year in college, you should send in your applications, which include letters of recommendation, transcripts, motivation letters, and fees.
There will be an interview conducted by the medical schools to ensure that you have the commitment to your interests and goals to be a doctor.
This interview will ask you everything, from your opinions about a healthcare reform to volunteer experiences.
For the first 2 years in medical schools, you will learn the basics of the medical science via many core subjects such as microbiology, pharmacology, pathology, biochemistry, histology, physiology, and anatomy.
In the third year, you will receive training including one to two months of each major subjects (general surgery, internal medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics, psychiatry, surgery), as well as work with many patients under the supervisions of licensed physicians in clinics and hospitals to learn rehabilitative, preventive, chronic, and acute care.
During the fourth year, it is important to take electives based-on preferred specialty and apply for a residency program.
Medical school can take a little bit longer when you dream of getting a Ph.D. in a related area in the future.
4. Become a licensed doctor
Before ending your medical school education, you should make the final decision on your specialty to apply for the residency or internship program.
Different specialties will require the different amount of time to follow a residency and get the necessary accreditation and experience.
The reference for the duration in residency is as follows:
- 3 years internal medicine, pediatrics
- 3 to 4 years: emergency doctor
- 4 years: dermatology, neurology, gynecology and obstetrics, pathology, psychiatry, general surgery
- 4 to 5 years: anesthesiology
- 5 years: radiology
Once you have graduated from the medical school, it is time to flook for a residency program at a particular hospital.
In most cases, the best way to get a quick result is to contact a teaching hospital that you are interested in and might have a residency position available.
As the reference mentioned above, you should expect to spend from 3 to 5 years in a residency position, depending on the specialty.
During the first stage, you will work as an intern to train in your chosen specialty.
More specifically, you will take responsibilities for many patients and might be supervised by attending physicians as well as senior residents.
Some specialties such as dermatology or ophthalmology might require 1 year of general surgery or general medicine right after the medical school, which is also known as a “prelim” period before you start your residency position in the chosen field.
This process might happen at another hospital in which you take the remaining of the training.
At some stages during the residency training, you have to pass the COMLEX Step 3 or USMLE Level 3 to be certified by the state to practice medicine.
In general, COMPLEX Step 3 and USMLE Level 3 cover basic knowledge in clinical management as well as clinical thinking.
During your residency training, it is a good idea to take a fellowship training or sub-specialty training, which might take additional years to finish.
A fellowship program is basically an optional training that is beyond the residency to help you become more specialized in another field.
For instance, you might choose general external medicine as the main specialty for your residency program, and then take a fellowship in gastroenterology or cardiology.
A fellowship program typically takes from one to three years to complete.
Once you are doing with a residency program, you have the freedom to take the final board, where you would become a licensed doctor.
In addition, medical doctors can choose to get a certification in their interested specialty from another accredited institution.
Earning these certifications would demonstrate the skills and knowledge of a candidate in a particular medical specialty like ophthalmology, neurological surgery, dermatology, and immunology.
Congratulations! Now you are a doctor!