Earning a position as a licensed, accredited, knowledgeable, competent physician is extremely difficult. Doctor hopefuls must pass through several stages of applications, school work, résumé building, clinical experience, and ever-rigorous schooling. Fortunately, the career path to being a doctor is relatively clear cut, despite it taking so long. Included are the necessary steps to becoming a licensed physician in the increasingly demanding medical school environment.
Bachelor’s degree and science courses
The first, impassable step to becoming a doctor is earning a bachelor’s degree. Such degrees can be of any major for most every medical school. However, nearly every medical school requires meeting certain prerequisites, including one year of biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, anatomy & physiology, physics, English, calculus, among others. These courses are among the most widely required, although future medical school applicants should check with all state schools and those universities whose programs they may potentially be interested in.
Medical College Admissions Test
Before graduating, start studying for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). This eight-hour examination effectively gauges the potential performance of medical school applicants. The MCAT is required by every medical school in the United States, which measures critical reasoning, problem-solving, and how much hopeful physicians know about biology, chemistry, and social sciences from their studies.
In order to become a doctor, future physicians must complete either a licensed Doctor of Medicine degree program or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program. Both of these are shortened to MD and DO degrees, respectively, and are relatively equal in caliber. The main difference between these two programs is that Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine programs train their students to consider all bodily functions work together in healing one another.
Medical schools take four years at minimum to complete and have rigorous, selective applications. Interested applicants must submit transcripts from every school attended, any institutional actions taken against students, essays to explain why they should be admitted, and interviews to gauge the presence and intentions of applicants.
Upon completion of MD or DO school, aspiring doctors must complete residency programs. These last between three and seven years. Shorter residencies are for emergency, family, and internal medicine or pediatrics. Those who wish to become surgeons must complete residency programs that last at least five years, ranging up to seven years at longest.
Most medical schools match their graduates up with residency programs, although the likelihood of successful matching depends on the reputation of particular medical schools. Medical schools that are more difficult to gain acceptance to will undoubtedly bring higher chances of residency training matching. Hopefuls who want to undergo residency in particular practices may have their choice of practice, although matching in any residency regardless of how well liked they are is better than not matching up with residencies.
United States Medical Licensing Examination
The USMLE, or United States Medical Licensing Examination, is necessary for all aspiring medical professionals. This difficult exam is staged in four steps that must be performed chronologically in two stages. Steps 1, 2 CK, and 2 CS are taken directly before Step 3. Step 3 must be taken after Steps 1, 2 CK and 2 CS, although these three steps can be taken in any order.
In order to take the USMLE, candidates must either be: enrolled in medical school towards earning an MD or DO degree in the USA or Canada, which must be accredited by the LCME and AOA, respectively; a graduate of an accredited MD or DO school; or enrolled in or a graduate of a medical school outside of the USA or Canada listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools or meeting ECFMG requirements.
As detailed, landing a job as a physician is incredibly difficult. Around sixty percent of applications went unaccepted in the 2014 admissions cycle across schools in the United States. By following the steps above closely and boosting your application’s appeal every chance possible, you just might become a doctor.