Guide to Becoming a Doctor in America

July 2, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Becoming a doctor is one of the most prestigious and fulfilling career choices in America, just as it is anywhere else in the world. As a doctor you could work in a hospital, clinic or private practice, examining patients, diagnosing ailments and offering treatment strategies. Preparing for this career generally takes on average eleven years, of which 4 years will be spent in undergraduate studies, followed by 4 years in a medical program and then 3 years in a residency.

While general practitioners assess the overall health of patients, specialists deal with areas such as cardiology, orthopedics, pediatrics or neurology.

Preparing for Shadowing in SurgeryThere are some basic steps to becoming a doctor:

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Prospective doctors do not need to pursue a specific major before enrolling in medical school. However, it is necessary for you to take a few specific science as well as science-related courses. Majors such as biology, chemistry and physics are the preferred choice. A few medical colleges and universities also offer a pre-medicine track, which includes courses in physiology and anatomy.


Work At A Medical Facility

Medical school admissions are extremely competitive and it is important for applicants to seek every possible advantage. Though getting a strong grade point average can play a huge role, it is a definite plus if you have volunteered at a local medical facility or health clinic. The medical application has an “extracurricular activities” section and you can mention this on that list.


Letters Of Recommendation

Some medical schools require a letter of recommendation, whereas in other schools it is optional. It can be to your advantage to acquire these irrespective of whether they are a prerequisite or not, and for this it is critical that you should build strong relationships with your professors at the pre-med track stage. This can help you get a few good letters of recommendation.


Take the MCAT

You will have to take a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to apply to medical school. This multiple-choice exam covers areas such as problem-solving, critical thinking, scientific principles as well as writing. In order to get accepted in a medical school, it is very important to perform well on this exam.


Enroll in Medical School

A Doctor of Medicine (MD) program spans four years and is a combination of academic coursework and clinical training. In the first two years, medical students study topics such as medical laws and ethics, anatomy, microbiology and physiology. In the last two years, students participate in various clinical rotations, under doctors’ supervision.

Gap Medics students on placement


Medical students have to opt for internships that focus on a specialty. This gets them into a residency program which is generally completed over the summer between your 3rd and 4th years.

After you graduate, you can enter into a residency program in which you will get on-the-job training at a hospital, for which you will receive remuneration in addition to the training. It can last 3-7 years, depending on the specialization.

Doctors are required to obtain medical licensure in order to practice in medical facilities, and hospitals and have to pass the USMLE or United States Medical Licensing Exam. Doctors can also move on to earning specialty certification from an accredited organization. There’s no doubt the path to becoming a doctor is long and hard, but in the end, there is not greater satisfaction as you help those in need as a full-fledged doctor.