How to Become a Doctor

How to become a doctor?

The path to becoming a doctor involves extensive education. An undergraduate degree is required for medical school admission. Although a pre-med degree is a solid foundation to begin medical school—biology, psychology, or chemistry are also acceptable undergraduate degrees to start on the road to becoming a doctor.

In addition to an undergraduate degree, those wishing to become a doctor will be required to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which is used in a similar fashion to the SAT to evaluate applicants. Admission to medical school is very competitive.

Once accepted to medical school, both classroom and clinical education occur, in which various aspects of medicine are taught, such as psychology, internal medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, or obstetrics.

Upon completion of medical school, students officially become doctors, but must still pass a board test and complete a residency in their desired field. Exams to ensure doctors are equipped to safely practice medicine must be taken and passed before being allowed to become practicing doctors. Each state has licensing requirements that vary state by state. In general, you must pay a fee, provide documentation of your graduation including exam scores and references. Completion of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is required by all states.

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How long does it take to become a doctor?

The length of time required to become a doctor depends on the field, but, completing undergraduate and medical school will take about eight years of full-time course and clinical work, followed by at least three years in a residency program. If a doctor wishes to pursue a specialty medical field, for example, neurosurgery, additional years of education and training in that specialization will be required.

To become a family practitioner or internal medicine doctor, roughly 11 years of secondary education is required.

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What does a doctor do?

A doctor’s role is diverse and depends on their specialty. A physician of internal medicine, or internist, for example, examines adult patients and makes a diagnosis to ensure proper injury care and disease prevention, treatment, and recovery. These doctors also request tests, follow-up visits, and refer their patients to specialists, as necessary. This role requires an MD degree from an accredited school and a valid state license to practice.

A physician at a family practice examines and treats members of a family, regardless of age or sex. Like an internal medicine doctor, a family medical practitioner ensures a proper diagnosis, injury care, disease prevention, treatment, and recovery. They also prescribe and administer medications, perform routine vaccinations, and provide guidance and advice regarding personal health.

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What skills do you need to become a doctor?

Doctors must be able to work under pressure, often for long hours at a time. Additionally, a doctor must have strong interpersonal skills and the ability to make quick, logical decisions. Communication with colleagues, patients, and families is crucial to ensure accurate and effective disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

Diagnosis and treatment planning are often a part of a doctor’s day-to-day responsibilities, and the ability to utilize a variety of technologies and tools are helpful.

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How much does a doctor make?

Salary range for a Doctor
$110,260 to $437,478

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Best Tips for Those Who Want to Become a Doctor:

1. Realize what you’re signing up for

As a pre-med student, you’ll first and foremost be a student. You’ll be expected to complete tough courses in math, chemistry, physics, biology, and English, among others. The course load can be daunting and time-consuming, but it is doable.

In addition to school, you’ll participate in diverse and interesting extracurricular activities to gain exposure to medicine and related fields. Research, volunteering, part-time work, and shadowing are common premed extracurriculars.

Being a pre-med is time-consuming, but you should still have some time to spend with friends and family and on hobbies. Just be prepared to sometimes make sacrifices, when your friend has free time and you’re busy working on something outside of class.

2. Take Advanced Placement tests if they will satisfy a prerequisite.

AP credits are offered to high school students who have demonstrated advanced competency in a subject area. However, keep in mind that Advanced Placement credits may satisfy some of the prerequisite requirements, but they may not work for others

For example, Harvard Medical School will accept AP credits in Chemistry in place of 1 semester of college-level chemistry, but they will not accept AP credits in place of the biology or writing requirements.

3. Surviving Med School

Once the med school application and interview process is over with, it’s time for your first year of med school. In orientation, you will be advised on how grueling med school is. The volume of information you will need to absorb each year is equivalent to getting two Master’s degrees – yes, it’s that difficult.

However, as stated in the first tip, if you are motivated and passionate about becoming a doctor, then all the hard work won’t be as intense. Additionally, the level of coursework is not the problem in med school. Instead, it’s the amount of memorization.

4. Get Some Research Experience

Having research experience under your belt is a big plus for med school applications, especially if you can squeeze in a publication or two. Working in a biology or chemistry lab would probably be most helpful for medical school.

There are a couple ways you can get research experience as an undergraduate:

Work as a research assistant (paid or unpaid) in an on-campus lab or an off-campus research institute. Look at campus job postings, or approach specific professors in your department about potential lab openings. If you don’t have time during the semester to take on extra work, consider summer opportunities.

Complete an undergraduate thesis, which involves research work. This usually requires a professor to officially take you on as his/her student. Each school (and each department within a school) will have its own procedures and policies for undergraduate theses, so educate yourself early on (i.e. freshman year) if you’re interested in this track.

5. The Best Doctors Take Care of Themselves

You’ve probably had the take-care-of-yourself mantra preached to you from the first day of medical school, but it bears repeating all the same. Think of self-care as preventive care: Doctors who maintain personal well-being are less prone to burnout, compassion fatigue, and other problems that often cause poor performance and less-than-stellar professional decision-making.

As someone who has been trained to make people better, putting your own health in front of other’s well-being may run against every instinct you have. But don’t be afraid to say no, even if you’re afraid it will make you look like a jerk. Take a personal day to sleep in, get a massage, and treat yourself instead of catching up on errands and chores. Maybe take up the drums or join a running club. Finally, consider a career in locum tenens, where you can make your own hours.

Do whatever makes you happy, because a happy physician is a physician who cares enough to perform well.

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What’s the Lifestyle of Being a Doctor?

So you may ask, what is a typical day in a doctor’s life? While this will be very different for most, we can conclude a regular day for most medical practitioners without the nuances.

Usually, the day in a doctor’s life begins with visiting and managing patients that have been hospitalized. Most doctors are often affiliated with several hospitals.

After addressing the emergencies, the physicians have office hours, which last six to ten hours per day. It is during these hours that they attend sick patients, and prescribe medicines to help prevent diseases. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Doctors are often interrupted via telephone by the hospital physicians who need to discuss the on-going care of our patients. If it is a private hospital, they also keep getting messages and alerts from patients about the changes in appointments and cancellations at the last minute.

When the entire day is over, there are “call-backs.” Many people call in to speak to a physician about ailments of their family members or discuss reports and labs. Sometimes, relatives come to the clinic during after hours to discuss the condition of their loved ones who are in the hospital.

A regular day may not end before 10 hours of work. Not to mention the working Saturdays in many clinics and hospitals. So, why do doctors really continue doing what they do in spite of having such hectic schedules and no work-life balance? The answer is simple—they love it. Most doctors want to make a difference in the lives of their patients.

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