Steps to Become a Doctor in the US
If you are interested in becoming a part of this field, there is a detailed list of requirements you need to fulfill. The following steps to become a doctor will guide you further in this regard:
- Get a Bachelor’s Degree
At this stage, aspiring doctors are not required to have a medicine related major. However, it is recommended that they take courses in biology, physics, math and pre-medical sciences to pave the way for future studies. Some colleges offer specific pre-medical programs, designed to help aspiring doctors.
- Pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
The MCAT is a standardized test used as a measurement standard by medical schools across the country. The exam is a test, based on multiple-choice format, that students must pass in order to get admission into a medical school. This 5-hour long test, tests students’ knowledge on biology, physical science, verbal skills and critical thinking. Most medical schools give a lot of weightage to this test in the admissions process, along with using interviews and letters of recommendation as judging factors. So it is imperative to get a good score to be considered for the best medical programs in the country.
- Enroll in a Medical School
Medical schools are four-year long programs designed to train aspiring doctors in various medical fields. The first two years of a medical program are devoted to classroom training, along with a noted amount of lab work. These two years are the foundation for further specialized studies, so students are encouraged to pay attention in class.
During the second year of medical school, all the students have to sit through the first part of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which is conducted by the National Board of Medical Examiners.
Medical school’s final two years focus on clinical experience, with various rotations at clinics and other healthcare settings. Students get to work under attending physicians and begin their training practically. In the fourth year of medical school, aspiring doctors are required to clear the part two of the USMLE exam. This is also the year when students begin their residency program.
- Complete the Residency Program
The internship for a doctor is referred to as a residency. A lot of doctors complete their residency in 3 to 7 year long programs, depending on the selected specialization. The final licensing exam is given during the first year of residency. The residency focuses entirely on practical training in a medical setting, as opposed to classroom learning.
- Complete the Licensing Process
Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but in most cases, at least a 1-year long residency is required. Once all the requirements are met and all the required exams have been cleared, a doctor is considered fully eligible for a medical license through the medical board of his/her state.
Salary and Job Outlook for Doctors
The amount of salary earned by doctors is dependent on the specialization they choose. The following table lists down the annual mean wages for doctors in various specialties:
|Family and General Practitioners||$211,780|
|Obstetricians and Gynecologists||$238,320|
|Physicians and Surgeons, all other||$203,880|