How Long Does it Take to Become a Doctor in the U.S?
Becoming a doctor is a commitment. If you’re the sort who loves medicine and the intricacies of the human body, this field is for you. While it does take a lot of hard work & a fair amount of time to become a doctor, there’s almost no limit to what many talented young men & women in the field of medicine are able to achieve early in their careers. Here’s an insight into how the process can pan out.
Undergraduate (4 years)
After high school, it is advised to major in anatomy, biology, chemistry, math and health sciences in college. Psychology, social sciences and research-based courses are also recommended.
During this period, students will appear for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and submit applications and recommendations to medical schools of their choice.
Being a doctor is not everyone’s forte – you must achieve academic excellence and discipline in your non-academic spheres.
Medical School (4 – 7 years)
If you’re heading to medical school right after college, expect a 4-year long program.
If you enter a medical school without a college education, your program will incorporate undergraduate studies and medical curriculum, which lasts for 7 years.
The textual part of the curriculum is taught in laboratories and lecture halls – topics ranging from basic medical knowledge, diagnosis and treatment manuals, advanced anatomy and physiology, and law and ethics of medical practice are stressed upon for a few years.
Towards the later years, students will ease into practical medicine. Working in clinics and hospitals under the supervision of doctors will be on the agenda. Work includes taking patient history, making diagnoses and learning from experience. If you enter a medical school without a college education, your program will incorporate undergraduate studies and medical curriculum, which lasts for 7 years.
Graduation: Paid Residency! (3+ years)
If your medical school does not have an outpatient clinic training offered within the program, your next step is to get residency experience. This can last for 3 – 8 years, depending on specialization preferences, like consultation or surgery.
A graduate physician will work with real cases – assessing, diagnosing and treating patients in hospital clinics.
Optional: Specialty Fellowships (1 or 2 years)
Specialty fellowships can give you an edge within your specialty. For example, an oncologist goes on to specialize in treating pediatric cancers.
Optional: Certification (around 60 days)
Certification does not affect a doctor’s chances of employment, but certainly give them an edge over their colleagues. Patients and certain hospitals prefer to work with doctors who have been certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties because it represents a certain level of expertise, knowledge and aptitude.
The title of Doctor isn’t only depictive of prestige and honor; it represents commitment to fellow human beings.