How to Study to Become a Doctor

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In order for doctors to provide patients with the best care possible, the training to become a licensed medical doctor is extensive and difficult. Unlike other degree programs, doctors spend at least 11 years on their education. For doctors looking to work in specialty fields, additional education is a requirement.

  • Begin your medical training in high school; don't wait until you graduate from college or even high school. Children as young as middle school can begin preparing for their careers in the medical field. Volunteering in a hospital is a great way to gain hospital experience before you begin your training. High school students should also take high-level biology, chemistry and other science and math courses. If possible, high school seniors should take college-level science and math courses, which will alleviate some of the heavy course load that will come with your undergraduate courses.

  • Find an undergraduate program and work hard. Not all aspiring doctors need to enter a premed program in order to get into med schools. While top med schools look for students with a solid background in science and math, you can obtain this education at almost any college or university throughout the country. If you choose to get your undergraduate degree in something other than pre-medicine, make sure it's something science- or math-based. Take as many relevant courses as you can and keep your grade point average high.

  • Apply to a medical school after at least three years of undergraduate education (most complete a bachelor's degree and many have additional education). Medical schools, especially the top ones, are very competitive. You should have not only near perfect grades, but should be able to present your character, work ethic and educational abilities through personal essays and recommendations.

  • Go to medical school. You'll spend the first two years of medical school in a classroom/lab setting. You will learn topics ranging from anatomy to microbiology and everything else you'll need to be succeed as a doctor. You'll learn basic medical practices such as examinations, diagnosing and taking medical histories.

    You will typically spend your last two years working under the supervision of experienced physicians in teaching hospitals or clinics. By rotating through different areas such as family practice, obstetrics, pediatrics, surgery and internal medicine, you'll discover which area you would like to specialize in.

  • Find a residency program. Upon completion of medical schools, you enter a residency program. You'll enter a 12-month internship before a residency lasting two to six years. This time allows you to become comfortable with anything and everything you will encounter on your own as a doctor. This also gives you more time to discover your specialty areas and even work alongside experienced doctors in those areas.

  • Become licensed. The requirements to become a licensed physician vary by state. However, most states require that you graduate from an accredited medical school, complete one to seven years of graduate medical education and pass a licensing exam.

  • Become board certified, which is required in certain fields. The American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) both require you to go through specific training and education in order to become board certified. The ABMS covers 24 different medical specialties and the AOA covers 18. You'll tkae additional examinations and in some cases, spend additional time as a resident.

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