Doctors play a significant role in the life of every person from birth through death. From preventative medicine and patient education to performing emergent life-saving procedures, doctors are amongst the most intelligent and compassionate professionals in the field of healthcare.
How To Become A Doctor
Becoming a doctor is no small feat. You must complete specific degree programs, sustain rigorous residency requirements, and obtain licensure and board certification before you begin your career as a medical doctor.
Earn Your Undergraduate Degree with a Major Relevant to The Medical Field
In order to be admitted to medical school, admissions often require that you complete an undergraduate degree in an area of study relevant to the field of medicine. Your undergraduate degree typically takes four years to complete.
Potential undergraduate options include, but are not limited to, pre-medicine, biology, and even veterinary medicine.
It is highly recommended that you secure a strong GPA to remain competitive against other medical school applicants, as it will prove your dedication and ability to successfully complete rigorous coursework.
Successfully Pass the MCAT Examination
Taken during your junior year of your undergraduate degree program, the MCAT exam is designed to evaluate the abilities of medical school candidates for admission. Successfully passing the MCAT shows admissions personnel that you are a qualified applicant ready to succeed in a medical program.
Attend and Complete Medical School
Begin by researching your options. You want to attend a school that has the appropriate credentials and accreditations that apply to the path you are embarking on.
Once you’ve selected a school, you apply and wait to receive the verdict. If you have been accepted to a reputable medical school, you will complete an additional four years of study.
Coursework will consist of both classroom instruction and applied instruction in the form of clinical rotations to achieve a level of comprehension that only a hands-on environment can provide.
Successfully Pass Parts I & II of the Licensing Exam
To be able to legally practice medicine, you will be required to take and pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).
Parts I & II of the exam will be taken during the course of your study in medical school. Part I must be taken and passed before entering the third year of study, while Part II must be taken and passed during the fourth year of study.
Choose Your Area of Medical Specialty and Complete Residency Requirements
During the final year of your study in medical school you must choose your area of medical specialty. Some examples of medical specialties include obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, urology, pediatrics, etc.
Once you have settled on the area of medical specialty in which you intend to practice, you will apply to be matched to fill vacancies within residency programs throughout the country.
Upon graduation from medical school you will begin your residency and will complete it in a minimum of three years. During your residency, you will be responsible for taking and passing the final part, Part III of the USMLE.
Earn Board Certifications in Your Area of Medical Specialty
Upon completion of your residency requirements you will obtain a board certification in your chosen area of medical specialty. Obtaining board certifications requires examination by means of written, and occasionally oral examination.
Becoming board certified makes an MD more marketable amongst their peers, and in most cases, is your green light to practice.
With malpractice claims on the rise, practices require their MDs to possess all credentials necessary to instill confidence in both the practice and the patient.
Obtain Licensure in the State in Which You Intend to Practice
Each state medical board sets requirements for obtaining licensure in their state. Before practicing medicine in your area of medical specialty, you must obtain state licensure.
This typically involves an evaluation of criteria based upon your age, your moral character, and whether or not you have successfully completed all of the aforementioned requirements to a high standard at which the board sets to ensure that doctors fully comprehend the responsibility and duty they possess.
Apply for Jobs Until You Get Hired
After you’ve completed all of the above-mentioned training, examinations, and licensure requirements, you’re ready to begin applying for positions as a medical doctor. Often times this process is begun in advance during the residency in an effort to achieve location and specialty preferences.
Some residencies result in the securement of full-time employment within the hospital or practice in which the residency was completed, contingent upon completion of residency, board certification and licensure.
Occasionally new doctors will search for open positions in other practices, or are contacted by recruiters attempting to fill vacant positions.
The average candidate can expect to pay approximately $170,000 on medical school alone. Add in the interest that accumulates on student loans, lost opportunity, and living expenses, and the average medical school graduate has acquired $800,000 in debt.
Job Description / Responsibilities
Doctors make a positive daily contribution to the health and well-being of our population. Possessing extensive knowledge in various disciplines within the field of healthcare, doctors save countless lives that would have otherwise been lost without appropriate medical intervention.
- Remain mindful of their oath to do no harm, adhering to the ethical code of conduct both in and out of contact with the patient.
- Assess each patient on a case by case basis in which he/she will utilize necessary skills and expertise to determine the appropriate course of treatment.
- Conduct physical exams and procedures in the presence of a same gender standby, informing the patient of the procedure or exam being conducted, making the patient as comfortable as is possible dependent upon the nature of the procedure.
- Maintain composure and respect while listening intently to the concerns and description of symptoms experienced as described by the patient.
- Protect the patient’s right to confidentiality by diligently employing the guidelines of HIPPA laws.
- Oder diagnostic laboratory tests when it is indicated to properly identify the correct course of treatment.
- Inform the patient of medically significant findings resulting from diagnostic laboratory tests.
- Write prescriptions for medications when presentation of symptoms and diagnostic laboratory results indicate the use of pharmacological treatment intervention as medically necessary.
- Educate the patient regarding preventative healthcare and how to properly monitor and control their medical conditions with home care between clinical visits.
- Maintain records for each patient, documenting all visit details to include vital signs, physical exams, labs, and procedures performed, diagnoses, and any prescribed medications.
- Collaborate with nurses, medical assistants, and other co-workers as necessary throughout the day to maintain an organized working environment.
- Implement good leadership skills when directing a team of medical professionals, communicating clearly your expectations, praising their efforts, and ensuring to lead by example upholding the code of conduct and patient confidentiality.
- Use critical thinking and problem solving skills to apply research and practical skills to interpret difficult presentations of patient symptoms.
- Refer patients to peer colleagues or specialists when necessary for assistance in diagnosing and executing proper treatment.
As long as there are people, there will be birth, illness, injury, and death. Highly-qualified doctors are in high demand and have a job security will never be a concern.
The projected growth potential for doctors is expected to reach 14% over the course of the next 10 years.
Due to an increasing demand for health care by the elderly and aging, doctors are needed more now than ever; increasing a need for cardiologists, geriatric physicians and other specializations addressing aging-related illnesses.
Doctors in certain specializations, such as, anesthesia, oncology, neurology, and pediatrics, are among the most sought after candidates by employers.
Medical school candidates are encouraged to consider in-demand fields to achieve the fastest hire and most rapid potential for growth.
Doctors work in a variety of settings. Depending on designated area of medical specialty, a doctor can work in a private office or clinic as a sole practitioner or as part of a practice, in a hospital setting, or within another healthcare organization.
- Doctors hours can vary, but it is typically for a doctor to work a minimum of 40 hours a week, often extending well beyond the minimum time input.
- Doctors are often “on-call” when they are away from work, often leading them to leave their personal lives to go into work with little notice.
- Doctors will work in a sterile environment in the presence of patients with infectious, contagious, and sometimes very dangerous illness and disease.
- Doctors often come into contact with potentially hazardous bodily fluids and must use extra caution when working with scalpels, needles, and other potential sources of injury that may lead to the cause of infection.
- Doctors will work in a high-pressure environment that is often very fast-paced, and will be expected to complete a large number of tasks in a limited span of time.
- Doctors will work closely with nursing staff and medical assistants; all must work harmoniously to ensure a smooth transition between each consult with a patient.
Finding a rewarding career that is best suited for your personality and goals begins with research and resources.
MCAT Registration: For aspiring medical school attendees, this site provides updated registration deadlines and test dates and allows for easy MCAT registration online.
- MCAT Practice Questions: If you’re not quite ready to register for the MCAT yet, or you’re already registered and need some extra practice before the big day, this site offers practice questions for test prep.
- MCAT Practice Test: Want to predict how you’ll perform when you take the MCAT? This practice test can give you sneak peak of your comprehension.
- Residency Vacancies: For medical students in search of vacancy positions to complete their residency, this site aggregates available positions from around the country on one easy-to-use page.
- Doctor Compensation Report: If you’re curious about which specializations bring in the most income, check out this compensation report that details the median income for each area of specialization.
- Weekly Hourly Input: If you’ve ever been curious about what the average doctor’s weekly work schedule looks like, this site displays how often most doctor’s work.
- Choosing a Pre-Med Undergraduate Degree: Pre-med isn’t the only undergraduate degree option for aspiring doctors. Check out your alternative pre-med options here.
- Medical Specialty Aptitude Test: For those considering a career as a doctor or those trying to pinpoint their chosen area of specialization, this medical specialty aptitude test can help narrow down possibilities based on your preferences.
- Job Satisfaction: Being a doctor is rewarding, but some doctors admit that given the chance, they would have chosen a different specialization. See which specializations ranked highest in job satisfaction.
- Physician Nationwide Job Search: For the new or seasoned physician in search of employment, a nationwide database allows prospective hires to view thousands of available job postings here.
- Career Personality Analysis: Maybe after all you’ve learned here you decided that being a doctor isn’t for you. Take this career personality analysis test to see what careers would best suit you.
To be successful, doctors need to possess a variety of well-rounded skills. From strong communication skills to in depth analytical and problem solving abilities, doctors are expected to maintain comprehension and continue challenging themselves, while remaining mindful of the patient at all times.
Compassion and Empathy: Understanding the patient’s feelings surrounding their health and being able to show compassion for their worries and concerns is important in establishing a welcoming and comfortable bedside manner.
- Communication: Communication is key. A doctor needs to possess the ability to effectively communicate to the patient his/her condition in a manner that is easily comprehensible and informative.
- Listening: Communicating is important but listening is of equal value. Listening to the patient allows them to feel heard, validated, and important while simultaneously providing the doctor with important details regarding the state of the patient’s health.
- Problem Solving: Doctors are professional problem solvers. Each patient presents with a different health concern and set of symptoms. Doctors must be able to piece together the various signs and symptoms to form an accurate diagnosis.
- Analytics: Doctors need to have the ability to analyze varying presentations of symptoms and order appropriate tests to resolve and confirm a diagnosis and course of treatment.
- Resourceful: A successful doctor will be proficient in their ability to consult resources when the patient’s condition does not yield an obvious diagnosis. Doctors must often research a patient’s symptoms to arrive at diagnosis. When a diagnosis is not attainable, a doctor must refer to appropriate colleagues within a capable specialty.
- Drive: A doctor must remain ambitious and take initiative. In this fast paced career, a doctor must be a self-starter and remain focused.
- Extensive Medical Comprehension: A doctor must have a strong confidence in his/her understanding of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, the body’s processes, pathology, and pharmaceuticals.
- Stamina: A doctor must have stamina to be able to work long hours, scheduled and unanticipated, within a demanding field.
- Mental Stability: A doctor must possess the mental stability and emotional resilience to cope with the possibility and occurrence of potential undesirable outcomes for the patient.