There are several reasons why people choose to enter into a medical profession. For doctors, this could mean to save lives. It has become the norm for people to consult a physician when they are suffering from symptoms of different types of diseases. Almost all people who have access to clinics or hospitals will have met a doctor in their waking life. This career can be very challenging since a mistake could mean the life or death of a patient. Economic-wise, this job is better than engineers, accountants and salesman since it has shown resilience in trying times. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicians and surgeons are receiving an income of $166,400 per annum or wages of $80 an hour. Contemplating on becoming one? Here’s what to expect should you choose to become a doctor one day. Lets see how long does it take to become a doctor …
First step to become a doctor – High School
You start setting up your academic foundation in high school. This will typically take you four years to finish. If you do well in science subjects such as chemistry and biology, then it will be easier for you to tackle these subjects as you enter into school of medicine. Although grades in college will be mostly what will be taken into account when considering your application in medicine school, your science academic foundation and discipline when it comes to study starts way before you enter college and high school provides the best setting to help you with these.
Step 2 – Taking Up Undergraduate Studies
After you acquire a high school diploma, you will have to get a bachelor’s degree. While most schools do not give particular requirements with regard to courses being taken, getting one geared towards sciences will give you an advantage in medical school. Examples of ideal courses are biology, anatomy, chemistry and physiology. Take note to care of your grades. One of the most difficult courses to get into is medicine. Only about 10% of applicants are accepted by medicine schools. If you want to be included in their list of shortlisted applicants, then let your grades speak of your academic capability. Engaging in extracurricular activities such as becoming an officer in a school organization could give you plus points since this could speak of your leadership skills. A bachelor’s degree could be obtained in 4 to 5 years’ time
Step 3 – Entering Into Medical School
In order to enter into medical school, you need to have a stellar transcript of records and pass the school’s Medical College Admissions Test, also called MSAT. This exams will determine if you have the capacity to handle programs offered in medical school. Typically, MSAT is a multiple choice exams with the inclusion of writing sections. Depending on the school, weight could be different. Some schools may want to see a scale score of at least eight from a scale of 15 while others may impose higher qualifications. Expect top schools to only admit those who belong to the top performers. Medical school is typically covered in four years with the first two years spent in laboratory and classrooms and the last two years comprising of practical work under the supervision of qualified doctors, done in hospital or clinical settings.
Step 4 – Internship and Residency
Finishing medical school may give you theoretical and practical knowledge but this is not yet considered enough to give you a license. After medical school, you must enter into internship and residency. Residency will take about three to nine years to complete depending of chosen field of specialization. In order to be considered for a residency program, one must go through the matching process. In here, the candidates will list down their chosen fields of specialization according to the order of preference. If selected, the candidate will be interviewed for the program. The “match run” will determine what type of residency program will be undertaken by the aspiring doctor for the next years. Read more about internship salary and residency salary.
Choosing to Enter Into Fellowships
Some choose to enter into fellowship programs after completing residency. This will give the doctor additional training in a certain field of specialization. Some areas of specialization may require you to enter into fellowship programs because of level of complexity of work. If you are a doctor of gastroenterology or child psychiatry, entering into fellowships is recommended. Fellowships could last from 1 to 3 years. Read more about fellowship salary.
Some Considerations about doctor career
Medicine is not for the faint of heart. You need to be academically inclined and physically fit in order to do well in this job. If you are employed in a hospital setting, you could be on call in ungodly hours of the day. Just by entering into medical school, you will be expected to put out long hours studying medical books. Internship and residency could mean spending long hours in hospitals and clinics in rotations. Physical and mental work could be stressful but this is not the only problem faced by medical students. Medical school could be very expensive. There are many graduates of medicine whose families are in debt because the course could not be easily afforded by people who are receiving average wages. However, many people still choose to enter into this type of trade because of promising salary rates. There is also the risk of being faced with a medical malpractice where patients could take you to court if they suspect that procedure was not done in due care. While pay rates are high, expenses in medical malpractice could negate your take home pay.
Final Thoughts about becoming a doctor
If you are ready to hit the science books and have the stamina to endure long hours of work, becoming a doctor could be right for you. While it is true that it could take you up to 12 years before you can be qualified as one, pay rates are considered high compared to other types of jobs. But this should not only be the only motivation into entering this trade. The medical profession is all about helping other people. You need to have an ounce of compassion and dedication. These traits will allow you to do your best job every time a patient enters your clinic or asks for your services.