Summary: The 7 Critical Steps To Becoming A Doctor
This is a ton of information to take in at once, especially if you’re at the beginning of this process or if you’re still unsure about entering the medical field.
To recap, here are the seven major steps you must take to become a doctor:
You should also keep in mind two important takeaways:
- You don’t have to decide at the beginning of college that you want to become a doctor . The path to becoming a physician isn’t completely rigid, especially if you’re interested in other biological and physical science careers.
- You don’t have to think about all these steps at the same time. Once you’re in medical school, your peers will be thinking about the same thingsthere’s no way you’ll forget any important steps!
Becoming a doctor is definitely not for everyonegetting into medical school is really tough, and you still have a lot of training to complete even after you graduate. But if you decide you want to enter the medical profession, you now have the info you need to start off on the right foot!
Do Well In High School
If you’re serious about becoming a doctor, you’ll do yourself a big favor by getting focused in high school. As mentioned, this is a pretty competitive field, so the earlier you start distinguishing yourself as a great student, the easier the process will be.
Here’s what you can do in high school to help prepare you for later steps.
Get A Great Score On The Act/sat
To get into a great medical school, it helps to go to a great college. And to get into a great college, it helps to get a high score on the SAT/ACT.
Plan on taking your first test by the end of your junior yearthis gives you time to take your test of choice again if you want to try to raise your scores.
Read these guides for more info on how to get a great SAT/ACT score:
- What counts as a good, bad, or average ACT or SAT score?
- How can you get a perfect score on the ACT or SAT?
- How long should you study for the ACT or SAT?
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Helpful Tips For High School Students On How To Become A Doctor
This post is dedicated for all of you youngins who want to become a practicing medical doctor but are still far away from achieving it.
If you want to know what you should do now to get to this point and how to build interest in medicine, Im going to bring the process down into several steps.
Lets get right into it!
How Can High School Students Prepare For A Pre
To prepare for a pre-med major, you must take the right courses in high school. These include the sciences, such as physics and chemistry math, including calculus and statistics and even English. Pursue a rigorous combination of AP, Honors or IB courses and strive for the highest grades possible.
Its important to note here that although your college may accept AP credit, medical schools may not. If you are pursuing a medical career, take the college course and pass up the AP credit. Not only will this college level course look better on your pre-med admissions application, but it will also prepare you for the MCAT and medical school classes.
Next, look for a high school summer medical program. These programs will give you exposure to the world of medicine and also the opportunity to work with medical professionals. Colleges such as Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown and many others offer summer programs that introduce students to the medical field. Some hospitals, such as Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, also offer summer internships or research opportunities for high school students.
If you like what you experience at one of these pre-med summer programs, it is a good indicator that you are on the right track toward a career in medicine.
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Getting Into Medical School From High School
Yep, you read that title correctly. But go ahead and read it once more! Direct medical programs come packaged in a variety of names: Combined BS-BA/MD, Guaranteed Admissions Programs, Direct BS-BA/MD Programs, etc. What they all have in common, however, is that they all provide a direct route for a high school student to gain admission into medical school.
For those that have never heard of these programs before, it understandably seems too good to be true. Yet it is this rarity that makes these programs ever so competitive. In brief, direct BS/MD programs are essentially combined college and medical school admissions that a high school senior can apply for. This can include an undergraduate experience of between two to four years, followed by four years of medical school. Often times, there is a minimum GPA requirement the student must keep while in undergrad to remain eligible for medical school admission. Even better, there are a few dozen programs that waive the MCAT!
Gaining acceptance into one of these programs requires years of hard work while in high school, and equally important, diligence during the application process. During high school, your job is to become as well rounded as possible. Of course grades and standardized exam scores matter, but the following will complete the picture.
What Does The Diploma Involve
Although any Access to Higher Education Diploma pathway can make you eligible for university, the Access to Higher Education Diploma has been specifically designed with your future in medicine in mind.
On the Access to medicine programme, you will study everything you need in preparation for your future medical degree.
You will develop medical-specific knowledge through theory-based Science modules on:
- Human immunity
- Cell division and heredity
- The human endocrine and nervous system
Alongside your Science-based studies, you will hone your academic writing and research skills, so youre prepared for undergraduate study.
Your Access to medicine course will provide you with the foundation you need to study a medical or healthcare-related degree with confidence, no matter how long youve been out of education.
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Don’t Skimp On Extracurricular Activities
Show that you’re interested in other things besides schoolwork. Dr. Carlson says having outside interests makes you stand out . “It’s OK to indicate some of these personal interests on your med school applicationsthey give the interviewers something to relate to you with,” she says. “I interviewed one applicant who only got a C in biochemistry, but he wrote lots of letters to the admissions committee highlighting his other strengths. We accepted him, and he turned out to be a star.”
“Medical schools like to see commitment in their applicants, be it to sports, work, or extracurricular activities,” says McKenzie. “It ‘s easier to not join clubs and just do homework and relax, but devoting time now to extracurricular commitments is worth it in the long run. These experiences also give you good opportunities to get to know people who can write the letters of recommendation.”
Joseph says to choose activities based on what works best for you. Aim for quality rather than quantity.
“There ‘s a lot of pressure to have as many leadership roles as possible and be involved in tons of student organizations. For me though, having a few deep and lasting experiences was the way to go. I chose to invest my time in research, improving my Spanish, and volunteering,” she says.
Be Polite And Be Yourself At Interviews
Research the schools you’re interested in and look at mission statements, so you know something about the institution that you can share at the interview. Practice answering interview questions. When you arrive, be courteous to everyone you meet at the interview, including the receptionist.
“Schools are interested in learning what kind of student and person you are,” says McKenzie. Schools invest in students and are looking for a good fit.
If you need help with effective body language, knowing how to dress professionally or for other tips, check out your school’s Career Services office, which may offer mock interview opportunities and other techniques to help you present your best self.
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Before The Game: Earn A Bachelors Degree 4 Years
Four years to prepare your brain for the harsh education in medical school. Hence the pre-med which is the title for an aspiring doctor in undergraduate school. You dont have to major in a science subject to be a pre-med, as long as the required classes are being taken. Yet majority of those students who are becoming a doctor generally major in a medical-related subject since the subject matter interests them enough to want to go to medical school.
Tip #: Explore Other Medical Fields
One thing you should really understand is that its important to explore and consider other fields.
Being a doctor is not by any means the best field of medicine. More importantly, it may not be the best field for you.
You may want to check out other fields such as being a nurse where there are a lot of brilliant people. I honestly couldnt do my job without them.
Other great fields include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, social work, respiratory therapy, and physician assistant.
There are so many fields in the healthcare industry that you should definitely take some time to explore.
Being a doctor may sound nice and your family and friends may be influencing or pressuring you, but you cant just stop there.
Give appreciation, time and due diligence to other fields as well, because theres plenty of brilliant and smart people doing other interesting things.
Certain qualities are more prominent in other fields too.
For example, if you want to become a people person, you may provide bedside care or interact with the patients. The doctor doesnt always do that!
I spent a few hours with my patients today, but the nurse who took care of them spent several hours more! She sat right outside the room and provided for anything the patient needed.
Thus, understand what you value and explore different career paths.
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Build Relationships With Professors And Mentors
You’ll need a few strong letters of recommendation from respected faculty members when you submit your med school applicationsuse this fact to motivate you to network with as many people as possible.
Develop relationships with professors and mentors by going to their office hours, actively participating in class, and taking opportunities to work on research projects.
Your nerdy professors will prove to be invaluable resources when you’re applying to med school, but only if you have relationships with them!
When To Start Career Research
The high school years are the perfect time to begin exploring your interests and preparing your background. Take advantage of the resources available at your school and in your local community to begin your preparation for a medical career.
Why is it important to start early if you want to become a doctor? First, you will need to attend a college that will prepare you for medical school. This means a competitive college or university that offers the science classes you will need for acceptance into medical school. You will need to take the appropriate classes in high school to increase your chances of being accepted at the undergraduate institution of your choice.
In addition to your coursework, undergraduate admissions and medical school admissions will consider your extracurricular activities. The more relevant experience you have, the stronger a candidate you will be. That experience will also help you figure out if you are sure that you are interested in a medical career because you will be exposed to what it’s really like to be a doctor.
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Learn To Study Early On
College classes are a lot tougher than high school classes and require a different kind of studying. Even people who flew through high school without having to study find they have to spend time in the library as pre-meds.
Different study methods work for different people. If youre not sure where to start, you can try talking with your academic advisor or your professors during their office hours.
After Completing Medical Education
After completing your medical education, you will have to become licensed to practice medicine in the state in which you work. All 50 states in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, have state medical licensing boards that are responsible for licensing doctors.
While each board has its own requirements, all of them require having completed an accredited medical school and graduate medical education. An M.D. must pass all three parts of the United States Medical Licensing Examination , and a D.O. must pass all three levels of the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination . Contact the state medical board in your state to learn about its requirements. The Federation of State Medical Boards also publishes the State-Specific Requirements for Initial Medical Licensure.
In addition to getting a state license, many doctors choose to become board certified in a medical specialty. Each of the member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties grants certification which must be renewed every several years. Initial certification requires completion of medical school and graduate medical education, and passing a written or oral exam in that area of specialization.
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Study Early And Often For The Medical College Admission Test Or Mcat
MCAT scores range from 472-528. Accepted medical students average around 508. Recommended study time: 300-350 hours.
Take a course and buy books and study on your own. Find the method that works for you. Take practice tests many times and don’t let your practice scores spook you, says McKenzie. “I used the Kaplan book series, and studied by reading, highlighting, and taking notes. The real MCAT was not as hard as the Kaplan test, in my opinion.” The pre-health professions advisor can help you find the resources you need.
You can also join a pre-health professions club or association at your school, including Alpha Epsilon Delta, the national honor society for health pre-professionals. Members help each other get ready for tests, along with hosting speakers and events to help gain knowledge and experience.
How To Find University Lab Research Opportunities
So how exactly do you find research at a university lab?
First off, if you know anyone who works at a university lab, then the best thing you can possibly do is showcase your interest to him or her. Having connections is probably the only shortcut to getting research at a lab. If you dont have any personal connections, though, then unfortunately youre stuck having to go about it the old-fashioned way: emailing professors.
The first thing to do when deciding which professors to email is to isolate your own interests. Just generically claiming that youre interested in, say, biology will ultimately get you nowhere. Instead, you must focus in on a smaller, subtopic of biology and do some research on professors who study that field.
Once youve found a list of professors interested in the same subject matter as you, its time to learn about the specific details of each professors projects. What exactly are they studying? Why is it critical to understand that? How do your experiences and interests match up with theirs? These are the questions you should be asking yourself when reading through the professors publications and deciding whether or not you want to email them to inquire about a possible position in their lab.
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Apply To Medical School
There is no specified timeline for you to apply to a medical school. Students commonly start the application process during the summer after their junior year in college. However, a few students prefer to take one year break after the completion of their undergraduate degrees before they apply. A number of medical schools in the United States make use of the American Medical College Application Service or AMCAS . AMCAS is a central application processing service provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Students select their target medical schools and submit one application to AMCAS. AMCAS then distributes the application to each medical institution.
What Degree Do You Need
To practice as a medical doctor, you will need a Medical Doctor degree . To enter an M.D. program, youll need to first get an undergraduate degree. Most M.D. programs also view applicants who studied relevant disciplines when they were undergraduates as more eligible for admission.
M.D. programs generally last four years. Once youre done with medical school, youll need to complete 3-7 years of residency before you can receive licensing and start practicing medicine. Throughout these seven to 11 years, youll spend countless hours in clinical settings performing your duties as a doctor, but you wont be fully licensed yet.
Here are some examples of the subjects you might study as part of your M.D. program:
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How To Choose Online Courses To Prepare For A Career In The Medical Field
For many students, the path to a career starts in high school. As students increasingly identify at an early stage the fields they want to enter, they naturally want to know which high school classes will best prepare them for their chosen field.
eAchieve Academy offers a huge selection of online high school classes with free tuition for Wisconsin residents under 21. We have highly experienced instructors and provide career-planning resources to help our students meet their academic and career goals. Motivated students who have identified the healthcare or medical field at an early stage can benefit immensely from the course offerings and guidance offered at eAchieve Academy.