Becoming a doctor takes years of hard work and effort. This work begins with high school. A person who wants to become a doctor should take an academic track of classes in high school. Though a well-rounded selection of classes provides a good foundation of knowledge for starting college, science courses like biology, chemistry, and physics are among the most important. Advanced math courses are helpful as well.
College is the necessary next step when a person wants to become a doctor in the United States and some other countries; many aspiring doctors choose the pre-med major to prepare for medical school. However, this is not a requirement, and it is possible to gain admittance to medical school with another major, even one that is not in the science field. Still, applicants need a firm foundation in science courses to go from college to medical school. It's wise to take a year of freshman chemistry, a year of organic chemistry, a year of biology, and a year of physics, making sure the science choices include laboratory components. Additionally, applicants typically need one year of English and one year of advanced math, such as calculus.
Each medical school has its own unique requirements for admitting students. As such, it's a good idea for applicants to look into schools that may interest them before they even start college. This can give them a good idea of the type of coursework they'll need to complete as well as other requirements for admission. A medical school hopeful may even decide to attend a college that is known for its particularly good premedical program or for its medical school affiliation.
Good grades in college are a must for those who want to attend medical school. Medical school admission is competitive. However, getting good grades is not enough to secure a seat in medical school. Applicants also have to pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Scoring well on this test is essential for gaining admittance to a medical school.
The next step is attending medical school. Aspiring doctors need to take a lot of science courses, and they can expect to spend a great deal of time in both laboratories and traditional classrooms. This is particularly true of the first two years of schooling. In the last two years of medical school, students work with both patients and doctors in hospital and clinical settings, learning how to provide care and developing their bedside manners under the supervision of experienced doctors.
Once a person graduates from medical school, his training is not over, even though he has earned a medical degree. Medical school graduates go on to residency training in hospital settings. They handle patient care under the supervision of more experienced doctors. This training usually last about three years, although some people spend additional time in residency training when they seek to go into certain medical specialties.
There are also exams to pass to become a doctor. Aspiring doctors have to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), steps one and two, during medical school. Step three of the USMLE is taken during residency.
There may be some differences in training for someone who hopes to become a doctor outside of the United States. However, most developed countries have some sort of extensive education requirement in order to become a doctor. In places like the United Kingdom, a person may begin training to become a doctor right after leaving high school, which is far different from the United States requirement. In other places, like Mexico, a person does need to complete four years of undergraduate study before moving on to medical school.