A career in medicine is one of the most respected and challenging career options available. Not only must you dedicate yourself to a lifetime of learning, but the mental, physical, and emotional challenges associated with this line of work are nothing to take lightly. Still, doctors comprise some of the most critical and key workers in our society today.
No two areas of medicine are the same. The field of medicine is wide and varied, making it necessary for doctors of different specialties to demonstrate true dedication and commitment to the area they choose to work in. Each of these specialties has its own set of educational and professional experience-based requirements in order for a doctor to become proficient enough to practice.
If you are considering a career in medicine, you probably already possess some of the most common personality traits of physicians: compassion, strong work ethic, professionalism, thirst for knowledge, and confidence. If you already possess these traits, it’s time to think about how you will continue your education throughout your career.
First, since it is common knowledge that becoming a doctor is no easy task and takes a rather significant amount of time to get there, it is important to note that the day you become a doctor does not mark the end of your medical education.
Continuing Medical Education courses, also known as CME courses, are a requirement for all practicing physicians in order to maintain a medical license. CME credits can be earned in a number of different ways, but they must be completed within a certain time frame that has been set by each state’s licensing board. A physician can acquire CME credits through medical conferences and formal medical training courses, like those offered by an accredited institution like Empire Medical Training.
Because continuing education by nature is something that must be done throughout your career as a doctor, it is important to stay up-to-date on what courses are offered throughout the year so that you can find one that best suits your schedule. Thankfully, you can stay in the loop in a number of ways. Social media sites are a great tool for this purpose. For instance, Empire Medical Training provides updates on their courses on Twitter: https://twitter.com/empiremedical?lang=en.
The start of your formal medical education will typically be at a four-year university. While it is true that not everyone knows that they want to become a doctor right at the start of college, starting late can put you behind the curve a bit and make things more difficult in the long run. Furthermore, because the overall process of becoming a physician is so competitive, students who aspire to attend medical school must practice a level of discipline and commitment that is unparalleled in the collegiate setting.
Of course, becoming a doctor takes time. One only becomes qualified for medical school after spending four years earning a bachelor’s degree. The most popular degree for this stage is undoubtedly a pre-med program, which is specifically designed to prepare students for the challenges of medical school by giving them a solid educational foundation. That being said, students can study other areas and still be considered for a spot in a medical school program if they so desire.
During the years you spend earning your undergraduate degree, you will also need to take courses and perform independent study for the infamous MCAT examination. Your grades earned during your undergraduate years, combined with the MCAT score that you earn will be the two main things that admissions advisors consider when you apply to a medical school program.
There are other factors like participation in medical-based research and the earning of patient contact hours, and these should definitely be done in order to build a strong application for medical school. This is only the beginning, though.
Graduate Degree Programs
The competitive nature of gaining acceptance into a medical school program in the United States can’t be overstated. With roughly a 40% matriculation rate, a vast number of students who apply to medical school will find that they will not gain admission their first time applying. This isn’t to say that all such students have no chance of becoming a doctor. It does mean, though, that the process will be prolonged by at least one additional year.
Some students choose to attend a graduate school in order to make their applications stronger for admission to medical school. This is a great way to demonstrate a student’s determination to become a physician, although it can add a year or two to the overall journey. Still, many future doctors opt to take this route instead of giving up.
Once you have been accepted to and are actually attending medical school, you will spend roughly another four years becoming an M.D. The education you earn in medical school will first take the form of lectures, classes, and exams before transitioning to active learning through clinical study.
These years will be some of the busiest of your life, as you must also simultaneously study independently for your STEP examinations. If you were starting to get the impression that becoming a physician requires a lot of studying, you would be right.
After medical school, your formal education, as it pertains to the more traditional learning formats, is more or less complete. You are still not able to practice medicine as a fully qualified doctor just yet, though. Those who graduate from medical school are simply ready to enter into a residency program. Depending on what specialization you choose to enter into, this program can last another four years or so.
Once residency is completed, you are a fully qualified physician able to practice medicine in your chosen specialty independently. As previously stated, this doesn’t mean that your education is done forever. It does, however, mark a singular and amazing accomplishment as you take your first official steps into the world of medicine as a practicing physician.