According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicians and surgeons made a median wage equal to or greater than $208,000 per annum. These figures make it one of the highest-paid occupations in the country. Apart from this monetary benefit, the repute and the respect enjoyed by Verified Healthcare Practitioners, by the virtue of their profession, make their position enviable. Naturally, this might make young and bright minds wonder, “how to become a doctor in the USA?”
If you are wondering the same, this guide is perfect for you. Here’s everything that you need to know about how to be a doctor in the USA:
How Many Years Does it Take to Become a Doctor in the USA?
It may take anything between 11 to 15 years to become a doctor in the USA, depending on their educational qualification and specialization.
For starters, you must possess a high school diploma/GED (or an equivalent degree) and clear the MCAT to qualify for this career. Then you need to submit applications to medical schools, along with your MCAT score, letter of recommendation, and college transcripts.
From thereon, here is a breakdown of a typical program length:
- Bachelor’s Degree: 4 years
- Medical School: 4 years
- Paid Residency: 3 to 8 years (depending on the specialty)
- Fellowship: 1 to 3 years
Pre-Requisites for a Medical Career
Medical schools do not particularly recommend any undergraduate degree for aspirants who wish to become doctors.
However, you have greater chances of excelling in the MCAT if you pursue subjects like anatomy, biology, physiology, math, physics, and chemistry. Apart from these applied sciences, you must also enroll for a language degree, such as in English and any other foreign language. Some College Boards may mandate these topics.
Alternatively, students also enroll in pre-med classes that cover English, Advanced Maths (including Calculus and Statistics), and theoretical and lab-based courses for General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Biology. It allows you the opportunity to earn recommendations from your pre-med professors.
MCAT: The Medical College Admission Test to Become a Doctor
Your score in the MCAT, along with your GPA, determines whether or not you get accepted by a medical college. It is an intensive computerized test that takes about 7 hours 30 minutes (with breaks) to complete.
This test to become a doctor contains the following four sections:
- Applied Sciences: Physics and Inorganic Chemistry multiple-choice questions that are pretty straightforward (1-15 grading)
- Biological Sciences: Biology and Organic Chemistry multiple-choice questions that require a problem-solving approach to integrate several concepts (1-15 grading)
- Verbal Reasoning: Reading comprehension of passages followed by multiple-choice questions. It has a total of 65 questions across nine passages (1-15 grading)
- Writing Sample: Writing two essays, each in 30 minutes (O, P, Q, R, S grading)
Medical School comprises a 4-year medical training and education program.
The first two years focus on the theoretical knowledge and understanding of Science, paired with laboratory exercises. It prepares the students to diagnose and treat illnesses. In the second year, students appear for the first stage of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) conducted by the National Board of Medical Examiners.
In the next two years of medical school, students pursue clinical experience as they work with clinics and hospitals. They gain pupilage under attending physicians to gain practical training in real-life settings. In the fourth year, the National Board of Medical Examiners administers the second USMLE.
Some Medical Schools offer combined undergraduate and medical degrees. The program spans over six years and imparts fast-track academic and medical education in a compressed format.
Upon completing medical school, doctors sign up for clerkship or internship period, commonly called “residency.” It primarily focuses on practical training set in a live medical environment.
Depending on the specialization, you may take anything between 3 to 8 years to complete the residency. You can take your licensing exam after the completion of the first year of residency.
At the end of your residency, you will have to appear for the third and final USMLE.
In order to become eligible as a licensed doctor, you need to complete your Bachelor’s Degree, Medical School, and at least 1-year of residency. The residency period varies state-wise. After that, you may appear for a board certification exam in the medical specialty of your choice.
After completing the above process, the doctor is a fully licensed medical professional who can legally practice in their respective medical field.
Process of Becoming a Medical Specialist
The process of how to become a medical doctor in the USA stops at Licensing. However, if you wish to gain specialization, you will have to apply to programs called fellowships. These courses offer additional training for 1 to 3 years for specialty and sub-specialty in the medical field.
Steps to Becoming a Medical Doctor in the USA
Now that you know all about how to become a doctor in the USA, let’s wrap it up with a quick overview of the entire process:
- Step 1: Earn your Bachelor’s degree from any accredited colleges or universities.
- Step 2: Register for the MCAT and pass it.
- Step 3: Apply to medical schools through the centralized American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) portal.
- Step 4: Complete the 4-year medical school training and pass USMLE Parts I & II.
- Step 5: Identify your specialty option and apply for residency programs.
- Step 6: Graduate from medical school and commence residency in your chosen specialty.
- Step 7: Complete residency and clear USMLE Part III.
- Step 8: Acquire a medical board certification and a state license in your chosen field.
- Step 9: Start practicing or seek out doctor jobs in the open market.
MedPiper: Connecting Doctors and Hospitals
As you can see from above, the path of how to be a doctor in the USA is long and winding. While you cannot do much to cut short the educational requirements and the learning process, you can always expedite your job hunt with MedPiper.
Discover better opportunities to hone your talents in the right environment. So don’t waste a single moment and start applying to various medical institutions through MedPiper. It is safe, convenient, and easy!