The pursuit of becoming a doctor or surgeon is a challenging undertaking that ends with a huge reward of helping others. Learning how to be a doctor takes dedication and time. You will not become a doctor overnight; it will take a lot of motivation and inspiration to complete the training.
The average doctor studies for 12 years before earning their degree. However some non-surgical specialties can take 5 years and some may take longer. With 4 years of medical school and a 3-year residency, you can become a family practice physician or internal medicine physician.
How to Be a Doctor
Receive a Bachelor's Degree
The first step in learning how to be a doctor is earning your Bachelor’s degree. It is not mandatory that you have a specific major to be accepted into a medical school. It is, however, important that you have a strong background in natural sciences and experience in healthcare settings. The best courses you can take are those within biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics.
Pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
Most fields of study have standardized tests that get students into their programs. The medical field is not any different. If you want to be a doctor you have to pass the MCAT. The best preparation is to take biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physic courses. You also need to have problem solving, verbal reasoning, and writing skills.
Earn a Medical Degree
After you have passed the MCAT, you need to apply to a medical school. The first two years will be classroom work while the last two years you will work with patients under the supervision of a professional doctor. While in medical school you will learn about pharmacology, pathology, anatomy, and biochemistry as well as legal issues related to the medical field. The clinical during your third year will teach you about neurology, radiology, and medicine.
Complete a Residency Program
In learning how to be a doctor, a residency program is also necessary. Depending on your specialization, the program can last between three to eight years, during which time you will be responsible for the care of a number of patients. You have the opportunity to work directly with patients under a doctor’s supervision during residency programs.You will learn the skills needed for creating problem lists, performing physical exams, and putting together medical histories.
Obtain Your Medical License
A medical license is an inevitable if you want to know how to be a doctor. It is required by law, in all states, that you obtain your licenses before you legally practice medicine. Once you have graduated from a medical school, complete a residency program and pass specific exams, you may request a medical license. If you want to be an M.D. you must take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). If you want to be a D.O. you must take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).
Get Any Extra Certifications
Finally, you may contact the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to obtain any specialized certifications. A certification is not required, but will improve your employment opportunities.
Qualities Expected of a Good Doctor
Have a Professional Mannerism
Having a professional manner in which you keep patients confidentiality, treat all of them with respect and fairness will help you be a better doctor. The safer your patients feel around you, the more likely they are to recommend you to their friends.
Ability to Make Empathetic Connections
Studies have shown that patients who believe their doctor has truly connected with them and are interest in them will feel less pain and have a quicker recovery.
Doctors will see many patients, but taking time to actually get to know them and discuss their problems will help you connect with your patients.
Ability to Keep Current
Medicine practices are constantly changing and updating. It is vital that you are able to keep up to date with the latest, more improved researches and theories. Remember to be analytical about what you read and be discerning so you can best help your patients.
Able to Cope With Gruesome Situations
In the medical profession you work with the human body. You may even encounter some gruesome situations, being squeamish is not good. You need to be able to remain calm so that you can help the patient and their family.
Willingness to Work Hard
It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to become a doctor. Being a doctor also means that you may have to put in long hours while remaining diligent with your work.
- Visit your guidance counselor for information and resources that will help you get prepared.
- Talk to local medical practitioners about what it takes to be a doctor, benefits, and disadvantages. If you ask, some may allow you to shadow them during some of their tasks. Of course, client confidentiality is a must.
- Volunteer at the local hospital to practice building relationships with patients.
- Depending on the state, at the age of 16 you can become a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
- Take AP and advanced mathematics and science courses.
- Spend time researching the best college for the specialization you want to obtain. Then, do some research to learn what you need to accomplish to achieve that degree or certification.