Medical Doctor - How to Become a Medical Doctor

Medical Doctor

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Medical Doctor Job Description

 

Medical doctors, also known as allopathic physicians, take a biological approach to healing and are the most familiar type of doctor to people in this country. Most complete at least four years of undergraduate, followed by for years of medical school, and an additional residency program. Some require a fellowship on top of the aforementioned requirements, adding another 1 - 3 years.

If you hold a medical degree, there is a high demand for your job skills in many areas. Physicians may work in general or family practice as well as a variety of specialties.

These speciality areas include:

  • Anesthesiology

  • Family & General Medicine

  • General Pediatrics & Internal Medicine

  • Psychiatry

  • Obstetrics

  • Gynecology

  • Surgery

From private practice to hospitals to independent clinics, physicians are in huge demand across the country. Becoming a doctor takes dedication and a high level of ambition, but it's an investment that is sure to pay off in the long run. 

Continue to learn about responsibilities, skills needed, how to become an Allopathic Physician (M.D.), the MCAT, licensing requirements, and residencies. 

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Responsibilities

 

Physicians work with patients to educate them about their illnesses, injuries, health conditions and preventative measures such as diet, fitness and smoking cessation. They also teach and work as administrators at medical centers and engage in medical research.

A medical doctor's responsibilities include:

  • Diagnosing diseases, illnesses, and/or conditions

  • Assessing the need for therapies and/or medicines and prescribing them

  • Providing information to patients and families regarding diagnosis and treatment goals

  • Monitoring patient progress and response to therapies and/or treatments 

  • Maintaining patient records and accurate information

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Skills

 

Medical doctors require a high level of science acumen. Aspiring physicians should focus on the human sciences during their undergraduate career, including biochemistry, biology, and anatomy, as they serve as the foundation to a full understanding of diagnosis and treatment. 

Beyond a comprehensive understanding of science, a physician must possess highly developed communications and patient care skills. Doctors often work with patients from all walks of life, and being able to sensitively and effectively communicate with anyone is fundamental to a successful career, as found in a recent study by the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. 

Confidence, empathy, respectfulness, and thoroughness all fall under patient care skills. While patients want a physician who can accurately and knowledgeably diagnose and treat their illness, they also want one who exhibits the aforementioned personality traits.

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Working Conditions

 

Positions for physicians are available in a variety of health care settings. A physician may elect to set up a private practice, either alone or as part of a larger medical practice group. Others choose to work in medical centers and hospitals, universities and other public agencies.

Medical schools are working to increase their enrollments as a looming doctor shortage is expected in all geographic regions and areas of the profession. It is likely that physicians in the future will work fewer hours, which means lower earnings but they should be able to retire earlier. Low-income areas and rural regions will hold the greatest employment opportunities.

JAMA, the prestigious professional journal of the American Medical Association (AMA), is a major source for employment opportunities. The website for the AMA is part of an active network that helps physicians find the right job for them, in the right location and environment.

 


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How to Become a Medical Doctor:

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

Aspiring family physicians must first complete a bachelor's degree program in order to continue on to medical school. Traditionally, premed programs offered by nearly all major universities, but are not necessarily required to enter medical school. Programs that emphasize science, such as biology, physics, or physiology, may also be sufficient as medical school qualifications. However, those that are certain they want to enter this, or any other, medical profession should pursue a premed program.

 

The preparation timeline below offers an example premed curriculum: 

 

Grade Level Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • Health Care Systems
  • Biology I & Lab
  • Biology II & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • Chemistry I & Lab
  • Chemistry II & Lab
  • English I
  • Psychology 
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives

Sophomore Year

  • Public Health
  • Anatomy & Physiology I & Lab
  • Anatomy & Physiology II & Lab
  • Statistics
  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Basic Skills for Healthcare
  • Nutrition
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Healthcare Communication
  • Healthcare Professional Writing
  • Genetics & Microbiology I & Lab
  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab
  • Problems in Healthcare
  • Healthcare Research
  • Biochemistry I & Lab
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Health in the US
  • Health Education and Planning
  • Healthcare Management
  • Health Policy
  • Capstone
  • Remaining Requirements
  • Remaining Electives

 

2. Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

 

To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.

 

The MCAT is divided into four sections:

 

Section/Category  Section Breakdown
Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics

Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior

  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology
Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills
  • 53 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes
  • Tests reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences

 

You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the AAMC website here.

 

3. Earn a Medical Degree (4 Years)

 

A list of accredited medical education programs is available through the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). For more information and advice on successfully getting into medical school, you can check with the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Medical school consists of four years of studying the basics in science and participating in clinical “rotations.” These are hands-on clinical experiences in real health care settings. In most med schools, the first two years are taken up with classroom studies before students are assigned to do rotations. The current trend, however, finds a number of medical schools exposing students to early clinical experiences that continue throughout the four-year program.

Most medical schools base their curriculum on a system-based approach that focuses on one physiological system at a time, such as the respiratory system or the nervous system. Still others may use a case-based curriculum that teaches about the human body’s normal functioning and disease processes by assigning students to following individual patient cases from start to finish. Still other med schools use a combination of these approaches to educate their students.

The most common lines of coursework among medical schools consist of the following subjects:

  • Anatomy

  • Biochemistry

  • Ethics

  • Pharmacology

  • Physiology

  • Psychology

During the last two years of schooling, students are required to obtain hands-on experience at hospitals and clinics, learning to diagnose and treat patients while working under the supervision of licensed physicians.

Upon completion of four years of med school, a student is awarded a medical degree, or M.D. Another popular trend is for schools to offer combination degree programs, such as MD/MPH, MD/PHD or MD/JD. The AAMC’s website on Medical School Admission Requirements offers more information on this option.

 

The preparation timeline below provides an example medical school curriculum:

 

Year Example Courses

Year 1

 

  • Cells and Tissues
  • Molecular Foundations of Medicine
  • Applied Biochemistry 
  • Genetics
  • Disease Mechanisms & Development
  • Cardiac Life Support
  • The Nervous System
  • Immunology
  • Gross Anatomy of Head & Neck
  • Microbiology
  • Pulmonary System
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Microbiology

Year 2

  • Renal/Genitourinary System
  • Gastrointestinal System
  • Skin/Endocrine Systems
  • Reproduction & Women's Health
  • Microbiology
  • Behavior & the Brain
  • Hematology
  • Systemic Diseases
  • Microbiology
  • Clinical Clerkship

Year 3, 4, 5

 

  • Internal Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Surgery
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Family Medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Critical Care
  • Ambulatory Med
  • Research, Reflections and Advances in Patient Care

 

4. Pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE)

 

Every state requires physicians to pass a national, standardized exam. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so contact your state's medical board for specific requirements.

For an aspiring Allopathic Physician (M.D.), the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is required. The USMLE is sponsored by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States (FSMB). Aspiring physicians can find sample questions, tutorials, and other study materials on the USMLE website. This exam has a limit of 6 attempts, and they may not be retaken to improve scores.

 

5. Complete a Residency (3 - 4 Years)

 

After completing med school, you aren’t finished yet. Now it’s time to choose your specialty and complete your residency. These residency programs are offered in conjunction with intensive clinical training experiences. Depending on the specialty, residency can last from three to eight years.

The American Medical Association’s online FREIDA service is an interactive database of over 9,400 graduate medical education programs. These programs are all accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. There is also information on over 200 combined specialty programs.

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.05.2016
Medical Degree The Medical Doctor provides medical care for patients and oversees all aspects of patient care. The Medical Doctor demonstrates the knowledge and skills necessary to provide care appropriate to the age of the patients served by...
12.05.2016
POSITION SUMMARY Perform examinations, diagnose illnesses, and treat people suffering from injury or disease. Advise patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive health care. POSITION QUALIFICATIONS Education: Medical Doctor from an accredited...
12.05.2016
- Appropriate licensure is required - Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required - Experience is required VCU Health System's Performance Improvement department...
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    Medical Degree The Medical Doctor provides medical care for patients and oversees all aspects of patient care. The Medical Doctor demonstrates the knowledge and skills necessary to provide care appropriate to the age of the patients served by...
  2. Physician Jackson, MS Baptist Health Systems
    POSITION SUMMARY Perform examinations, diagnose illnesses, and treat people suffering from injury or disease. Advise patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive health care. POSITION QUALIFICATIONS Education: Medical Doctor from an accredited...
  3. Physician Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    - Appropriate licensure is required - Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required - Experience is required VCU Health System's Performance Improvement department...