Becoming a doctor can be a gratifying and fulfilling career. The satisfactional felt after changing or saving a patient’s life is something many medical professionals cannot put to words. And, of course, serving as a doctor comes with its financial benefits as well.
But the medical field isn’t for everyone; it requires stamina, focus, and mental and emotional fortitude. Plus, the training and schooling required to become a doctor consume years of your life. If you’re considering attending medical school, you need to understand the long-term commitment that the profession requires, beginning with your undergraduate education.
While colleges don’t offer pre-med studies as a major, college and career counselors can help you choose the right path of study to improve your odds of med school acceptance. Many students on the pre-med track major in biology, biochemistry, neurobiology, microbiology, and chemistry. What matters is that you have a four-year degree and take the courses required for med school admissions, which typically include:
- Organic chemistry
Getting Into Med School
It’s no secret that medical school admission is extremely competitive. You’ll need stellar grades, excellent interviewing skills, meaningful experiences, strong letters of recommendation, a powerful personal statement, and a high score on the MCAT. To improve your odds of acceptance, you can:
- Get Some Medical Experience- Having medical experience on your resume can maximize your chances of getting into a reputable medical school. Start spending time with professionals in your ideal field or practice and see if you can volunteer or assist them in any way.
- Conduct Research- If there is something that can shine through on a med school application, it’s research experience. Spend time in the lab learning from your seniors and mentors and get your name on as many publications and presentations as possible.
- Get Serious About MCAT Prep- To draw eyes to the rest of your med school application, you’ll need an impressive MCAT score. Ensuring the best possible score requires months of studying. Preparing to take the AAMC MCAT should include comprehensive content reviews, reviewing past MCAT questions, completing full-length practice tests, and simulating the time constraints of the actual exam.
Med School Life
The first year of your med school can be challenging, given the coursework load. Add to that the stress of moving to a new town or city, away from your loved ones. Nevertheless, if you plan and prioritize your time, you can still have a social life.
As much as possible, try and get some support from your classmates and upperclassman friends. Talk to them about your challenges and get their suggestions on how to deal with them. Find out what mistakes they made and keep them in mind not to repeat their mistakes.
Medicine being a dynamic field, the environment in a medical college can be demanding and ever-changing. You will have to find a balance if you want to cut down the stress and maintain your physical and mental health.
Be a part of a study group to cover course material and interact with people. Establish a schedule with some healthy eating and exercising. Take part in activities that you love, and, most importantly, make sure you get adequate sleep.
Rotations, Examinations, and Residency Interviews
During medical school, you’ll complete clinical rotations. These opportunities will provide insight into the day-to-day lives of working medical professionals, give you hands-on experience, and help you choose your specialization. Most medical schools require rotations in at least internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine, radiology, and neurology.
Furthermore, med school students need to take a series of three tests called the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) to secure a license to practice medicine. Students take step one during their second year of medical school, step two during their third or fourth year of medical school, and step three during their first or second year of residency.
As the four years of med school draw to a close, students have to apply and interview for their residency and match into a program. At this point, you have to choose your specialty.
Once you get into residency, you are no longer in the backseat. You will be acting as a doctor but with supervision. This is when you will start learning medicine through mentorship and experience.
Medical residency can last anywhere from three to seven years, depending on the specialty you have chosen. Suppose the area of medicine you have chosen is highly specialized, such as reconstructive surgery, female pelvic medicine, or pediatric radiology. In that case, you may also have to complete some fellowship training apart from your residency.
The stipend you get as a resident might vary depending upon your experience, specialty, and location. However, you may be eligible for many benefits, such as health insurance, paid-time-off, free parking, and meals.
With residency completed and the USMLE passed, you’ll be ready to practice medicine on your own. Through the journey to become a doctor is long and grueling, you’ll reap the rewards of your hard work through the lives you change, discoveries you make, or groundbreaking research you conduct.