Becoming a doctor is a long, complicated process. Because you are responsible for your patients’ health and well-being, you have to prove yourself to be competent and qualified. It takes many years of studying and practicing under supervision to make sure that any mistakes you make do not negatively impact patients. The following are not all the steps to becoming a doctor, but they are the most important.
1. Go To Medical School
Even this first step involves lots of smaller steps. To be a doctor, you have to have a strong grounding in life sciences. Therefore, med schools require that students wishing to attend meet minimum academic requirements for admission. Majoring in pre-med should cover your bases, but if you major in a field such as biology, you may still qualify. Additionally, you also typically have to take and pass the Medical College Admission Test to demonstrate the necessary content knowledge to attend medical school.
2. Take the United States Medical Licensing Examination
It is illegal to practice medicine without a license, so you will take steps to receive your license while you are still in med school. If you intend to become a medical doctor, you will take the USMLE. Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine take a different exam. A USMLE prep course online can help you pass.
3. Complete Your Residency
It takes several years after medical school before you can practice medicine on your own. This period is your residency, during which you will practice under the supervision of a qualified physician. Residency can take at least three but sometimes up to seven years.
You take your licensing exam in multiple parts. With the USMLE, the first two parts are taken while you are still a med student, but you wait to do the third part until you are in your residency. Once you pass, you receive your medical license and are qualified to practice medicine once you complete your residency.