Becoming a doctor requires hard work, costly education, and immeasurable amounts of focus and dedication. An aspiring physician will have to spend at least 11 years before getting a license. On the financial front, the average cost for a four-year medical course is at USD$330,180 in private schools, according to a 2020 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

For these reasons, individuals who wish to become one must prepare well and show commitment, being that it’s also highly challenging to get accepted into the medical program.

If the medical path resonates with you, consider these as the basic steps of becoming a doctor.

Step 1: Prepare Early

It’s crucial to start the pre-med student preparation early on to increase your chances of getting accepted into the medical program. Evaluators will assess your performance in high school, so make sure that your academic grades are impressive.

Your chances of getting accepted will boost significantly if you have above-average scores in math, biology, chemistry, and other Science subjects. In addition, exemplary Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and American College Test (ACT) scores can help you get into a prestigious university for your pre-med course.

Step 2: Get Accepted In A Reputable University For Your Pre-Med Course

As with other types of college applications, you’d have to possess a high-grade point average (GPA) and SAT scores if you want to get noticed. For instance, Ivy League schools require a powerful recommendation letter and a well-written personal essay before considering your university application requirements.

Nevertheless, whatever school you choose, research and ask their alumni about the program so you get an idea of the quality of education you will get.

Step 3: Check And Comply With All Pre-Med Requirements

Some medical schools don’t have stringent requirements requiring applicants to take a pre-med program before getting accepted. However, it helps to choose universities with reputable science and math programs or take medical-related majors, most notably biology, chemistry, medical technology, physical therapy, to name a few.

Suppose you took a non-medical course in college, you might be required to earn additional science units, including calculus, before getting accepted or taking the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT—which serves as an entrance exam to medical school.

Step 4: Take And Pass The MCAT

The MCAT measures an applicant’s preparedness for medical school. It’s crucial to ace this test because medical schools give weight to MCAT scores in the screening process. This evaluation exam focuses on science subjects such as biology, chemistry, and evaluates your critical analysis and reasoning skills. According to Princeton review, getting about 510 points puts one in the “safe zone,” alongside a GPA of 3.71. After taking the MCAT, your scores will be forwarded to the American Medical College Application Service—the centralized application service for aspiring first-year students.

Step 5: Apply And Get Into Your Preferred Medical School

Medical school application is time-consuming and rigorous. That’s why some university students start working on their admission in their junior year. Suppose you want to streamline the process, research online, or download practical applications to help you choose the best medical school. One of the ways to increase your chances of getting accepted, apart from having impressive scores and GPAs, is to apply to as many schools as you can, even out-of-state.

Step 6: Spend 4 Years In Medical School And Pass The USMLE 1 and 2

If you’re finally admitted to medical school, do your best to perform well academically and make sure you absorb knowledge in and outside of the classroom.
After your second year at med school, take the United States Medical Licensing Examination USMLE-1, which evaluates your competency to continue your education.

The third-year will be more hands-on, and you’ll work in a hospital under the supervision of a licensed physician.
Senior med students will take elective courses to pursue their chosen area of specialization. Graduating students will take USMLE-2, which, as expected, is more rigid than the first test as it will measure your ability to apply the essential knowledge and skills for patient care. USMLE-2 is also part of the residency program application.

Step 7: Complete A Three-Year Medical Internship And Pass USMLE 3

After graduation, doctors will have to spend at least three years pursuing an internship or residency program. During these years, you’ll be getting trained according to your chosen speciality. It’s also during residency, where doctors will take the USMLE-3, which prepares them for their future practice.

Step 8: Obtain Board Certifications And A State License

After passing the final licensing exam and completing the medical internship, a doctor can now practice independently and without the intense supervision of a consultant. It’ll be up to you to choose which settings you wish to work in.

While working, you can take a board certification based on your chosen field. Once you’ve earned them, you can now get your state license.

Additionally, you’ll have to update your skills and knowledge by getting continuing medical education.

Final Thoughts

An aspiring doctor will have to spend a lot of time and money on education before being allowed to practice. But nothing is impossible with proper preparation and steadfast commitment. If you want to become a doctor, study the points discussed above, work hard in school, and never give up on your dream.