Hint: Years of schooling and a drive to succeed.
Included on this page is an overview of what high school students have to look forward to if they are interested in a career in healthcare.
In addition to becoming a physician, there are many different career paths in the medical field. Here is a sample list of those careers:
If you’re dead set on becoming a physician — and we could use more medical doctors, that’s for sure — there are a few important details that you’ll want to know.
First off, there are two main types degrees held by medical doctors: M.D. (doctor of medicine) degree or a D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degree. Both are practicing medical doctors. Those who are unfamiliar with osteopathic physicians can learn more about these doctors from the American Osteopathic Association.
The education of physicians in the United States is lengthy and involves undergraduate education, medical school (undergraduate medical education), and graduate medical education. The term “graduate medical education” includes residency and fellowship training.
Four years at a college or university to earn a BS or BA degree, usually with a strong emphasis on basic sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and physics (some students may enter medical school with other areas of emphasis).
Undergraduate medical education: Four years of education at one of the U.S. medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). After completing medical school, students earn their doctor of medicine degrees (MDs), although they must complete additional training before practicing on their own as a physician. (Note: Some physicians receive a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from a college of osteopathic medicine.)
Graduate medical education: Through a national matching program, newly graduated MDs enter into a residency program that is three to seven years or more of professional training under the supervision of senior physician educators. The length of residency training varies depending on the medical specialty chosen: family practice, internal medicine, and pediatrics, for example, require 3 years of training; general surgery requires 5 years.
Fellowship: One to three years of additional training in a subspecialty is an option for some doctors who want to become highly specialized in a particular field, such as gastroenterology, a subspecialty of internal medicine and of pediatrics, or child and adolescent psychiatry, a subspecialty of psychiatry.
While any undergraduate major is acceptable, you must fulfill the following requirements to prepare for medical school:
Some medical and other health professional schools also require some or all of the following courses:
Medical schools look at a number of factors when selecting their students: