How Long Does It Take To Become A Medical Doctor?

Last updated Mar 2, 2021 | Published on Mar 2, 2021

Doctors also referred to as physicians, are the healthcare providers who diagnose and treat patients. That’s the easiest definition for defining the doctor’s responsibility. They are the most hard-working professional whose main job is to look after people who require care and treatment, which involves great humility with even more risks. To reach that level of abundant specialty, one has to strive for around 11 or more years after undergraduate education, depending upon the specialization. A doctor must have very strong interpersonal skills, time management strategies, immense focus and stability, and remarkable technical qualities for a thriving career.

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The timeline varies and can be pretty daunting, which comprises of medical school, residency, and a few more to specialize in a stream with the fellowship, which implies that the majority of independent physicians takes around 11 to 15 years or say until they are in their mid-30s if they enter into medical school around the age of 22 to 24 years.

The time more or less also depends upon the choice of specialty, which is directly proportional to the residency program. It is a full-time educational profession and requires a certain amount of dedicated time towards the profession.

An aspirant requires to complete a college bachelor’s degree or equivalent that takes around four years, specializing in biology, chemistry as the most popular choice in a science subject.

After completing the bachelor’s, one needs to enroll in medical school. There are certain requirements to qualify for medical school, which is as mentioned below:

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 in the undergraduate program
  • A fair score in TOEFL
  • Letters of recommendations
  • There is a minimum MCAT score set by different universities for admissions. One must choose the medical school and prepare for the MCAT accordingly, and better exam results will allow you to get admissions to a reputed medical school.

MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) consists of multiple-choice questions conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The majority of colleges require the applicants to submit their MCAT scores while applying. The exam takes approximately 7½ hours and comprises of four main parts:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

There are additional requirements by some other American medical schools such as:

  • Biology as the main subject with laboratory, one year
  • Chemistry with laboratory, one year
  • Biology and chemistry for a minimum of 24 semester hours in the areas of humanities
  • Mathematics that includes calculus and statistics, one year or 6-8 semester hours
  • General college physics with the laboratory for one year or eight semester hours

Becoming A Doctor In The United States

With advanced learning and developing interpersonal skills during four years of medical school, students choose their specialization eliciting their interest in the same. They would need to apply for the residency programs.

During the residency, the medical graduates also train in hospitals with and under other practitioners. The time duration varies between 3 and 7 years, depending on the choice of specialization. After that, the residents may or may not take their fellowship for sub-specialization and further independent practice. The fellowship itself takes around 1 to 2 years. They are trained under the supervision of other physicians and train as a consultant or attending physician.

Further, to practice medicine, the physicians have to be licensed by their state where they want to work. The majority of fellowships in the USA are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Moreover, most licenses and certifications also need education credits by continued learning, varying by state and licenses. This education could be in the form of seminars, conferences, and classes.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Family Physician?

Family physicians provide primary health care for patients of all ages ranging from infants, kids to the elderly. They are trained to treat a variety of common ailments and injuries. They can advise if the patient needs to consult a surgeon or specialist for advanced treatment. They also counsel their patients on the importance of prevention, healthy diet, prescribing medicines, and administering vaccinations.

Aspiring family doctors must continue with their residency training consisting of three years of practice in diagnosing and treatment under the guidance of established doctors. Family medicine residency programs complete clinical rotations in the areas that include critical care, dermatology, pediatrics, cardiology, and sports medicine, including other didactic learning through seminars or conferences.

Obtaining a medical license is part of the requirement that varies in different states. After graduating in the medical program from an accredited medical college, residency and passing licensing exams are certain testing requirements. Students would need to apply and interview for the residency program placement during the final year of medical school. Most residency programs in the United States process the application by entering into a nationwide search and accrediting the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). It requires three years of training, whereas some residency programs offer a four-year training plan. Then others combine family medicine training with another different specialty, like psychiatry, which requires five years.

Different state has different certification requirements for their initial medical licensure to become a board-certified family physician. They must pass step 3 of the USMLE or level 3 of the COMLEX-USA. Residents for family physicians must meet the ACGME program requirements and obtain their board certification from the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians (AOBFP) or the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), meeting the eligibility requirements for the same. They also have to update continuing education requirements for re-certification as there are certain time limits too.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Pediatrician?

Pediatricians provide medical care to infants, children, teenagers, and young adults under 18. Their specialization involves diagnosing and treating younger people specifically.

To become a Pediatrician, the aspirant will have to complete their bachelor’s degree and graduate medical school. After this, one should undergo a residency program in pediatrics for three years and then get through rigorous exams conducted by the American Board of Pediatrics to become a board-certified pediatrician.

Suppose the student chooses to sub-specialize in the field, they have to go through more testing stages that would include MCAT, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Parts I, II, III either during or after medical school, the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), Certification Examination to become a Board-Certified Pediatrician.

Coat-Tailing with a Pediatrician can add to the field’s exposure, which a candidate can also begin even before medical school training. The internship will determine whether or not the candidate’s personality is suited to the career and duties. Around 12+4+4+3 years of training are involved in this career, which is the same as the others discussed above.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Dermatologist?

Dermatology is a study in which a candidate specializes in diagnosing and treating skin disorders, along with hair, nails, and mucous membranes. Their services extend to treatment for acne, skin infections, genetic disorders, other cosmetic issues such as skin cancer, scars, hair loss, removal of the tattoo, and skin aging.

After completing medical school, graduates will need to enroll in the residency program for dermatology. Aspirants can also enroll while in medical school, which would help fasten the completion time. The residency program will take four years for completion, which are matched through the National Resident Matching Program for their residency, and scoring high in the last two USMLE will be added advantage since dermatology is a highly competitive field. The residents then learn to diagnose and treat skin, hair, and nail conditions. Their practice may also include surgical techniques related to their field. After completing the residency program, the dermatologists can also apply for the fellowship program in the specific field.

A physician requires a license in any particular state to practice. In some states, the requirements may differ, but mostly they would require completion of the residency program. Dermatologists also would require the state license alongside passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). In addition to the state medical licensure, dermatologists can also volunteer for board certification, which is optional, but demonstrate the profession’s commitment. They have to clear a standard American Board of Dermatology (ABOD) exam. They can earn a fellowship certificate which would need revival every ten years, and the dermatologists will be identified as Fellow of the American Board of Dermatology (FABD).

How Long Does It Take To Become A Naturopathic Doctor?

A majority of naturopathic physicians pursue a Doctoral Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine or a related field. In addition to the medical curriculum, schools require their graduates to complete four years of training. They are trained extensively in clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, IV nutritional therapies, physical medicine, and counseling. Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) are licensed physicians whose practice involves integrating the benefits of conventional medicine with complementary botanical, homeopathic, and nutritional therapies. The Naturopathic medical school imparts education on biomedical courses like histology, pharmacology, anatomy, biochemistry, and pathology. They help their patients recover from their health issues through alternative and conventional treatments while preparing them for a healthier future.

The time required for the complete education of the subject requires a minimum of 7 years of post-secondary education. After completing the bachelor’s degree, Naturopathic Doctors enroll for four years of post-graduation at their respective medical schools. All the naturopathic medical schools have to be recognized by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) and accredited by the US Department of Education. Students must pass the licensing exams to become registered practitioners. They can obtain their license upon graduating from a four-year accredited institution. They can also choose to train and then practice as doctors for primary care by taking Medical Board Certification Exams. Though this is not usually seen, there remains a possibility. Thus, graduating and completing NPLEX board exams provides the eligibility to be licensed as a Naturopathic Doctor. Some also may go for the residencies, but that is optional except for Utah.

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