American doctors are among some of the highest-paid healthcare professionals in the world, so it comes as no surprise that people from all over the planet study, work hard, and obtain their license to practice within the US. There are several steps involved in becoming a doctor in the United States and understanding them can help you make better decisions about your chosen career path.
#1 – Earn Your Undergraduate Degree & Prepare for Medical School
The very first thing you need to do to become a doctor in the US is earn your bachelor’s degree. Though the major you choose is not really important at this point, remember that you will need to complete courses in biology, chemistry, math, and physics before you can gain entry into medical school. Once you earn your bachelor’s degree, you will need to take and pass the MCAT exam, which stands for Medical College Admissions Test. Almost every medical school in the country requires you to not only pass the exam, but also score highly on it. The most prestigious schools in the nation require incredibly high scores.
#2 – Get Your Medical Degree
Medical school is tough, and programs typically last about four years. You’ll spend the first two years in a classroom setting and the last two working with patients under the supervision of an experienced doctor. American medical students find their studies quite stressful, but fortunately, there are ways to simplify things. Keeping healthy, utilizing proven study methods, and getting enough rest will go a long way toward helping you to earn your degree.
#3 – Complete a Residency
After you’ve graduated from medical school, you will be required to complete a residency program to prove your competency to work as a physician in the US. During your residency, you will work in a variety of specialty settings, including things like obstetrics, pediatrics, and even surgery. During this time, you will be responsible for patient care, and depending on the year of your residency, you may or may not work under the direct supervision of a doctor. Residency programs last four years, and you will complete this part of your education in a hospital setting.
#4 – Get Your Medical License
Finally, in order to work as a physician in the US after you complete your residency, you will need to obtain a license, and in order to get the license, you will need to take the USMLE licensing exam. In order to qualify for the exam, you will need to complete medical school and your residency program beforehand, and you will need to pass any exams that come alongside this residency, too. The USMLE is a three-step exam, and you must pass each step-in order to move on to the next. Scores here are not important; this is a pass-or-fail type of examination.
Once you obtain your license, you can seek employment in a hospital or clinic, or if you prefer, you can even start your own practice. You may also choose to seek certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in a specific area of medicine in order to further your career as a physician.