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Becoming a Doctor

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Becoming a Doctor

Many people think that becoming a doctor is difficult. Others have some sense that becoming a physician takes many years and is expensive. Most people realize that being a physician is difficult yet rewarding. All these people are correct. Becoming a physician is a long, arduous, expensive process that can only be accomplished with great dedication.

Before starting the process of becoming a physician (or any profession) you must do some honest soul searching. First of all you must be aware of the time commitment involved in becoming a physician. Medicine is a career that requires many years of preparation. Generally most people graduate college at age 22 and medical school at 26. Then after 3 years of internship and residency, many physicians begin their career at age 29. However, the training for some specialties can last until the physician's early to mid 30's. Obviously this can delay plans for marriage and starting a family. Some people begin their medical education after pursuing other careers, which can further delay the completion of their medical training. You must decide early on if you are willing to dedicate the time it takes to become a physician. As you can see, this is not a decision to be made lightly.

More importantly, you must decide if medicine is a field that is right for the kind of person you are. I believe that there are three cornerstones of a successful career in medicine:

„h A love for learning in general

„h A true intellectual curiosity about medicine in particular

„h A strong desire to help others.

Being smart and doing well in the sciences are obviously important components of being a successful physician. However, do not fall into a medical career because you have done well in the sciences. Although this is a necessary requirement, you must also be able to relate well with people.

As a physician you have an opportunity to help others. Wanting to help others and enjoying helping others are necessary attributes of a good physician. This is something that cannot be taught. However, there are many other professions that can help others. Politicians, religious leaders and social workers all have the opportunity to help others, perhaps in larger numbers.

Medicine is a career filled with choices. In what other career can you choose between delivering babies, taking care of children,...

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...al Colleges (AAMC) and The American Medical Association (AMA). Many states require only 1 year of training after medical school (internship) in an approved residency program as the bare minimum for obtaining a license. Residency programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) through the Residency Review Committees (RRC). You need to have passed one of several exams to prove that you are competent (such as the USMLE). Letters of reference are usually required. A check of your malpractice history will also be obtained. The rules for graduates of foreign medical schools are more complex and can be obtained from each state medical licensing board.

Becoming a board certified physician in a specialty involves the completion of a residency in a given specialty, then completing a comprehensive exam (often a written and oral exam). When you have satisfied the requirements of that particular board you are now Board certified and are called a Diplomate of that board (e.g. Diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine). There are 24 approved medical specialty boards in the U.S. Many boards require recertification every 7-10 years.
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