Are you thinking of how to become a doctor in the USA in 2021? If yes, then continue reading this step by step guide to learn how you can achieve that dream.
Becoming a doctor in the USA take a long time to finally achieve but according to responses from several physicians practising in the US, it’s worth the wait. But this shouldn’t come as a surprise given that one of the best countries in the world would leave in your care the lives of its citizens.
The rigorous yet productive process involved in refining and screening doctors in the US would be examined in this article. All necessary exams you will need to take, certifications required, the costs, a step by step process guide to becoming a doctor in USA. And lots more are all detailed here, so stay tuned.
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- Steps to Becoming a Medical Doctor in USA
- Step 1 Complete your Undergraduate Degree
- Step 2 Take the MCAT Examination
- Step 3 Apply to a Medical School
- Step 4 Finish Training at a Medical School
- Step 5 Pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)
- Step 6 Match with a Residence Program
- Step 7 Do your Residency Program
- Step 8 Pass Part III of USMLE and Finish Residency
- Step 9 Earn Board Certifications
- Step 10 Get a License
- Step 12 Apply for Jobs
- Requirements to Become a Doctor in USA
- Medical Schools in the USA
- How to Become a Doctor in USA for Foreign Doctors
- How to become a doctor in US after MBBS
- Conclusion: How To Become A Doctor In The USA
- EDITORS RECOMMENDATION
Steps to Becoming a Medical Doctor in USA
As a starting point, we’ll outline a guide for you to better understand all there is to getting from your chair where you are right now to a hospital in the US as a doctor in a few years-time. As you’ll find out below, the competition is fierce to become a doctor in the US, and there are already a lot of doctors in the US currently.
However, speculations indicate that by 2025, they’ll be a massive shortage of doctors. So if you start picking the pieces together now, you may just be filling in this gap by then. By just following these steps:
Step 1 Complete your Undergraduate Degree
Medical school admissions boards require all the applicants to earn bachelor’s degrees from accredited colleges and universities. Although there is no specific recommended degree course to study, the College Boards usually lists pre-medicine, biology and exercise and science as potential majors. This means you can study any course you may wish but the aforementioned must be as majors during your college degree program.
Step 2 Take the MCAT Examination
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standard multiple-choice examination used by Medical School admission committees to assess a candidate’s likelihood of succeeding in the program they wish to study. It is written for about seven and a half hours so best be prepared. To move on you’ll have to register for, take and pass the examination. Most students take this exam in their college junior year.
Step 3 Apply to a Medical School
Of course, to become a doctor you’ll have attend a medical school. This is the point when you apply. There is no compulsory timeline to place your application for medical schools. Generally, students begin applications during summer after their junior year in college. To send in your application, you should know that most medical schools in the US use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), which is a centralized application processing service from the Association of American Medical Colleges. You should select your target medical school and submit a single application to AMCAS, which in turn forwards it to your institution.
Step 4 Finish Training at a Medical School
The medical school requires four years to complete, and this just begins your path to becoming a physician in the US. Note that this will be a full-time study after your undergraduate degree you got at a college or university. Training here is divided between classroom-based instruction in the science of your course and clinical rotations where students develop applied skills in various areas of medicine.
Step 5 Pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)
According to USMLE authorities, the exams are designed to test problem solving and not simple memorization. The USMLE is in three parts. While at med school you only take the Part l & ll. In order to practice medicine legally in the US, you must take the exam and obtain a passing score. This exam is taken during and after (for the third part) medical school. Before entering your third year, you’ll have to take and pass the first part which covers basic medical principles. During your fourth year, you take the second part covering clinical diagnosis and disease development.
Step 6 Match with a Residence Program
During your final year of medical school, you’ll be expected to make down your medical specification to options like pediatrics or anaesthesiology or a whole lot of others. Students will be required to submit an application for residency and are then matched to open residency programs throughout the country.
Step 7 Do your Residency Program
Upon graduation for a medical school you begin your residency. After you’ve been matched with a residency program, which usually takes at least three years to eight, depending on your specialty, to complete. Residency programs provide in-depth knowledge in your chosen specialty.
Step 8 Pass Part III of USMLE and Finish Residency
The part lll of USMLE covers clinical management and assessment of the doctor’s ability to practice medicine safety and effectively. This is the final stage of the residency process. Once you pass this final test, you finish up your residency program.
Step 9 Earn Board Certifications
Board certifications require a written or sometimes an oral examination. There are 24 specialty boards verifying physicians in hundreds of specialties and subspecialties in the US. Once your medical education is complete, the next step is to obtain a certification in your chosen specialty. This surely gives your career and medical repute a boost.
Step 10 Get a License
Every state in the US sets its own licensing requirements and procedures, as the medical licensing is conducted at the state level by state boards of medicine. After all your training, you must apply for a state medical licensing before entering your field to practice as a doctor in the state you got licensed.
Step 12 Apply for Jobs
The final step to becoming a doctor in USA is getting a job. Many doctors begin their search for jobs during their residency, add it is common for residents to transition into full time doctors. Others also venture into the open market to source for career openings. Whereas as some other physicians are contacted by recruiters to fill certain positions.
Requirements to Become a Doctor in USA
The academic standard set by the US for its physicians are somewhat different from what you’ll obtain in most other places in the world. There are some basic requirements to get your self started on this journey to become a doctor in USA.
- Have good high schools grades especially in math and science
- Take pre-med classes in college. Although, there no specific courses to offer as an undergrad, med schools in the US require that you take some subjects otherwise called pre-med classes like
- Freshman chemistry, Organic chemistry, Biology, Physics, all along with laboratory courses. English, Calculus including advanced math classes and statistics
- You will also need recommendations from lectures and professors who taught you at pre-med classes in college.
- Build an outstanding CV. You’ll need to demonstrate and convince the medical school admissions board that you are different than other candidates. Cite volunteer experiences in hospitals and or community service, attend pre-med camps, additional certifications and also be at balance with other non-curricula or science related activities.
- Exams like ACT, SAT, USMLE, MCAT are all very important to further your passion for becoming a medical doctor in the US. Acing these exams pave easy ways to keep forging ahead in your career path. They are usually stress packed and require you putting in a lot more effort than most others students. You may have to study more and for longer periods.
- Other requirements are official transcripts, personal statements and also have very good English language skills.
Medical Schools in the USA
There are tons of medical schools in the US, in fact, there are 172 medical schools to choose from. They offer both MD doctor of medicine and doctor of osteopathic medicine. Some of the highest ranking universities for medicine and research are
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- Johns Hopkins University
- University of California
- University of Pennsylvania
- Washington University in St Louis
- Yale University
- Columbia University
- Duke University
- University of Washington
Medical Courses for Doctors in USA
There are so many medical courses in USA to set a career path. The different courses come at slightly different training years, demand in society, pay levels and work load. Be sure to make good research on whichever you may likely choose. Here’s a brief list of some popular medical courses to consider.
- Emergency Medicine
- General Surgery
- Internal Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
Use the American Association of Medical Colleges’ website to help you with a more detailed list.
How Long Does it take to Become a Doctor in USA
Typically, aggregating all the years of study, beginning from college to when you’re finally certified and licensed to practice, doctors spend about 11 to 16 years in training. An undergraduate degree will take you 4 years and medical school will take another 4 years. A residency ranges from 3 to 8 years depending on what specialty you choose. So in all, it takes quite a good number of year. But it’ll all be worth it.
How to Become a Doctor in USA for Foreign Doctors
As a foreign physician, you may have gone through an exceptional amount of quality training overseas, the American medical regulations takes extra measures to confirm that foreign physicians looking to practice medicine in the US still go through the educational training that’s set by American standards.
So If you are a foreign doctor interested in practising medicine in the US, then you’ll need to prepare yourself to pass the US Medical Licensing Exams, get certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign-Trained Medical Graduates, enrol in a residency program, and then take a third licensing test.
The main cause for this is the difference in the American education standards for training physicians. In some countries abroad, the basic pre-med courses required by medical schools in the US are omitted and focus is placed on field study. But the American system requires that doctors are not only good in the field but also have accompanying knowledge of other aspects like chemistry physics, calculus, genetics, epidemiology and others.
So how can foreign doctors practice in the US?
As a requirement, foreign medical graduates and practising physicians have to obtain ECFMG certification to practice in the USA. But the following have to be checked first:
- Proof that the Foreign Medical Graduate (FMG) obtained a degree listed on the World Directory of Medical Schools
- Completing missing education requirements if any
- Medical Science Requirements – You must pass both the USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2
- Going through a residency program
- Obtaining final ECFMG certification Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) ECFMG certification is one of the eligibility requirements to take Step 3 of the USMLE, as well as to obtain a license to practice medicine in the U.S.
- After you receive ECFMG certification, you can begin with your residency in the US. But be sure to apply for your residency long before graduation and certification. The application process may take some time.
How to become a doctor in US after MBBS
How to become a doctor in USA after MBBS in India.
Unlike in many Asian countries, USA does not award MBBS degrees to students upon completion of undergrad studies. So a student after completion of MBBS cannot practice directly since the basic level of study to practice is postgrad (ie., med school). USMLE has clearly defined the medical courses after MBBS to be completed in USA.
In order to qualify for the Residency after MBBS, you will have to score very high in the above exams. The doctors can then apply for a work visa in USA once they get the residency confirmation.
MDs and DOs
In the US, there two different types of doctors. You can either be a doctor of medicine, MD, which is most common. Or a doctor of osteopathic medicine, DO. By their title, they can easily be distinguished, but what are the main differences in terms of practice?
MDs went to traditional (allopathic) med schools, while Dos went to osteopathic med schools. MDs generally focus on treating specific conditions with medication. DOs, on the other hand, tend to focus on whole-body healing, with or without traditional medication. They generally have a stronger holistic approach and have been trained with additional hours of hands-on techniques.
In the United States, there are far more MDs than DOs. However, more and more medical students are becoming DOs.
Are they trained differently?
Both DOs and MDs learn how to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases and injuries. As a result, they receive much of the same training, including:
Four years of medical school after earning a bachelor’s degree
A residency program lasting one to seven years after completing medical school.
DOs also must complete an additional 200 hours of coursework. Focusing more on bones, muscles, and nerves and how they affect the body’s overall health. In addition, DOs may take additional classes covering some alternative therapies.
Both types of doctors must pass a national test before becoming licensed to practice medicine. MDs must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). DOs must take the Comprehensive Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX), but they can choose to take the USMLE as well.
How much does it cost to become a doctor in USA
As you must have heard, schools in USA are very expensive. Considering medical courses come at high prices too. Tuition fees in some of the high ranking schools in the US range from $55, 000 to $61, 000. Not all medical schools are that expensive, however.
Public schools are generally cheaper than private schools. On an average, for undergrad studies, the medical fee is set at $33, 000 per year in a public school. And $53, 000 in private schools. It would cost around $200, 000 to enroll for the whole duration of your programme.
Texas A&M Health Science Center costs only $16,432 for in-state tuition. also, there are some other universities on the in-state tuition which have consistently maintained tuition less than $20,000 per year. If you, however, are not able to get in-state tuition in Texas, you may want to consider going to one of the most affordable private medical schools such as Baylor College of Medicine ($31,663 per year), Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine ($32,985 per year), or the University of Pikeville ($41,320 per year).
Conclusion: How To Become A Doctor In The USA
Becoming a doctor in the USA takes quite a long time, aside from the time taken, it also requires financial investments and a lot of efforts and determination from the individual, but the satisfaction doctors get from their job is nothing compared to the stress. Studying medicine in the USA is an experience you will love.
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