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Physician

A tough, but incredibly rewarding field of work, the medical field is constantly developing and working towards improvement. In order to become a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) or doctor of medicine (M.D.), there is a specific pathway one must follow in order to meet the requirements.

To become a physician, one can begin to prepare their selves as early as high school though there is no time limit for beginning the process. In high school, it is recommended that students take advanced science courses, as it will help them in developing a solid background for undergraduate science courses. Many

Premedical study is an umbrella term for taking the courses required for entrance to medical school. A degree is not necessary for entrance to medical school; however, medical schools do not all have the same requirements so a bachelor degree may be required for some schools. It is necessary to take a series of science courses as well as some humanities and English. A general approximation of required courses for entrance to medical schools is about one year of inorganic (general) chemistry with lab, one year of organic chemistry with lab, one year of biology, one year of physics, and proof of English proficiency or about one year of college level English. Most bachelor degrees in biological or chemical sciences require these courses in order to obtain the degree, which is one reason why many medical school applicants hold a degree in the sciences. Like all graduate study programs a proficiency test is along with the courses is required.

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is to premedical students as the SAT or ACT is to high school students. It is a four and a half hour test that includes the following sections: physical sciences, verbal reasoning, and biological sciences. This will change in 2015 to add on a psychology section as well as extra time allotted for the section. The MCAT is scored out of 36 and may be taken a total of three times; however, it is important to do well because a score of 25 or more is considered competitive. Premedical students usually take the test in their junior year in order to leave room for more test dates and to finish the courses that include material on the test. The price per test is about $200 but can increase depending on how late the student signs up. The price can also be decreased depending on how the amount financial aid qualified for the student. There is also financial aid available for application fees and tuition fees.

There exist two types of medical schools, allopathic and osteopathic. Both schools lead to becoming a physician. More similar than not, there are still some differences in the philosophy, curriculum, and the title held. The title held by graduates of osteopathic medical schools is doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) and the title held by graduates of allopathic medical schools is medical doctor (M.D.). Both study for four years with an additional year of internship and two or more years of residency (hands on training in specialty areas of medicine). The osteopathic view of medicine is more holistic and naturalistic while the allopathic view of medicine is more system based. Osteopathic medicine also includes neuromusculo-skeletal manipulation into the curriculum. In the end, both take the same standardized exams and qualify for the same positions. Osteopathic schools tend to accept students with a lower average GPA and MCAT allopathic schools. The price of tuition tends to rise with private schools vs. public schools though there also exists more financial aid. Some of the most prestigious schools include Harvard, Stanford, and John Hopkins. These tend to accept students with 3.7+ GPA and 30+ MCAT scores, while there are schools much less prestigious such as some Caribbean medical schools that accept students with 3.0 GPA and 20 MCAT scores. Once one has attended and graduated medical school, they are considered a doctor and are honored with the title of M.D. or D.O. at the end of their name; however, they are not yet a licensed physician.

To become a physician, a doctor must be accepted to and complete one year of internship and pass a medical board examination. Though the training does not stop there, these physicians are able to legally practice medicine. In order to specialize in the various types of medical practice, physicians must attend and complete a residency program that takes two or more years depending on the specialty. This stage is where a physician becomes a surgeon, psychiatrist, pediatrician, etc. After completing residency and passing a medical board examination, the physicians are now considered fellows.

This rigid hierarchy is necessary in order to insure that the ethics of practicing medicine are upheld and physicians are fully capable of performing the tasks necessary.

The career pathway towards becoming a physician, though a demanding one with strict requirement, provides the opportunity to develop oneself to be qualified and capable of directly affecting the well being of those around them. It is not a pathway for everyone, but few who complete it would change their career choice in hindsight.

Requirements for medical school:

  • 3.0 GPA
  • 22 MCAT
  • Letters of Recommendation