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There are more than 140 US medical schools that award MD graduates. These schools train students in allopathic medicine. (A smaller number of schools train students in osteopathic medicine and recognize DO graduates). Allopathic schools train the doctors of tomorrow according to a common (and rigorous!) core curriculum. But beyond that core, no two schools are exactly the same. Each offers its own unique academic focus, teaching methods and research opportunities.
Medical school takes 4 years to complete, but you also need 3-7 years of residency to become a doctor.
The first two years of medical school are a combination of classroom and laboratory time. Students take courses in basic sciences such as anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, and pharmacology. They will also learn the basics of interviewing and examining a patient.
Traditionally, students take four or five courses from different disciplines at the same time. However, some schools focus on one subject for a shorter period of time (eg three or four weeks) and then move on to another. Other schools take an interdisciplinary approach to preclinical courses, with each class focusing on one organ and examining all the anatomy, pharmacology, pathology, and behavior related to that system. At the end of your second year, you will take the USMLE Step 1.
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Third- and fourth-year medical students complete rotations at hospitals and clinics affiliated with their school and complete (and pass) USMLE Step 2. Rotating students assist residents in a specific specialty, such as surgery, pediatrics, internal medicine, or psychiatry. During this time, you’ll probably feel like a cross between an insignificant grunt and a talented disciple. You will interact with patients and perform basic medical tasks as well as tasks that assistants are not willing to do.
Some rotations, such as internal medicine, are required in all programs, while others have more specific internship requirements. The length of time you spend on rotation depends on the hospital’s focus or strength. At some schools, surgeon rotations last three weeks; in others it is three months. The nature of the hospital will also give you color. If the setting is urban, you can expect increased experience with trauma, emergency medicine, or infectious diseases, as well as exposure to a diverse patient population.
Clinical rotations will not give you enough expertise to practice in any particular area of expertise (that’s what specializations are for). They will provide you with broad knowledge and help you evaluate potential career paths.
You can train to become a primary care doctor at any medical school. But programs that emphasize primary care tend to include more patient contact, patient care courses, and longer clinical rotations in general areas. Many are actively involved in their surrounding communities and offer volunteer opportunities in clinical care for underprivileged populations.
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If you want to pursue a career in academic medicine or biomedical research, you should look for schools with strong research programs. You won’t have the same opportunities, facilities, mentors, or funding at a school that focuses on training primary care physicians.
If you want to supplement your MD with advanced courses in another field, some schools (especially those affiliated with a larger university) allow students to enroll in courses in other departments. Many also offer combined degree programs.
Medical students who make it through all four years (and don’t worry, many do) become proud MD holders. But your education doesn’t end there. You still have to pass a board exam and spend three to seven years as a resident at a teaching hospital.
Our admissions experts know what it takes to get into medical school. Get the customized strategy and guidance you need to help you achieve your goals.
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Visit our Med School Hub to explore medical schools using our filtered “Find Your Medical School” search, or visit our Med School Recommendation pages for information on scoring well on the MCAT or preparing interview questions. If you want to become a doctor in the United States, you will need to complete a four-year undergraduate program and then attend medical school for four years. After graduating from medical school, you will be required to attend a residency program. You can be assigned to a residency program through ERAS. Most graduates spend three to seven years in residency, depending on their medical specialty. After completing the entire training and residency program, you will need to pass the licensing exam in the state in which you wish to practice medicine.
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Generally, this means about 10 to 14 years to build a career as a doctor. Now let’s talk about whether it is possible to shorten the medical school timeline.
Based on the above information and timeline, it takes an average of twelve years to become a practicing medical professional. This figure assumes that your stay lasts four years. Assuming the average pre-med student is eighteen years old when they begin their undergraduate program, they will be 30 years old when they complete their training, residency, and licensing exams. This is the average age, but many pre-med students want to know if there is a way to shorten the timeline and become a licensed physician before the age of 30.
It is possible to achieve all this before the age of thirty, but it is extremely difficult. Here are some things you can do to become a doctor before you turn 30.
Becoming a doctor before the age of thirty is not easy, but it can be done. Now let’s see what steps you need to take to get the most direct path to medical practice.
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The path to becoming a licensed physician involves several important steps that everyone must complete. In order to get on the fastest track to becoming a doctor, you need to make some important decisions from an early age.
The table below shows the basic steps required to become a doctor and what can be done to speed up each stage of the process.
Like other professional schools in the United States, medical schools require applicants to complete a bachelor’s degree before applying. On average, a bachelor’s program lasts four years, and most potential medical school students are already preparing during this time.
Although medical schools do not require candidates to study science, there is a list of prerequisites that include science courses.
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You should also try to take mandatory medical school extracurriculars during your prep years. These are the activities and experiences that will help you stand out among other medical school applicants. When reviewing your medical school resume, focus on extracurricular activities that will attract the attention of medical school committees.
Your preparation to become a doctor begins long before you earn your bachelor’s degree. Your undergraduate years are essential for gaining experience in a clinical setting, shadowing physicians, serving your community, participating in research, and participating in pre-med shadowing training programs abroad. These experiences will help you gain the skills needed to become a successful physician.
Before you take the next step after college, you’ll need to apply to medical school, prepare for interviews, and, if necessary, take the MCAT and CASPer exam.
For those asking “how long is medical school?”, the simple answer is four years, but there is much more to medical school. The Faculty of Medicine is divided into stages. The first two years of medical school are known as the pre-clinical or pre-internship phase and include mostly coursework. During these years, you will develop clinical and scientific skills in the classroom.
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After completing the first two years of medical school, you will take the USMLE Step 1. This is a one-day exam designed to assess your understanding of the principles and mechanisms of disease, health, and treatment.
The next two years are much more practical. These years, known as the intern phase, include several weeks of clinical rotations and learning by shadowing physicians in a hospital setting. The third year of medical school includes core rotations.