Choosing to become a doctor is a rewarding professional option. Working in the medical field may provide you the opportunity to assist patients in the management of their health issues and wellbeing, as well as in their quest to achieve their fullest potential. Other doctors, on the other hand, do life-saving surgeries on a regular basis.
Whether you work in a hospital, medical center, or private practice, your primary responsibility as a doctor is to treat patients’ medical issues by gathering and analyzing patient data, ordering tests, making diagnoses, and prescribing drugs.
An extensive education is required to become a doctor. A bachelor’s degree and acceptance into a recognized medical school are prerequisites for pursuing a career in medicine.
What Degree Is Required to Become a Doctor?
It is necessary for doctors to get a doctorate degree, which is the highest level of schooling. They also require a bachelor’s degree, which doesn’t have to be in a certain field of study.
As a general rule, medical school lasts for four years. Two years of medical school are spent learning how to diagnose and treat patients in the classroom and laboratory, which is an essential part of becoming a doctor.
There are a number of clinical rotations that take place throughout the final two years of the program. A medical degree is awarded to students when they have completed their medical studies and clinical rotations. They then continue their internship and residency programs to become fully trained physicians.
- Degrees for Doctors
Allopathic Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Osteopathic Doctor of Medicine (DO) degrees are the two doctoral-level degrees that can adequately educate students for a career as a physician.
Doctor of Medicine
In the United States, a doctor of medicine is known as an MD. Doctor of Medicine (MD) degrees are pursued by around three-quarters of medical school students, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).
To put it another way, allopathic medical school programs teach students how to treat illnesses and their symptoms using pharmaceuticals, surgery, and other conventional methods.
Students graduating from an MD school must pass the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) examinations provided by the National Board of Medical Examiners.
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
About a quarter of those enrolled in medical school want to pursue an osteopathic degree rather than an allopathic one. According to the American Medical Association, the number of students enrolling in programs to achieve a DO degree has increased, as has the number of osteopathic institutions in the US.
Those who pursue a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree are more likely to focus on holistic approaches to medicine. Using osteopathic manipulative therapy as an example, DO students get more than 200 hours of hands-on musculoskeletal system instruction.
Students pursuing a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree must instead pass the COMLEX-USA license exam (Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination of the United States).
What Major Is Required to Become a Physician?
Before pursuing either a Doctor of Medicine or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, you will need to complete an undergraduate degree. Applicants to medical school are expected to possess a bachelor’s or baccalaureate degree. The major in which a student earns a degree is up to the student.
Any undergraduate major might lead to medical school, as long as all prerequisite coursework is completed – regardless of whether or not the stated major required those courses.
Typically, schools and universities have a pre-medical academic track that enables students of any major to prepare for medical school admissions by taking courses that correspond to conventional medical school prerequisites.
The Top Doctor Bachelor Degree Alternatives
Obviously, just because you can go to medical school from any undergraduate background doesn’t mean that you should select a college major with no regard for your professional objectives.
A number of undergraduate majors are more closely tied to the medical field than others, or they help future medical school students in some other way, such as preparing them for admissions tests or helping them to thrive in clinical practice. In order to become a doctor, you will need to complete a large number of scientific subjects regardless of your major.
According to the American Medical Association, biology, physical sciences, social sciences, humanities, specialized health sciences, and mathematics and statistics were among the most popular undergraduate study programs among enrolled medical school students in 2020.
If you’re curious about how many students who don’t major in these disciplines of study get into medical school, examine this statistic. More than one-fifth (or 3,391) of the 22,239 undergraduates whose majors were examined didn’t fall into any of these groups.
According to the American Medical Association, the “other” category of majors was the second most popular, behind only biological science.
Biology is the only undergraduate major that has a direct correlation to medical school admissions. Students who applied to medical school in 2020 with a biological science degree made up more than 57% of the total of 22,239 applicants.
Biological principles, the scientific study of life and living things, are essential ideas in medical practice.. In order to comprehend how the human body works as well as how drugs and other medical treatments work, doctors use their understanding of biology.
If you plan to pursue a career in biology, you may choose from a variety of courses, including:
- Cell biology
- Molecular biology
- Experimental biology
- Human genetics
- Human physiology
You may also plan to take lessons in chemistry, biochemistry, and physics, among other things.
Despite the fact that biology has a higher percentage of students who are accepted to medical school, this does not imply that biology is the “best” major for those hoping to become physicians.
According to the American Medical Association, biology majors’ performance on admissions tests and acceptance rates is on par with those of applicants with backgrounds in various other areas. Admission to medical school isn’t guaranteed by majoring in the biological sciences, and not majoring in the sciences won’t make it tougher.
Consider getting a degree in one of the physical sciences if biology isn’t your thing. Some 2,240 students in 2020, or about 10% of the total number of new medical students, will be doing this in their undergrads.
The physical sciences are those branches of science that deal with the study of natural but nonliving things. Physics, chemistry, and biology are among the most common undergraduate degrees in this field.
In chemistry, the study of matter and the components that make it up is referred to as
The study of matter, energy, and force is known as physics. It is the study of Earth’s history, the processes that it undergoes and the composition, physical structure as well as its characteristics.
Physical science majors may not seem to have as much in common with the job of a doctor as their biological science counterparts, but they are nonetheless exposed to the same scientific procedures and ways of thinking as their biological science counterparts.
Medical treatments such as pharmaceutical medications, medical gadgets, and diagnostic testing processes frequently employ the principles and techniques of chemistry and physics. You don’t need to be a medical researcher to understand how and why certain medicinal therapies operate.
Aside from laboratory scientific prerequisites, most medical school programs need you to satisfactorily finish undergraduate courses in English, mathematics and the social sciences.
In addition to medicine and the hard sciences, doctors should be well-rounded individuals. Some medical students choose to major in one of the social sciences, either because the topic fascinates them or because they believe it will benefit them in their future professions.
There are many benefits to studying psychology, such as learning how to build rapport with patients and convince them to make healthy decisions; however, this background can also be useful in learning the art of communicating with patients so that their anxieties and concerns are eased and they feel more at ease.
An alternative route is to major in sociology if you’re interested in social dynamics and the oppression of certain groups. This background might help you solve healthcare inequities and inspire you to work in clinics serving the uninsured, underprivileged, and vulnerable communities.
The study of human history, culture, and society is at the heart of the humanities. Among these non-scientific fields include history and English literature as well as philosophy, theology, and all forms of the arts. Only 832 of the 22,239 incoming medical students in 2020 selected to major in the humanities, which is less than 4% of the total.
Even yet, you may gain non-technical information and abilities through your work as a humanities student, which will serve you well as a doctor and as a well-rounded individual in general.
Learning about how cultural and social differences affect well-being, how social stratification impacts access to resources that affect well-being, and the ways in which sociocultural factors influence perceptions of reality, self-perception, interactions with others, and individual behavior can all be helpful in preparing you for some of the foundational concepts that appear on the MCAT.
Specialized Health Sciences
The number of medical school graduates with bachelor’s degrees in health sciences should be higher, but just 784 of the 22,239 students who matriculated in 2020 did so. According to U.S. News & World Report, health sciences students often go on to become health technicians with a variety of specialties.
However, if you choose a health science major, you’ll get a head start on your medical school preparations by taking courses that prepare you for clinical work in the healthcare business. Healthcare delivery systems, healthcare economics, healthcare finance, healthcare reimbursements, healthcare quality management, and healthcare ethics and legal issues are all likely to be studied in a health sciences curriculum
Students considering medical school may ask if earning a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree has any bearing on their chances of acceptance. As long as you complete all medical school standards, a BA degree in liberal arts studies will not hinder your ability to become a doctor.
Beyond Degrees to Become a Physician
There is a great deal of attention on the degrees needed to become a doctor because, following high school, most physicians will spend at least eight years in school after that..
However, a prospective physician should not neglect other crucial parts of their education and development as educators and mentors alike. If you’re thinking about a future in medicine, you should be aware of things like the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), residency training, and the prerequisites for becoming a licensed physician.
Medical College Admission Test
The MCAT, a multiple-choice exam that includes biology, physical science, verbal skills, writing abilities, and critical thinking skills, must be passed before you can enroll in medical school.
The majority of medical schools use your score to decide whether or not you are accepted for enrollment.
Residency in Medicine
For between three and seven years, medical residency aims to provide you with hands-on experience in the medical field. If you have sub-specialized in a particular field, such as geriatrics, vascular, or internal medicine, you can pursue a post-residency fellowship.
While each state has its own set of licensure standards, most demand a one-year residence and the completion of a board certification. After completing your state’s license requirements, you will be able to practice as a medical doctor lawfully.
While medical school isn’t exactly a cakewalk, you’ll still face a grueling internship and residency schedule following graduation. Including the time spent on patient care and the time required to complete paperwork and other auxiliary chores, residents have been known to put in up to 80 hours per week on average.