Qualifications for Becoming a Doctor

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    Pre-Med Qualifications

    • Individuals who wish to become doctors must earn a high school diploma or GED equivalent. High school students interested in a medical career should take mathematical courses including algebra, precalculus, geometry and trigonometry, as well as science classes like physics, chemistry and biology. After high school, future doctors will need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Most doctors earn their undergraduate degree in biology or chemistry, but a bachelor of science degree is not necessary as long as the student keeps a high grade-point average. There are several classes pre-med students are required to take in order to enter medical school, including chemistry (organic and inorganic), biology, physics, English composition, behavioral science, precalculus, anatomy, biochemistry, histology and physiology.

    Physical and Emotional Qualifications

    • People who desire to become doctors must meet specific physical and emotional qualifications. Doctors often work long shifts; they have to be physically able to stand---and remain awake and alert---for long stretches of time. Doctors also deal with patients and family members who can be emotionally distraught regarding a particular condition or diagnosis; it is important that doctors be compassionate, kind, patient, genuine and excellent communicators. Their demeanor should encourage optimism and wellness.

    Science or Medical Experience Qualifications

    • Candidates for medical school will need to demonstrate previous experience in the field of science. Pre-med students often volunteer in a laboratory as a research assistant, or get jobs as CNAs (certified nursing assistants) or EMTs (emergency medical technicians).

    Standardized Test Qualifications

    • One of the deciding factors in medical school admission is a student's MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) scores. The test has four sections: physical and biological sciences, a writing sample and verbal reasoning. Students typically take the MCAT during their junior year of undergrad; there are several study guides and practice MCAT tests available to help a student score highly.

    Medical School Qualifications

    • All future doctors must attend an accredited medical school program which lasts four years. First-year students take classes in anatomy, biochemistry, behavioral science, physiology, immunology, nutrition and genetics. Second-year students learn law and ethics, preventive medicine, medical microbiology, human sexuality, pathology and pharmacology. During the last two years, students gain medical experience through supervised clinical practice, including pediatrics, family medicine, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery and the specialty the student has chosen to work in following graduation.

    Residency Qualifications

    • Following medical school, doctors must spend between three and seven years (depending on their specialty) as a paid hospital resident. During this time, they treat and diagnose patients under an attending physician's supervision.

    Licensing Qualifications

    • Following residency, doctors must pass state board exams before becoming licensed in their chosen specialty.

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