Thinking About Pursuing a Career in Medicine? Here are the Steps to Become a Doctor

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Oct 22, 2018

Oct 22, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

Are you considering a career in medicine? Wondering if you have what it takes to become a doctor?

There is a nationwide shortage of physicians due to an increase of older Americans. In the next decade, there could be as many as 100,000 vacant physician jobs across the country.

If you decide to become a doctor, you'll never have to worry about finding a job. Medical school can be grueling, though, so you should make sure you're passionate about being a doctor.

In this article, we'll discuss the steps to become a doctor. Even if you're still in high school, there are some steps that you can take to open the door to your future as a medical doctor.

1. Start Planning in High School

You may not feel like your high school grades count for much, but if you're going to get into medical school you need to go to a good college. Your undergraduate science classes will prepare you for medical school, but to get into a good school you've got to put in the effort in high school.

Practice for your SATs and retake them if you don't get a decent score. Focus on doing well in school and participating in after-school activities. Colleges want to see that you are a consistent student who is committed to learning.

One way that you can prepare for medical school while you're still in high school is to contact your local veterinary practice or local medical office. See if they'll let you volunteer there a few times per week. If a college sees that you've been volunteering at a medical practice for several years, they are more likely to recommend you for their pre-med program.

Another way to get started on your medical education is to study to become a CNA. In general, you have to be 18 to take the certified nursing assistant program, but there are states that allow younger students to study with parental consent. You can make money working as a CNA while you expand your medical knowledge. It's one of the first steps to take to become a doctor after high school.

2. Stay Strong in College

Once you get into college, you have the chance to take your pre-med courses. Make sure you pick a school that has a strong pre-med program. If you're wondering what to major in to become a doctor, you don't need to major in biology or chemistry.

You should, however, take all of the required science courses so that you can pass your MCAT. Look for colleges that have a good med school placement rate and see if you can sit in on a few classes before you make your final decision.

It's not enough to get good grades in your science classes: you'll also have to do well in your other subjects. Competitive medical school are going to look at your overall GPA, your extracurricular activities, and your grades in pre-med classes.

Don't stress yourself out too much while you're in college. You don't want to be burnt out by the time you're 20 years old. Medical school is challenging and you need to pace yourself. Some students choose to take a year off between their undergrad studies and med school.

If you can, travel to a part of the world that needs health care volunteers during your winter breaks. You'll get valuable experience and it'll also look great on your med school application.

3. Make the Most of Your Downtime

Why do you want to be a doctor? Your answer probably involves helping people and making a difference in the world. Keep your focus on becoming a doctor during summer breaks. Try to find internships that allow you to shadow medical professionals. You'll get paid well and be able to talk about it in your essay for medical school.

In addition to getting your CNA certification and interning or volunteering, look for local opportunities to make an impact. You might want to take on organizing a walk for cancer awareness, or assemble a volunteer crew for a blood drive. Don't take on more than you can handle, but make sure you're making progress toward becoming a doctor on your off hours.

Once you're in med school, you'll be taking some very challenging classes. Medical school takes four years, and then you'll have to do your residency, which is another three to five years. You'll have to get licensed, and then complete a fellowship, depending on your specialty.

Try to get enough sleep and make sure you're eating every day. Residents often work 100-hour weeks and it can be easy to get run down. When you do have downtime, try to do activities that you enjoy like reading, going for a walk, or doing crossword puzzles. You have to keep yourself in great shape if you're going to achieve your goal of being a doctor.

Further Steps to Become a Doctor

Doctors often have to battle fatigue, but if you notice that it's affecting your work, you should get checked out. It could be anything from simple fatigue to Lyme disease to a more serious problem. Discover more about Lyme disease and make sure you're taking steps to avoid it, especially if you're volunteering in a rural area or a foreign country.

Eventually, you're going to need to figure out what medical specialty you would like to pursue. That's another reason for volunteering and interning: you get exposed to real-life situations and can take your time to decide what you'd like to do. These are the first steps to become a doctor or healthcare professional.

Whether you end up being a veterinarian or a radiologist, if you're passionate about a career in medicine you should start planning right away. Ask a local medical practice if you can come in and ask them a few questions. They may be able to make the time to meet with you.

If you're a natural leader, care about people's health, and are ready to undertake a difficult course of study, you may be an excellent candidate to be a doctor.

Send us an email and tell us how you got through med school. We're looking forward to hearing from you!