Exactly how many years does it take to become a doctor? This is a question many ask when thinking of entering this field. If you consider the job duties of a doctor, it is clear why it takes a significant amount of time. In the United States, doctors must hold a legal license to provide services. To achieve this, they must meet the requirements set by the board issuing the license. Many factors play a role in this length. In most cases, individuals can expect to spend six or more years studying.
How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Doctor? | And Other Questions About Taking Medicine
In this article:
- How Long Do You Study to Become a Doctor?
- Why Does It Take So Long to Become a Doctor?
- How Much Does It Cost to Become a Doctor?
How Long Do You Study to Become a Doctor?
To become a doctor, individuals must work through a series of steps. The extensive process allows students to get the education necessary to obtain the title of a doctor.
1. Bachelor’s Degree
The first step is to get a bachelor’s degree. Most of the time, this is a four-year process. It involves taking basic educational courses. Students will learn the fundamentals of their degree plan, but a bachelor’s degree does not provide medical education. Many students will enroll in a pre-med program. These are individuals who are undergraduates. Many students will take some medical courses. However, these pre-med courses do not provide licensing qualifications.
Most students will spend four years obtaining a bachelor’s degree, although some may complete it sooner. Advanced programs and early entrance into college can speed this up. On the other hand, others may take longer. Students not enrolled full time may need five or six years to complete it.
2. Medical School
True medical training occurs in medical school. Students will embrace courses designed to provide medical skills. This type of training is intense. It often requires students to take challenging courses on science and anatomy. It may encompass many specialization opportunities. Some students spend significant time in research programs. Others will spend time in classrooms and labs.
Most students begin their education with a focus on the makeup of the body. From here, students will learn about abnormalities occurring in the body. Treatments and procedures come later. This educational component will need a great deal of study. The goal is to provide information during these first few years.
Medical students will begin to practice what they learn. This will follow the initial years of education. They may be able to watch procedures licensed doctors perform. Many will get to work on cadavers as well. They still cannot provide medical advice. They also cannot provide medical services at this point.
Medical school takes between two and four years to complete. Most students will spend four years in a specialized medical college. Some will also be a part of research schools and hospitals.
Once a person completes their education, he or she can then sit for a licensing exam. The associated medical board manages this process. States will provide access to this licensing exam. It will be specific to the student’s skill focus. Medical examinations for licensing are in-depth. An option for some students is to take preparation courses. These may help them to pass their medical licensing exam.
From here, students will need to apply for their license. Students do this with the medical board of their state. It involves a review of their skills and education.
Once a medical student obtains a license, he or she will need to continue to study. This happens in a medical setting. Residency is the process of learning within the practice. It is much like an apprenticeship. These individuals have their license. However, they enter teaching hospitals and practices to gain practical skills. Most will spend their first year as an intern. During this time, they will spend more time watching than practicing medicine. Still, they will voice opinions and gather skills.
Some students spend between one year and six years in residency. From here, many will move into fellowship. This process takes another one or two years. This allows some doctors to further expand their education. Most fellowships are in-depth or highly specialized fields. Fellowship is not a requirement. However, it can be to enter some practices or hospital settings. It can take an additional year or two.
Why Does It Take So Long to Become a Doctor?
It is easy to see frustration. Just why does it take so long to become a doctor? The answer to this is simple. These individuals hold the life of patients in their hands. They make very important decisions. They also have to maintain a very specific code of conduct and high ethics. All of this takes time and a lot of hard work to complete.
Most often, the skills learned in this educational process are for a specific area of study. Chiropractors learn a different path from surgeons. Some doctors may elect to learn more than one area. Others may decide to switch focuses. This can further lengthen their educational process. A comprehensive education is necessary to be a licensed doctor in the U.S.
How Much Does It Cost to Become a Doctor?
The cost of becoming a doctor can also be a challenge. Many students in the U.S. will find many funding paths. Costs range widely. Many things impact them. The school of choice plays a role. The length of time studying matters. The type of doctor can also play a role. The cost of a four-year education in medical school is $278,455 for a private school. Public schools are available as well. They cost, on average $207,866. These figures are from 2013. The Association of American Medical Colleges provides them. These figures do not include all costs. Bachelor’s degree education is not a part of this figure.
How many years does it take to become a doctor? After that question, you should also find out how residents spend their time in the hospital. Take a look at this video showing one day in the life of residents at John Hopkins Medicine:
It can take a long time to obtain an education. However, those passionate about being a doctor see worth in doing so. Those who enjoy learning will benefit as well. The key here is to find an area that interests you. Focus your attention on areas you enjoy. This makes the years and the costs worthwhile.
Still wondering how many years does it take to become a doctor? Or you may still have other questions about medicine. Share your queries below and we’ll try to answer them with what we know.