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Considering Becoming a Licensed Doctor in the US? Here’s Everything You Need to Know!

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Each country has its own requirements for someone to qualify as a doctor. To help you in your path towards becoming a physician in the US, we’ve prepared a step by step guide for you to follow:

Step 1: Complete grade 12

Without a High School diploma or GED, it will be almost impossible for you to become a doctor. The better your marks, the higher the chances of you getting into a good college.

Step 2: Earn a college or university degree

In the US, the medical school admissions board requires that all aspiring doctors get at least one bachelor’s degree. Although there is no mandatory undergraduate degree prescribed, it would be better to get a degree that complies with medical school premed requirements.

Step 3: MCAT exam

If you are interested in becoming a physician, you should register for and take the MCAT. The MCAT, short for Medical College Admission Test, is a standardized, multiple-choice examination. It is used by admission committees to determine whether the student is likely to succeed as a doctor.

Step 4: Medical school application

Most students start applying to medical school during the summer after their junior year. Like them, you can choose to apply after your junior year or choose to a year off in between.

Once you’ve made up your mind about the medical school you want to attend, submit your application to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) who will then transmit your application to each relevant institution. The AMCAS is a national application processing service from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Step 5: Attend medical school

Complete a four-year full-time training in medical school. You will spend this time studying content-heavy material in class and do clinical rotations to apply your acquired knowledge and develop your skills in a wide range of areas.

Step 6: Attempt part I and II of the USMLE

USMLE, or United States Medical Licensing Examination, is a three-part examination. Before even entering your third year of studies, you will be expected to pass the first part of the exam. The second part of the exam has to be taken during your fourth year.

Although both papers include multiple-choice question papers, part I of the test covers medical principles, while part II covers clinical diagnosis and disease development.

Step 7: Choose your medical specialty

Whether you want to specialize in pediatrics, obstetrics, or emergency medicine, you will be expected to apply for residency in that related field. Your application will then be matched to all open residency programs throughout the country.

Step 8: Start residency

Once you’ve graduated from medical school, you will need to start a residency program. You’ll generally be expected to complete a 3-year residency program to get thorough training in your chosen specialty.

Step 9: Pass part III of USMLE

Complete the final part of the United States Medical Licensing Examination – this paper covers scientific concepts and will test the physician’s competence at practicing medicine. Considering the importance of the USMLE to your career, we’ll cover this in more detail below.

At this stage, you will also be expected to complete your residency.

Step 10: Board certifications

Out of the 24 specialty boards that certify physicians, you must obtain a certification in your chosen field. You may need to complete a written and oral examination to earn this certification.

Step 11: State license

Apply for a state medical license so you can start applying for jobs and kickstart your career.

Step 12: Job Application

You are finally ready to become a doctor. One last thing to do: Apply for jobs. You may have to begin with a residency, which will be converted to a full-time position. Do not despair, many doctors go through the same procedure.

Understanding the United States Medical Licensing Examination

Part 1:

The first step in a series of test, this part of the examination is a digital examination that consists of 350 multiple-choice questions. The exams span a total of 8 hours and is split into seven one-hour blocks. You are given one-hour blocks to answer a series of 50 questions. 

The minimum score to pass is 194.

Part 2:

This part is conducted in two phases: the 2CK and 2CS. CK stands for Clinical Knowledge while CS stands for Clinical Science. While the 2CK is a paper that lasts 9 hours and consists of 370 multiple-choice questions, the 2CS paper lasts 8 hours and consists of 12 standardized patients, with only 11 being scored. The minimum score for a 2CK is a 209, while the 2CS has no minimum score – you either pass or fail.

Part 3:

The final part of the exams spans a total of 16 hours, which is split into 2 days. It consists of 480 multiple choice questions and 9 clinical simulations. The minimum score to pass this exam is 190.

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