Nine steps to becoming a doctor

Medical school is a complicated jumble of classes, requirements and tests that shape a student into a full-fledged doctor. The requirements are steep to ensure students are fully prepared for the responsibility of treating patients. On the other hand, the description of requirements makes it hard for those not in the medical field to understand the steps it takes to become a doctor. The process varies from one school to another, but here are nine simple steps on how to get through medical school at Central Michigan University:


Step 1: Undergraduate degree

Gaining an undergraduate degree is an essential step to moving onto medical school. Regardless of what you may think, the undergrad degree doesn’t necessarily have to be in biology or chemistry. Central Michigan’s medical school is a diverse group of biomedical, English and even some philosophy majors. The only thing these undergraduates need to worry about is that they’re completing those necessary prerequisites that medical schools look for.


Step 2: Take the MCAT

The MCAT stands for Medical College Admission Test. Like many of the other graduate tests, it is a standardized exam that measures the medical aptitude of those who are planning on applying to medical school. It is usually taken during the junior year. A good score will range from 24 all the way up to a perfect score of 45.


Step 3: Apply to med school

If you did well on the MCAT, then it is time to move on to applying to medical schools. In order to do this, students complete the AMCAS. AMCAS stands for American Medical College Application Service, which is an in-depth resume that students send to as many schools as they want. If the school is interested, they will request more information.

When the requested information is reviewed, the school will decide if they want to proceed to the next step and schedule an interview with the potential student. Traditionally, the interview is like a typical job interview. Central Michigan has adopted a process called the MMI or Multiple Mini Interview. It involves reading a short scenario and responding to the interviewer with how they would handle the situation. The responses display medical knowledge, current event knowledge and overall character. The process is done 11 times, which gives students a chance to redeem themselves.


Step 4: Completing medical school

When entering the first year of medical school, classes are chosen for students. Generic courses such as biology and anatomy classes are scheduled to ensure everyone has learned what they need to, in order to proceed into more in-depth medical classes.

While completing this introductory process, students also partake in preceptorships. The process is referred to as ICE or initial clinical experience. This is where the student follows a doctor and select office personnel to see how an office is run.

In the last few years of medical school, students will go through a rotation of the various medical fields to see which one interests them. They will then apply to the field where they will complete their residency.


Step 5: Taking the USMLE one and two

The USMLE stands for the United States Medical Licensing Exam. It is taken in three parts throughout a med student’s academic career. The first part is taken after the second year of med school and the second part is taken during year four.


Step 6: Completing a residency

The med student now goes into a practice to work under a senior doctor. The process lasts about four years. This aspect of school is when the student becomes a doctor. They are no longer in the classroom, but are now putting their skills to work. The location of a residency depends on where the students apply.


Step 7: Taking the USMLE three

After completing the first year of residency, the third part of the USMLE is taken. This will give the student their license to practice medicine once the residency and fellowship, if needed, are complete.


Step 8: Taking the Board Exam

After the residency is finished, the med student must take a board certification test to be certified in the area of their specialty. The USMLE makes them a licensed doctor but the board exam will let them practice in their specific field.


Step 9: Completing a fellowship

The residency may be complete, but the med student may not be finished quite yet. After the residency, certain specialties will move onto a fellowship. It is shorter than a residency and usually lasts around two years. This step involves working with a senior doctor who will be present for reference but will no longer be in the room. It is a trial period before becoming a full-fledged doctor. This step also includes board exam to test one’s knowledge in the specialty.


Photo Illustration | Taylor Arnett 


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  1. 1

    I know you featuring CMU’s program but a shout out to all the osteopathic medical schools would have been a good thing to include. Obtaining the DO degree is another great way to become a doctor :)

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