This post is intended for those who are thinking seriously about pursuing a career as a medical doctor. Whether you’re in high school, college, pre-med, whatever stage in your journey, if you’re thinking about how to get to that end point, it’s worth having a look at this post.
So, a quick disclaimer before we start: I am aware that there are multiple ways to become a doctor, depending on preference of specialty, country of origin, preferred country of practice, willingness to move, etc. I am simply outlining the few ways that I am familiar with and/or have researched in my journey to become a physician myself. In no way or form am I claiming that this post is comprehensive and I always encourage everyone to do their own research so you can make informed decisions and choose what’s right for you. That being said, I’ll be writing about a couple of the major ways to become a practicing doctor in North America that I considered when trying to find my path.
I won’t be talking too much about exactly how I got into medical school, or what schooling lead me to where I am now, because that is a story all on it’s own. But if you’d be interested in seeing the path I chose and why, comment below to let me know.
I don’t want this post to run too long, so let’s jump right into some of the ways to become a doctor. To start, I want to point out that being awarded an ‘MD’ degree is not the only way to become a medical doctor though most people generally think of this when they think of a doctor. However, there is also the ‘DO’ degree that confers the credential to practice as a physician. Their scope of practice is the same as one with an MD degree, and the schooling process is pretty much the same as well, the main difference is in their approach to patient care. For the purposes of this post, I will be focused on the MD degree.
This is the path that most people hear of, or learn about if they begin thinking about medical school in high school. What has to happen to go the traditional route of attaining an MD degree is generally as follows:
-complete high school
-complete a Bachelor Degree (any major, with preference placed on sciences and pre-medical subjects)
-sit for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)
-other activities such as research, volunteering, etc. are always an asset to your medical school application
-apply for medical schools
This is just a very general list of the major events that usually happen leading up to getting into a US or Canadian medical school and they do not have to be completed in that order exactly (except for high school being done first, of course). This route is what I had envisioned for myself when I first thought of going to medical school, but if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you would know this is “not how it really worked out” for me, though I was very set on it in the beginning. It is a rough road to travel, but it’s worth it if you can stick it out.
Non-Traditional (Caribbean Medical Schools)
Now, this route to an MD is seemingly less traveled, however, I’m finding more and more that surprisingly, a lot of physicians in Canada and the States have had their medical training from abroad. When it comes to Caribbean Medical Schools, there are many many choices, all with their own pros and cons, and I would encourage you to please do extensive research on your prospective school(s) and the programs they offer before going forward. General requirements include:
-complete high school
-complete a Bachelor’s Degree (same preferences as above, but may or may not be required)
-sit for the MCAT (may or may not be required)
-additional activities, volunteering, etc (as above)
-apply for medical schools
As you can see, the process can potentially be quite similar. The differences will depend on which schools you apply to, and also which program. With the non-traditional route, there are more program options. For example, some schools allow students admission straight from high school, and in place of a Bachelor’s degree, students complete a condensed premed program as part of their MD degree. In addition, there are other factors, but I’m just putting down the basics.
Truthfully, both options have their pros and cons (some more than others), and really, it’s up to you to do your research and find out what option works best for your place in life, and how hard you’re willing to work (both options require hard work though, just in different ways). I have seen both paths work out really well for a variety of physicians, so it really depends on you. DO your research, get all the facts and make an informed decision on your path. If you’re looking into medical school, I hope this post did something to assist you in getting a general idea of the choices you need to make to make your dreams reality 🙂
If anything wasn’t clear or you have any questions about any part of the process of medical school, feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.