How Do You Become a Doctor?


Quick Answer

The process of becoming a doctor consists of completing an undergraduate education and medical school. Upon graduation from medical school, newly minted medical doctors enter residency programs in which they work and train in their chosen specialties under the supervision of senior physicians. Residencies are three to seven years in length, depending on the specialty. Doctors must also be licensed in the jurisdiction where they practice.

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Full Answer

Permanent medical licenses are granted after a doctor completes a series of exams and the requisite graduate medical education. Once a license is issued, a doctor is qualified to practice medicine. After they complete their licensing requirements, most doctors sit for board certification exams. Board certification exams are given for each medical specialty. Once a doctor passes the board certification exams, he is considered to be board-certified in his specialty. Board certification is necessary for many jobs in the medical profession. For example, a hospital may require a doctor to be board-certified in neurology before hiring him as a neurologist. The length of residency varies widely by specialty. Family practice and internal medicine require three-year residencies. General surgery requires a five-year residency. Doctors who wish to practice in subspecialties are required to take a one to three year fellowship in the subspecialty after completing their residency. For example, a physician wishing to practice the subspecialty of adolescent and child psychiatry first completes a residency in psychiatry and then a fellowship in adolescent and child psychiatry.

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