It takes an individual at least 11 years after completing a high school education to become a doctor in the United States. These years are divided among undergraduate school, medical school, internships and fellowships.
An individual desiring to become a doctor must first enroll as an undergraduate in a pre-med curriculum. The individual studies biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, human physiology and other subjects that give her a firm foundation on which to delve into studying highly specialized sections of medicine taught at post-graduate universities.
After passing the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, the individual spends four to seven years in medical school. Here, she learns advanced medical science topics and techniques in both classroom and laboratory settings. She also learns how to interact with patients, how to take medical histories and how to diagnose current medical states and conditions.
While in medical school, she also begins to gain hands-on experience in supervised, local hospital laboratories and patient rooms. After the completion of medical school, the individual then embarks on a three- to eight-year residency in which one or more senior physicians directly supervise the hands-on experience the individual receives perfecting her craft. After the completion of the residency, some individuals undergo fellowships to gain even more advanced training in their chosen fields of medicine.