You realize want to become a doctor, but now what? The road to becoming a doctor is often long and bumpy, but if you follow these five basic steps you will arrive at your destination before you know it.
1. First, declare yourself a premed student. No, this does not mean you stand up shout a proclamation about your intent to become a doctor, but it is almost that simple. Although it will vary, depending on the exact university you are attending, the first step is to meet with you academic or pre-professional advisor. It is his or her job to ensure that you get signed up for the premed program at your university.
What if your school does not have a premed program? First do not worry; it is not uncommon for a university to not have a declared premed program. Your academic or pre-professional advisor will still ensure that you are taking the necessary classes to enter medical school.
2. Familiarize yourself with the general requirements of the medical schools you wish to attend. You may already have an idea of what medical school you want to go to, but do you know if they have additional requirements that other schools do not. Your advisor may not even be aware. Always check the requirements for yourself, so you do not end up with a nasty surprise later.
Getting to know the requirements will also help you in choosing the school you wish to attend. While you are checking the requirements of each school you can also learn more about each school. Discover what the life is like at each campus and what areas the school puts it focuses on. If you want to become a neurologist then you probably do not want to go to a school that focuses on podiatry.
3. Begin preparing for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). The MCAT is required for admission consideration by nearly all medical schools in the United States. Thus it is an important and highly competitive part of your application process for medical school. When you should you begin preparing? The truth is that it is never too early. You just do not want to start preparing to late. Begin studying three months ahead of your test date, although twelve months would be better. Most universities either offer or host a preparation class for the MCAT. It is highly advisable that students take such a course, at minimum. Additional studying should include taking full-length practice tests. The MCAT is a 6-8 hour test and will shock you if you have not properly prepared. Proper preparation is the key to your success on the MCAT.
4. You have taken your MCAT and you are a year away from graduating, now what? It is now application time! You have made it to the point where all your preparation will pay off. You should find that through your own knowledge and your advisors that choosing a medical school will not be as difficult as you once thought. You will want to apply to medical school your junior year, right after you receive you MCAT scores. The application process is a lengthy one and usually takes up to one year to complete. The best advice is to apply early and to several medical schools, even if you are sure you will get into one. You always should have backup plans just to be safe.
5. Congratulations! You made it to the last step! You are graduated from your undergraduate university and you have applied to medical school, so what now? The last step, be confident and pick your school wisely. You will be receiving letters back from medical schools and some of them will reject you. There is no way around this, but the trick, if there is one, is to remain confident. This is why you applied to several medical schools and prepared thoroughly with your advisor. When you receive your acceptance letters way out your options carefully and choose the school that best fits your intended plans. Try not to rush this last step, choose the school that best describes what you want to do with your medical degree. You will be at this school for the next several years and you want to enjoy it.
Now that you have completed all of the steps you are now in medical school and on your way to becoming a doctor!