The time it takes to get a medical degree (M.D.) is 8 years of college after high school. But that is just to graduate. After that, you have to do residency or your internship, which can take another 3 to 8 years. In total, it will take about 12 years after you graduate high school before you can practice medicine.
As you can see the path to become a doctor is long and begins with foresight and dedication. Although weve answered how long does it take to get a medical degree, lets guide you with the steps you will need to become a practicing MD.
1. Get serious with the sciences in high school.
Prepare as early as high school. This means developing the love for the sciences early in life. Take your biology, chemistry and physics not only to your brain, but to heart. Make the grade. Do well in your SAT or ACT. This will make your entry to college easier.
2. Choose a bachelor’s degree with a chock full of science courses.
Choose your baccalaureate degree carefully. If you followed the advice above about loving the science courses, you would find it easier enrolling in a science-based degree program. Students with science majors, such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics, have an advantage over students of the other types of 4-year programs. Your science credits will help you breeze through admission and through the initial year of med school.
It is true that medical schools generally do not discriminate against non-science bachelor’s degree programs. But students without the required science credits will be required to complete the prerequisite science courses. The prerequisites will unnecessarily add a year or so to med school.
3. Complete and show a good performance in your bachelor’s degree.
You have 2 obvious goals in completing your bachelor’s degree. The first goal is to have a solid pre-med foundation, preferably science-based.
The second goal is to perform well and have a high GPA to show for on your application to the country’s top med schools.
A 3.5 GPA will show that you’ve done good work back in pre-med. A 3.0 GPA can be justified to pass admission. Relevant extra-curricular activities, such as research assisting or volunteer health missions, will also help a not-so-high GPA.
Make college life a testament to your work ethics, study habits, and concern for the world around you. That’s what doctors are made of, and you have to show that you’ve got what it takes.
4. Prepare and score well in the MCAT.
Different medical schools require different MCAT scores. Students often regard the MCAT with anxiety. It is the litmus test for students entering medical school. The test is a computerized test of 45 points divided into the following subject areas: biological sciences, physical sciences and verbal reasoning. A score of 30 will give you a very good chance in med schools. Scores of 34-36 are considered stellar. MCAT scores are often considered alongside the applicants’ GPA.
5. Decide on the medical degree program that you will take.
Did you know that there are at least two kinds of medical degrees commonly offered by medical schools in the US? Well, there are, and these are the allopathic medical degree and the osteopathic medical degree. It does look like the degree you have in mind doesn’t belong to any of the two. Let’s discuss each briefly.
Graduates of allopathic medicine are called Doctors of Medicine (M.D.). The MD degree takes 4 years to complete, with classes focused on science courses such as microbiology, physiology, anatomy, and pharmacology.
These are offered in medical schools accredited by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Clinical rotations will be on different specialty areas, such as cardiology, obstetrics-gynecology, and surgery.
One year of internship and 3-8 years of residency follow. They are required to take the USMLE licensure to practice as professionals.
Graduates of osteopathic medicine are called Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). The DO degree takes 4 years to complete, with classes focused on the holistic approach to treating the body, with courses on physiology, histology, and osteopathic principles.
These are offered in osteopathic medical schools accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation of the American Osteopathic Association. It also requires MCAT for admission to this medical school. Internship takes 1 year and residency commonly ranges from 2 to 6 years. For the licensure, graduates have 2 options: USMLE or COMLEX.
Doing your thorough study on these options, you will find out that both the MD and the DO are physicians recognized by the US, assuming they have all the required education, training, licenses and certifications.
Both types of physicians provide medical services, from diagnosis to prescribing medication and performing surgical procedures.
Number of years to complete a medical degree
Counting after you have graduated from high school, it would take you 4 years of pre-med science-based bachelor’s degree. Med school, whether DO or MD, will take another 4 years if you didn’t need to comply with science prerequisites. That should be just 8 years after high school.
Remember, though, that a medical degree doesn’t make you a doctor. There will be more steps to the journey, and these will be mentioned briefly.
Complete internship and residency
After completing your chosen degree, spend one year for internship. As mentioned earlier, both DO and MD graduates are required the same period for internship. Residency follows, and the length varies with the specialty area and the kind of medical degree completed. For MD, residency takes from 3 to 8 years. For DO, it will be from 2 to 6 years.
During the residency training, resident doctors are already paid a salary for their service to the medical institute where they are being trained.
Take and pass the licensure
MDs take the 3-step USMLE. DOs may take either the USMLE or COMLEX. As had been observed, DO graduates usually took both exams.
Practice your profession
The preparation to a medical profession is undeniably grueling and long-winded, but definitely worthwhile. Doctors work in varied specialty areas; they may also obtain a fellowship to sub-specialize. There are also doctors who find other paths away from the usual medical practice, such as pharmaceutical research or the armed forces.
I hope this helps you with how long it takes to get a medical degree.