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How To Become A Doctor In 6 Simple Steps

How To Become A Doctor In 6 Simple Steps

Medical school. It’s one of the most difficult times for any future doctor. However, at the same time, it’s one of the most rewarding times, especially for neurosurgeons. Although students usually choose to take the med school path as teenagers, there are those who make the decision while in college.

Med students motivated by the money usually get an excellent paying job as a primary physician. But those who do it for the passion, end up getting an eye-watering salary, typically around a quarter of a million dollars a year.

Below are six steps that will help you become a doctor. Are you ready?

Have The Passion And Motivation

The first step to becoming a medical doctor is having the passion and motivation to be one. It may sound cliche, but you can do whatever you put your mind to. If you dream big, you will get big results. The lower your ambitions, the lower the results you will achieve.

Whether you’re motivated by the money, science, or helping with saving lives, having passion can get you through medical school more smoothly. Every time you lose a bit of motivation, remind yourself the reason why you chose to study medicine in the first place. That will give you the spark to keep going.

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Get An Undergraduate Degree

Once you’re armed with passion, you will need a four-year degree from a nationally accredited university. Although majoring in chemistry or biology might be smart, you can get your degree in any field.

As a part of medical school requirements, pre-med courses includes one year of biology with lab, one year of general chemistry with lab, one year of organic chemistry, one year of physics with lab, and one year of English.

Some people even go on to get their Master’s degree before going to med school. However, this is not mandatory, but it could increase your chances of getting into a good school.

Furthermore, it is recommended to begin the pre-med courses before taking the MCAT test, which is the Medical College Assessment Test – the exam you need to pass to get into med school.[1] And speaking of the MCAT, let’s have a little talk about that.

Pass The MCAT Exam

The Medical College Assessment Test is an exam every future medical doctor needs to score high on. The most recent significant change is that the test is computerized, and behavioral sciences are required to pass, along with biology, chemistry, and reasoning skills.

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One of the best ways to prepare is through sample tests and MCAT preparation books from Barnes N Nobles or Amazon.[2] Here’s a healthy bit of advice: invest your money in commercial preparation courses, practice books, flashcards, and Excedrin (trust me, you’ll need it!).

Before taking the test, avoid foods high in fat as they will make you sleepy. Also, there is no such thing as a “lucky guess”. Sometimes, instincts work better than random guesses, as you may have the answer somewhere lost in the unconscious part of the brain.

Surviving Med School

Once the med school application and interview process is over with, it’s time for your first year of med school. In orientation, you will be advised on how grueling med school is. The volume of information you will need to absorb each year is equivalent to getting two Master’s degrees – yes, it’s that difficult.

However, as stated in the first tip, if you are motivated and passionate about becoming a doctor, then all the hard work won’t be as intense. Additionally, the level of coursework is not the problem in med school. Instead, it’s the amount of memorization.

U.S. News & World Report puts it like this: “High school is like a lawn sprinkler. College is like a garden hose. And medical school is like a fire hose of information.”[3]

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One common mistake of first-year students is working part-time while in med school. As a result of the hefty student loan bill, new students are tempted to find a job to help pay those loans early. However, that decision will soon backfire.

Since med school requires up to 60 hours a week of studying, getting a job will increase the chances of failing courses. But that doesn’t mean you won’t survive. As long as you develop a study plan and put in those long hours, you will get through it.

Don’t make too many friends because there are never enough hours to study and have time left over to socialize. Keeping in touch with family and close friends is also a priority for success. And let’s not forget exercising, as it can help you retain memory before an exam, according to Mental Daily.[4]

During the third year, you will be able to choose the specialization you want to pursue. For example, psychiatry will allow you to take courses in psychopathology and psychopharmacology, among many others.

Graduation And Residency Program

In the United States, over seven percent of medical students are unsuccessful in accomplishing their goals of becoming a doctor. And here’s why: some students arrive at med school with expectations to become a doctor out of their parents’ goals and not their own. As a result, the workload becomes too hefty for them.

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But for those that make it to graduation, the ceremony is one of the biggest highlights of their lives. They are informed of where they are going to do their residency. The residency program is required for any future physician to practice medicine with an unrestricted license.

The better your overall grades in med school, the better the hospital will be for your residency. For those looking to get their foot in the door for family medicine, residency can range from three years and goes up to eight years for neurosurgeons.

Opening Up Your Practice

You have a few choices after graduation and supervised training. Typically, it comes down to working in a hospitalized setting or opening up your medical practice. To open up a practice, you will first need to consult with health care attorneys and accountants. Although the cash flow is great, opening up a practice can be a long expensive process and also very daunting. But in the end, its benefits largely outweigh its cons because it’s still rewarding.[5]

Bottom line: Becoming a doctor is a long distance race, involving many years in the making. If you don’t make it to the end for some reason, remember that becoming a medical assistant position is an option and is a position where you can make a decent salary. As Clement Stone once said, “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”

Featured photo credit: Garry Norman / Getty Images via usnews.com

Reference

[1] https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/taking-mcat-exam/
[2] https://www.kaptest.com/mcat/mcat-practice/mcat-pop-quiz
[3] http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-medical-schools/articles/2014/09/04/avoid-common-mistakes-as-a-first-year-medical-student
[4] http://www.mentaldaily.com/article/2016/10/going-for-a-run-can-help-studying-for-exams/
[5] https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/small-business/how-to-start-a-medical-practice/

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Jose Florez

Mental Health Writer

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

Reference

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