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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 August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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