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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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Published on October 8, 2019

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

The late writer William S. Burroughs once said that “When you stop growing, you start dying.” It might have a morbid undertone, but it’s one hundred percent true in terms of one’s career.

The days of finding a job with one company that you can stick with for 30 years, and simply relax as you move up its company escalator are few and far between in today’s world. This isn’t necessarily bad news. On the contrary, it means that you’re the one in charge of shaping your career advancement.

By putting these principles and behaviors into practice, you’ll begin to see how to advance your career quickly. Ready? Let’s get started…

1. Define What Success Is for You

There’s no right or wrong definition of what success in your career looks like. The important thing is to figure out what success looks like for YOU. It might, and probably will, change along the way, but if you don’t have some sort of milestone on the horizon, then you won’t know which direction to go in.

Think about success in your career in terms of one year, five years, and 10 years. Once you have that, it’s time to lace up your boots and get to work.

2. Learn How to Develop and Follow a Plan

Nobody just stumbles upon success accidentally. Sure, they may stumble upon breakthroughs or new methods accidentally, but all success stories have one thing in common — a plan.

Establish a timeline for the things that you want to achieve in your career in the next year, five years, 10 years, and so on. Consider the skills that you’ll need to learn to make these things happen and work on acquiring them.

3. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You

It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.

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By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.

4. Seek Out a Mentor(s)

A mentor will not only be able to help you refine and reach your career goals, but will be invaluable in landing promotions and finding unadvertised job openings.

One unique approach is to work on fostering a relationship with a mentor both within and outside of your company. This will help in giving you different perspectives as you rise up through the ranks in your company and career overall.

5. Stop Wasting Your Mornings

You may not think you’re a morning person, but if you can learn to be one, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the road.

Prepare a to-do list of tasks that you want to accomplish the day before and work on knocking them out for at least one hour before you respond to morning emails. The problem with responding to emails first, is you’re giving your attention to somebody else’s agenda, instead of plotting your own course for the day.

6. Arrange or Attend a Networking Party

If you’re attending networking events simply because you might get a few free drinks, you’re doing them wrong. These events are great for meeting new people and forming relationships. Your goal shouldn’t be to get hired by the end of the night, but to simply make a good impression by being friendly and authentic. So what’s next?

Reach out a few days later via email or on social media to follow up and connect!

7. Pick Up Some New Skills

Nobody wants to be the old dog that can’t learn any new tricks. To move up in your career, you’re going to likely need to pick up new skills along the way. Maybe your company offers on-the-job training or you have the option of taking online classes at night.

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By learning new skills, you’ll not only be able to expand upon what you can already do, but you’ll make yourself more valuable to your employer and future employers.

8. Exploit the Benefits Already at Your Disposal

Remember what we just said about the possibility of your company providing on-the-job training? Take advantage of these sorts of benefits!

If you’re working for a company that allows you to job shadow other employees or has company mixers, you should attend these. They not only allow you to develop your skills within the company, but show seasoned executives within your field that you’re interested in more than just clocking in for a paycheck.

9. Make Yourself Indispensable

Good help is hard to find and employers want to retain outstanding employees. If you can learn to make yourself indispensable to your company, you’ll not only communicate that you’re successful, but will have a lot more job security. What’s this entail though?

It’s actually not all that difficult. By being reliable, adapting to new challenges, and holding your own work and performance to a high standard, you’ll stand out among your peers and others will take notice. Easy enough, right?

10. Get Off the Fence

People who advance in their careers are those who don’t shy away from voicing their opinion and stand up with authority when the opportunity arises.

If a problem arises in your company and you think you might have a solution or are willing to work to find one, then let others know. Employers value and promote problem solvers. Start off with something small and work your way up towards tackling more difficult tasks and projects.

11. Don’t Wait for More Responsibility, Ask for It

If you want more responsibility in your job, then be open about it with your manager. Your manager may be so busy with their own work that they weren’t aware you were looking for more challenges.

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Just make sure you can handle it and that you already show strong performance in your current duties. And if your manager doesn’t seem supportive about offering you more responsibility, well, then it could be time to look for new employment.

12. Stop Wasting Time on What You Don’t Want

If your career goals start with “I should do this…” there could be a problem. This kind of language in referring to goals can doom them to failure because the want isn’t there.

Consider using the RUMBA method (Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral and Agreed) when setting your goals. That “agreed” part should really be “want.” By going after career goals that you actually want to accomplish, you’re much more likely to achieve them.

13. Seek Out Feedback and Apply It

Simply doing your job might not always push you up in your career advancement. Too often, employees just assume that their bosses will notice their performance strides and reach out when the time is right to advance.

Don’t be afraid to regularly seek out feedback and ask for constructive criticism. It not only shows that you value your manager’s opinion but demonstrates that you care about your job and want to become better in your chosen field.

14. Pick Your Bosses Wisely

Advancing in your career can move a lot quicker if you’re working for the right people. If your boss isn’t any good at their job or doesn’t value you, then moving up could become difficult.

A great boss though, will be able to help you capitalize on your strengths and be an advocate for your success. If there aren’t any strong developers of talent in your management chain already, then look around for some and seek them out as mentors.

15. Learn to Develop Your Sense of Timing

The odds of asking for a promotion or raise are in your favor with over 70 percent of respondents to a survey from PayScale reporting some success. One thing to keep in mind that can make all the difference is when you ask.

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Some corporate cultures may prefer that employees reach out about advancement during their annual review, but maybe you work for a more free-spirited startup. The best approach may be to take note of when others advance and ask about how the organization handles employee development.

16. Work Hard and Promote Yourself

Working hard and delivering a solid job performance are the keys to advancing in your career no matter what field you’re in. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely humble about your accomplishments either.

Keep a record of your positive impact within the organization and let others both within your company and your field know that you’re enthusiastic about your role and work.

17. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It

It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.

Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.

18. Join a Professional Organization

The National Association of (insert your industry here) and other professional organizations can still offer a great wealth of advantages from networking to industry insights, and skill development.

Even outside of professional organizations dedicated to particular job fields, civic organizations can also be fantastic for making new contacts. After all, so much about career advancement is who you know, and you never know who you’ll meet who knows somebody else who is looking for someone with your skills and experience.

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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