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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 March 25, 2020

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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  • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
  • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
  • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
  • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

For Changing a Job

  1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
  2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
  3. Get a raise.
  4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
  5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
  6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
  7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
  8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
  9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
  10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

For Switching Career Path

  1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
  2. Find a mentor.
  3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
  4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
  5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
  6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
  7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
  8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
  9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
  10. Create a financial plan.

For Getting a Promotion

  1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
  2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
  3. Become a mentor.
  4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
  5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
  6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
  7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
  8. Become a better communicator.
  9. Find new ways to be a team player.
  10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

For Acing a Job Interview

  1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
  2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
  3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
  4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
  5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
  6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
  7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
  8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
  9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
  10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

Career Goal Setting FAQs

I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

4. Can I have several career goals?

It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

Summary

You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

  • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
  • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
  • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
  • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
  • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

More Tips About Setting Work Goals

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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