It can take a long time to become a doctor in most countries. It’s moreover important to research specific requirements in the country where the person will work or train as a doctor. These can truly vary and may not always be transferable from one country to another without additional work.
In places like the US, students must get into college and complete a four-year Bachelor of Science degree, preferably in pre-med. Pre-med isn’t always required and some people can take related science degrees like biology or chemistry instead. Usually, it helps to attend a good quality school, and get superior grades, at least a 3.5 grade point average.
Equally important is score on tests to get into medical school, called the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). Questions on the MCAT include many on biological and physical sciences and a section on verbal reasoning. High scores on this test plus solid grades help to increase the chance of acceptance to a medical school. If you're considering taking the MCAT, here are upcoming MCAT testing dates.
Medical school takes three to four years, and those doctors going immediately into general practice must also complete a year of training thereafter. Once this is training is over, people can take certifying examinations to get licensure. Many people wish to specialize and end up completing several more years of additional training, and take other certifying exams to work as things like pediatricians, obstetricians, or surgeons.
The educational requirements are significant for those who want to become a doctor, but they are not the only requirements necessary. There are some practical things needed too. For instance, except for very few people, most people will pay lots of money in order to become a doctor and attend the various schools involved. This means either having a source of income with which to meet education costs or being able to qualify for loans or financial aid. Even with financial aid, most new doctors end up owing a considerable amount of money from schooling costs.
If a person plans to become a doctor in another country from the one he/she trained in, there may be additional requirements. These may include proving that training in another country was equivalent and taking all exams that are required to license a physician within another country or state. Another common requirement is demonstrated proficiency in the legal language of that country. For instance, a person who became a doctor in Mexico might need to show proficiency in English to practice in America.
Since requirements to become a doctor can change, it’s important to stay on top of any new laws, exams or licensing regulations that may apply. Speaking to the licensing board about becoming a doctor is a good way to proceed, but it can also help to speak to medical schools and people like college counselors to help improve chances of becoming a doctor. Even with good grades, a way to fund school, and high test scores, this career requires stamina and great sacrifice, and the field is competitive. Not everyone who goes to medical school becomes a doctor and not all people who would potentially be good doctors make it into medical school or through training thereafter.