Becoming a doctor is an exciting journey – that’s why you chose this career path. You don’t just become a doctor overnight…there are some steps you have to follow to reach the top of your career.
Each one is essential and has been designed specifically for the well-being of the patients and to make sure the United States attains the highest standards of medical care.
Now that you are looking forward to becoming a doctor in the US, what are some of the steps you should take?
The Becoming a Physician Journey: A Step-By-Step Guide
For you to work and live in the United States, here’s the journey you have to take.
1. Curriculum Completion in Foundational Sciences
If you are a US student, first, you need to complete your undergraduate studies. Your undergrad will comprise a Bachelor’s degree and pre-medical studies.
For international studies, the journey begins typically in your home country. You must complete an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery). During the MBBS degree, you can also complete electives, clerkships or observerships to earn the much-needed hands-on experience.
2. Pass the United States Medical Licensing Exams (USMLEs)
The second step is all about passing the USMLE. If you are an American student, then you take this exam towards the end of your four-year medical school career. However, if you are an international student, you will take the USMLE once you are done with your MBBS program.
USMLE: Understanding the Basics
To determine whether you have passed the minimum standard for patient care, the USMLE exam involves a few steps:
USMLE Step 1
In this Step, the exam will test your understanding of the primary health sciences. For US students, this comes early – you will be tested at the end of your second year in medical school. On the other hand, this Step marks the beginning of your physician journey in the US if you are an international student.
USMLE Step 2
This Step involves two huge components:
- USMLE Step 2 CK: Clinical Knowledge (CK) – Step 2 CK will test whether you can apply medical knowledge. Normally, this is done under the supervision of a physician
- USMLE Step 2 CS: Clinical Science (CS) – Step 2 CS, on the other hand, will require you to travel to a testing center within the US. During this time, you will be tested on how well you can handle 12 standardized patients
USMLE Step 3
This is usually the final exam in the licensing process. This Step examines your ability to:
- Manage a patient
- Assess physical exam info and the medical history of a patient
- Carry out diagnosis tests
- Order initial treatment
Once you are done with this Step, you can practice medicine in the US without supervision.
Usually, many US students take Step 3, way after they have become residents. For IMGs, you can take Step 3 before you apply to the residency program to enhance your chances, especially if you didn’t do well in Steps 1 and 2.
For IMGs, the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) will issue you an ECFMG certificate once you are through with Steps 1 and 2. This certificate proves your readiness and competence to apply for a US Residency Program.
3. Complete Your Residency Program
This is the final step before you can apply for board licensure. For you to be admitted into this program, you must apply and get matched to a residency. US students will do this during their fourth year, while the IMGs will apply for the Match once they have passed USMLE and earned an ECFMG certificate.
Despite the journey being tough and long, it is manageable. That’s why we’ve put down these steps to guide you throughout your medical journey. With these steps, you will be well-equipped to conquer the US market. Is it worth the hassle? You will be the judge.