A standard Medical school last for four years. Still, it all depends on the institution, if you decide to take additional courses or a leave of absence, or chase after an additional training like a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) degree.
Pursuing a medical degree is not a child’s plaything, one has to be committed and show all seriousness to the task of fighting diseases and promoting wellness.
However, anyone who dreams of becoming a doctor after spending four years in a typical medical school one has to receive either an M.D. or D.O degree to go on to the next phase of their medical training, commonly a residency in their desired speciality, such as surgery or radiology.
Obtaining an M.D. degree usually takes only 4-years. At the same time, physicians are also required to complete their training in a residency program, which last for about an additional 7-years, depending on the area of speciality.
Even after their residency program, some go into sub-speciality fellowship training programs to focus on a particular niche of medical specialities, such as someone who wants to develop expertise in treating a specific type of cancer unlike some who are generalist oncologist who treats all kinds of cancer, will typically complete a fellowship in addition to a residency program.
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Year One & Two
The first 2-years of medical school are more of a classroom and lab time. Students take classes in basic sciences, such as anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology. They are also taught the basics of interviewing and examining a patient.
Typically, students take various disciplines ranging from four or five courses at some time. But, most schools focus on a single subject for a shorter period—like, three or four weeks—before moving to another subject.
Some schools, on the other hand, take an interdisciplinary approach to preclinical coursework, in which each class focuses on a single organ, examining all the anatomy, pharmacology, pathology and behaviour relevant to that system.
At the end of the second year, you’ll take a three-step test called the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), also known as the board exam.
Year Three & Four: Clinical Experience
The third and fourth year in the medical school, students are rotated at hospitals and clinics associated with their school, as well as taking and passing USMLE Step 2. This can be considered as when the real fun of studying medicine starts!
So instead of spending time in a lecture hall, classroom, or lab, the medical students spend more time in the hospitals. Students involve in rotations assist resident doctors in a particular speciality, such as surgery, radiology, paediatrics, neurology, internal medicine or psychiatry.
During this period, you’ll be exposed to general patient care and a variety of specialities over a wide range of patient populations.
Some rotation, such as Internal Medicine, are required at all programs, others have more unique clerkship requirements. The more time you spend in a rotation will determine the hospital’s focus or strength.
Some schools take three to four weeks to complete rotations, while others take up to three months. The nature of the hospital you find yourself will help to expand your experience.
If the hospital is located in an urban setting, you can be sure that your experience will increase, as you can expect added experience with trauma, emergency medicine, or infectious disease, as well as exposure to various patient populations.
By the end of the third year, you should be able to consider and develop the skills that will help you to pick the type of residency programs to pursue.
Fourth and Final Year: Residency Matching
The Clinical rotations will continue through the fourth and final year of medical school. It is typical to pursue an optional course that fit long-term career interests and strengthen an application to residency programs. This is a usual period to complete sub-internships, also known as “audition rotation.”
During these periods, performance in a preferred speciality may be examined carefully and evaluated. I may serve as a significant advantage in your letter of recommendation or even secure a position in the speciality program for continued training after graduation.
These rotations can as well take place in any institution across the country, creating a chance for an audition to an outside program that may be appealing for residency training.
While clinical rotations are in progress, it is advisable also to prepare the residency applications. Just as how medical school’s applications are submitted through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), noticeable residency programs are picked, and applications are submitted through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).
The application usually opens around the first week of September, and the residency programs can begin to receive applications in the middle of the month—let’s say 15th of September.
In gathering the applications, medical students are to choose their preferred residency programs and rank them. After in-person interviews are done, which typically happens between October and February, these programs will submit their own best ranking applicants.
According to a computer algorithm that differentiates these two sets of rankings, it will be possible to determine the best match between a candidate and an open residency position.
During the Match Day ceremony, which usually takes place in March, medical students all over the country will open an envelope to learn their residency match and where they will spend the next years of their lives finalizing the essential medical training.
Life after Medical School
After medical school, most programs begin at the beginning of July, with an orientation at the end of June. Fresh medical doctors may have time off to help them get used to their new programs.
At the first year of residency, more time will be dedicated in preparation for the last exam called the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which is Step 3.
This is the final exam that all students must take seriously about obtaining an official medical license; it is also useful in becoming recognized by the state medical board. It will grant you the power to practice medicine without supervision.
The last part of this required 3-step testing, is to have clinical medical knowledge, and how it is applied in an outpatient setting. This exam is considered as the most challenging test, and it is typically taken at the end of the first year, or during the second year, of the residency program.
Getting into a medical school sounds exciting, but there are some things to consider before deciding whether or not to go. Here are some disadvantages of a medical school.
Disadvantages of Going to a Medical School
- The application process is long and tiring.
- Cost of attending a medical school is on a high.
- Students find it difficult for getting loans.
- Medical school takes long to complete, unlike another typical undergraduate course.
- The difficulty level is higher than in other undergraduate courses.
- After medical school, you will have a limited social life.
- After medical school, you will work at odd hours.
In conclusion, do your research and make sure you are fully prepared for the task ahead.