Becoming a doctor in the US: How long is medical school in the US?

Becoming a doctor in the US - How long is a medical school in the US

If you are wondering how long it takes to become a doctor in the US, this means you are already interested in becoming a doctor in the US! However, pursuing a medical profession requires a comprehensive understanding of the necessary time invested.  

It is a long journey, however, medicine is one of the best career paths for those who like to learn new things. In fact, it is the beginning of a lifetime educational and professional experience. 

Here, we present to you all the information needed for the path you must take to become a doctor in the US.   

Is it hard to become a doctor in the USA?

Is it hard to become a doctor in the USA

Becoming a doctor in the US might seem difficult, yet there is a huge number of schools that offer medical studies. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation,  there are slightly more than 900,000 physicians practicing medicine in the US. Although the number is massive, there is a constant need for more physicians. 

Although medical study and training in the US take a significant amount of time and money, job satisfaction and quality of life are high in this career. With sufficient funds and a motivated spirit, you can possibly be enrolled in one of the medical schools in the US. 

​​Doctors spend several years obtaining the knowledge and skills required to practice medicine in the US. Medical school preparation generally begins in high school, with a focus on math and science. 

However, before we discuss the duration of a medical degree, there are some basic steps or phases that need to be explained in detail to better understand how to compress your medical study journey.  

Steps to Becoming a doctor in the USA

Steps to Becoming a doctor in the USA

Studying medicine in the US requires a great amount of time and effort to get the best skills and knowledge. The following section explains the important steps and preparations for becoming a doctor in the US:

1.Complete an undergraduate education:

Unlike Uk medicine study, USA medical studies require completion of four years of undergraduate study. The study includes a pre-medical school course and obtaining a bachelor’s degree in in a relevant subject. For example, a degree in Biology, Chemistry or Neuroscienceز

2. Pass the MCAT examination:

MCAT is a standardized and multiple-choice exam for students assessing their likelihood of success in their program. In order to start your medical career in the US, you must register with the Medical College Admission for the MCAT test. Common subjects in this exam are chemistry, biological studies, physics, and human genetics.

3. Apply to medical school:

Students can apply to US medical school during the summer after their junior year in college. You can take a year off before applying if you want. Most medical schools in the US use the application processing service (AMCAS) of the American Medical Colleges. International students choose their preferred medical schools and submit a single application to AMCAS, which distributes it to each institution.

4. Complete training at medical school:

The medical school in the US includes classroom-based instruction in the sciences and clinical rotations. It is a full-time study that takes 4 years duration besides the bachelor’s degree.

5. Pass parts I & II of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (UNMLE):

Becoming a doctor in the US requires you to take and pass both parts of the UNMLE exam to practice medicine legally. It is a three-part examination taken during and after medical school in the US. The first part covers basic medical principles, taken before the third year of the study. The second part includes clinical diagnosis and disease development which is arranged in the fourth year of the student study.

6. Match with residency:

Students begin narrowing down their medical specialty selections during their last year of medical school (e.g. pediatrics, anesthesiology). For medical residency in the US, students apply for it and then they will be given matched medical residency programs throughout the country.

7. Graduate from medical school and start medical residency:

Newly appointed doctors in the US go from graduate schools to residency programs. They will be then provided with in-depth training on the selected specialization for at least 3 years.

8. Fellowships and Continuing Education:

It is an optional step (a subspecialty of residency) for those who finished their medical residency in the US and want to continue their study as a fellowship that lasts for 1-3 more years. Fellows in medicine are typically regarded as specialists in their fields. Practitioners must continue their education even after they are licensed to stay up to date with the newest in their profession.

9. Pass part III of UNMLE exam and finish residency:

As the last step, part three of the United States Medical Licensing Examination must be finished. It covers clinical management and examines the doctor’s competence to practice medicine in a safe and effective manner.

10. Earn board certification:

After finishing all of the above and getting a medical degree in the US, physicians can get a board certification based on their chosen area. It involves written and sometimes oral examinations. 

11. Get a state license:

Every state in the US has its own licensing requirements and procedures. Before entering the sector, trained and board-certified doctors must apply for state medical licensure.

 12. Apply for a job:

The final step of becoming a doctor in the US is to start searching for a job after graduation on the open market. Of course, you can start that during your medical residency so you can transit into full-time positions after your residencies end. Some others might be contacted through recruiters to fill a position.

 How long is a medical school in the US?

 How long is a medical school in the US

If you’re wondering how many years is medical school in the US, you should consider that before entering a medical school in the US you need to get a bachelor’s degree for 4 years. The degree includes pre-medical training and courses such as science in biology, chemistry, or organic chemistry.

In the United States, a medical degree is usually four years long, with a medical residency and sometimes a fellowship following that lasts approximately 3-7 years. For individuals interested in becoming doctors in the US, this might mean a total medical education of ten years or more.

What is the fastest way to become a doctor in the US?

A bachelor’s degree and medical school are a must and both require 8 years of study. The only way to shorten the time is by selecting a specialty that lasts only for 3 years. After graduating from medical school, the length of medical residency depends on the specialty you are interested in.

For example, if you pick a pediatric subspecialty, your residency will last five years, whereas surgery would take 6-7 years.

However, you will get your American medical license faster if you select shorter medical residency programs, such as family medicine, emergency medicine, pediatric medicine, and general internal medicine. This way Becoming a doctor in the US would be faster for you. 

Doctors salary in the US:

A physician’s career is one of the most prestigious and well-paid of all professions. Out of the 20 highest jobs in the US, doctors account for 42% (by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The average salary of medical professions in 2019 is $200,000 a year and can be doubled for surgeons and very specialized doctors ($400,000). Specialization, education, and location also play an important role in influencing doctors’ earnings in the US. 

The annual job growth and opening are also unpredictable depending on the location. For instance in California, the average annual job growth for 2020 is 15.72% while the job opening is 1060.

Easiest Medical Schools to get into in the USA

Easiest Medical Schools to get into in the USA

The process of receiving acceptance for a medical degree in the US for international students is almost the same as if you were an American citizen. In fact, the screening procedure is therefore tough and extremely competitive in medical schools. This makes admission very tough for candidates.

Some of these medical schools in the US, however, are less demanding than others:

  1. University of Mississippi Medical Center.
  2. University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Medicine.
  3. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport.
  4. University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine.
  5. The University of South Dakota Medical School.
  6. University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine.
  7. University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine.
  8. The University of Nevada – Reno.
  9. University of Nebraska Medical Center.
  10.  University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Lastly, getting into medical school in the US is possible with the preparations and right help and guidance. Becoming a doctor in the US is easier than what you think! and If you would like to apply for medical school in the US, we at Golden Gate can help you with all the application process. All you have to do is to fill up the request button and within 24 hours one of our advisors will contact you to guide and assist you in all procedures!


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