How Do I Get a Doctor of Medicine Degree?

A doctor of medicine degree is awarded to students of medicine who have successfully met the graduation requirements of either an allopathic or an osteopathic medical school. Graduates of allopathic medical schools are the more commonly known medical doctors, or MDs. Osteopathic medical school graduates are known as doctors of osteopathy, or DOs, and typically specialize in broader areas of medical practice, such as general practice (GP) or family practice. To earn a doctor of medicine degree, students must first complete a four-year undergraduate degree, as well as earn high scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT®) to enter medical school. They must then complete another four years of education in medical school.

While "doctor" is a popular response to the timeless query, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" few of the children answering so enthusiastically understand the requirement that they remain in school for approximately as long as they have been alive. Not only is a high school diploma required, but the student must usually demonstrate above-average academic performance should medical school admission committees decide to explore a student's history back into high school. During this time, a high school student must also study for and successfully complete the standardized college admissions examination — the SAT® — in order to apply to colleges and universities for her planned undergraduate degree. Although US medical schools admit students from all accredited colleges and having earned almost every type of major, a small number of colleges and universities do demonstrate a higher rate of graduate acceptance into doctor of medicine degree programs. Some students apply to these specific undergraduate schools to improve their chances of admission to medical school.

Most students study for and take the MCAT® examination while still undergraduates as these scores are part of the medical school admission process. In addition to undergraduate grades and MCAT® scores, medical schools also consider technical standards — these include aspects of student character, demonstrated ability to work under stressful conditions, physical abilities, and emotional resilience. If their applications meet the minimum standards, medical school applicants seeking a doctor of medicine degree must also complete a written application and face-to-face interviews. Once a student has achieved admission to a medical school program, four years of intense classroom and clinical study must be completed prior to earning a doctor of medicine degree.


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