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Requirements for Medical School

To become a medical doctor, students must complete four years of medical school and three to eight years of internships and residencies. Students may want to select a medical school based on their desired specialty.

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Medical school consists of a mix of classroom and clinical training. If you want to become a doctor, finding a medical school that meets your educational needs is critical.

Top 10 Medical Schools: Primary Care

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked these ten institutions as the top ten medical schools for primary care in the United States:

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Washington Seattle, WA 4-year, public $33,519 in-state; $63,954 out-of-state
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 4-year, public $21,837 in-state; $48,716 out-of-state
University of California - San Francisco San Francisco, CA 4-year, public $32,751 in-state; $44,996 out-of-state
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, public $32,428 in-state; $50,854 out-of-state
University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE 4-year, public $28,482 in-state; $70,850 out-of-state
Oregon Health and Science University Portland, OR 4-year, public $39,196 in-state; $55,740 out-of-state
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, public $31,731 in-state; $43,976 out-of-state
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, private not-for-profit $53,575
Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX 4-year, private not-for-profit $19,650
University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN 4-year, public $37,872 in-state; $51,510 out-of-state

Source: *U.S. News & World Report

School Selection Criteria:

Students interested in medical schools may want to keep these considerations in mind:

  • Medical school can be expensive, so it is important to explore the costs and financial aid options at particular schools.
  • Medical school graduates who are looking for residency and/or fellowship opportunities should look for schools with strong offerings in their field of interest.
  • Prospective medical students should try to find more information about the hands-on training experiences available to medical students at the school. Some schools have teaching hospitals, while others provide clinical experience at other local healthcare facilities.
  • Graduates must be licensed before they can practice; this is only possible if your school is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.

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  • Medicine - MD

Doctor of Medicine (MD) Programs

After completing a bachelor's degree and fulfilling pre-medical coursework prerequisites, aspiring doctors can enroll in a four-year MD program. The first two years consist primarily of classroom and lab-based coursework, in which students take foundational courses in biomedical science as well as the ethical and legal aspects of practicing medicine. During the second two years, medical students get real-world experience through supervised training in clinical settings. At some schools, students with multiple academic interests can pursue an additional degree in conjunction with the MD, such as a research-based PhD, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Health (MPH) or Master of Public Policy (MPP).

Residency Programs

Once they graduate from medical school, students complete a residency in the field in which they eventually hope to practice. Possible specialization areas include internal medicine, dermatology, psychiatry, pediatrics, radiology and surgery. The length of these programs depends on the subject; they may last as few as three or as many as seven years. Over the course of these programs, residents get real-world training, and they may have the chance to attend seminars on relevant topics offered through the medical school. It is important to note that medical residents are paid for their work.

Fellowship Programs

After completing a medical residency, aspiring medical professionals can further specialize their education through a fellowship program. In these programs, students gain expertise in a particular subfield of the subject in which they completed their residency. For instance, individuals who did their residency in pediatrics may choose a fellowship in pediatric anesthesia, pediatric cardiology, pediatric oncology or pediatric surgery, among other fields. Fellowship programs are usually shorter than residencies, lasting for only one to three years.

Finding out about the ranking, financing, and unique academic opportunities of different medical schools can help you decide where you want to apply for admission. After finishing the MD program, you can find medical schools with residency and fellowship offerings in your field of interest.

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