Career Advice

How to Be a Physician in 9 Easy Steps

A physician is a health care provider who examines patients, makes diagnoses, and recommends a prescription and other treatment options. Physicians can work in a variety of places, such as healthcare facilities, private clinics, surgery centers, and the military. You must seek a high degree of formal training, complete practical clinical training, obtain a state license to practice medicine, and develop several critical skills required for this patient-facing vocation.

This post examines what a physician does, what it takes to become a physician, how much you should expect to make as a physician and other frequently asked questions about this profession.

What exactly do physicians do?

Physicians are trained medical professionals who help patients with medical ailments, accidents, and illnesses by diagnosing and treating them. To provide top-notch treatment, physicians must put the well-being of their patients first in all they do. Among the many responsibilities of a physician are the following:

  • Evaluating individuals by conducting thorough physical examinations
  • Compiling patient histories for use in print or digital patient records
  • Ordering necessary diagnostic tests such as radiography, imaging, and tests on tissue samples and blood samples.
  • Diagnosing through the interpretation of test results
  • Collaborating with a group of healthcare professionals to develop a suitable treatment and therapeutic plan
  • Recommending medicines and medical equipment
  • Discussing patient concerns, educating patients on their ailments and conditions, and, as needed, directing them toward additional therapy
  • Executing procedures such as minor surgeries, putting broken bones in place, and stitching wounds
  • Participating in gatherings, conferences, and continuous education activities
  • Participating in clinical and scientific studies

The typical pay for a physicians

Physicians’ pay is often influenced by their job status, expertise in medicine, number of hours worked per week, amount of knowledge and certification, and location.

  • American average yearly salary: $200,867
  • The annual salary ranges from $47,000 to $460,000.

What are the prospects for medical physicians’ careers?

Physicians have a lot of responsibilities and must devote a lot of time and money to their education because medicine is such a highly competitive and demanding field. The need for physicians will rise over the next few years as the healthcare industry expands.

If you follow the instructions below properly, you shouldn’t have trouble obtaining work as a physician.

Using information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, let’s examine the future of medical practitioners and surgeons:

  • 2020 Average Salary: More than or equivalent to $208,000 annually
  • (2020–30) Employment Growth Rate: 3%, below the average

You should be aware that depending on the type of physician you desire to be, your compensation and job outlook may differ. If you have a specific specialty in mind (like rheumatology or dermatology), I strongly advise you to study the expected job future in that area of medicine.

How to Become a Physician

Years of formal medical training and education are necessary to become a physician, as well as a specialization in a medical field, board certification, license, and ongoing training and education. It would help if you carried out the actions listed below:

  • Obtain a related undergraduate degree after completing your studies
  • Gain admission to medical school by passing the test
  • Enter medical schools
  • Complete your medical education
  • Attempt the licensing test
  • Participate in a residency program
  • Obtain a medical license to work in your state.
  • Obtain more certifications
  • Create a cover letter and resume

1. Perform well in high school

You’ll do yourself a lot of good if you become more focused in high school if you’re serious about becoming a physician. Because of the high level of competition in this profession, it will be simpler for you to stand out as a strong student early on.

Here are some things you may do in high school to get ready for college.

  • Concentrate on math and science

You’ll need to enroll in a lot of science and math classes to complete all pre-med prerequisites in school (We’ll discuss that in a moment). Lay a strong foundation by enrolling in a mathematics and science course each year and making advanced and/or AP classes a priority. Additionally, it would be best if you strived to maintain a high GPA in both these and all other classes.

It gives you a small taste of what school and med college will look like, which makes it a crucial step. It is unlikely that you will enjoy mathematics and science courses in college if you do not love them in high school. Take this as a chance to consider carefully whether you want to pursue this profession.

  • Engage in a lot of volunteer work

It takes more than simply being an expert in science and arithmetic to be a successful physician; you also need to care deeply about other people. Volunteering often while in high school will demonstrate your commitment to helping others.

It’s ideal if you can perform volunteer work that has some connection to the medical field. You could check to see if a local hospital or clinic has any openings (For instance, in high school, I had acquaintances who assisted in escorting individuals who were seeing relatives in hospitals). Additionally, you may be able to decide quite early on thanks to these volunteer programs whether a profession in healthcare is something you would be truly interested in.

Of course, you are not required to volunteer only in hospital settings; any opportunity for community service where you’re assisting others is a fantastic fit.

  • Obtain a Top ACT/SAT Score

Attending a top college can help you get into a top med school. Additionally, having a good SAT/ACT score will help you get into a top university.

By the conclusion of your junior year, you should prepare for your first test; this will give you time to retake your preferred test if you wish to attempt to improve your results.

  • Submit outstanding applications to colleges

The fall of your senior year will be devoted to college research and applications. Although you don’t have to attend a college with a focused pre-med program, it will be preferable if your university or school offers strong scientific and math departments, since these will be more beneficial in assisting you in preparing for the MCAT and medical school.

You must include the following information on your application if you wish to attend a prestigious private school:

  • A good GPA
  • Outstanding SAT/ACT scores
  • Strong recommendation letters
  • Insightful and well-crafted personal essays

Some top public schools don’t require recommendation letters or application essays. However, suppose you believe you’ll apply to any universities that do require them. In that case, it’s a good idea to start getting ready for these materials as early as possible in the application process for college.

2. Obtain an appropriate undergraduate degree and graduate from college.

Your concentration on academics and preparation for a future in medicine begins in college. You should take the step as an undergraduate to prepare for the next crucial step on your path to becoming a doctor: med school.

Getting an undergraduate degree in a suitable discipline, like a pre-medical program that offers coursework in chemistry, biology, and physics, is the first step. If you have completed the necessary science prerequisites, such as physiology and anatomy, chemistry, advanced mathematics, statistics, and laboratory coursework, you may also be accepted to medical school with a major that is not on the pre-med track.

  • Complete Pre-Medical Requirements

The majority of medical schools have a list of courses that applicants must have taken as undergrads. This makes sure that they have solid scientific and mathematical grounding and that they are well-equipped for the more challenging courses classical students will need to take.

The following are the prerequisites for the majority of medical colleges:

  • Two lab-based semesters of biology
  • Two lab-based terms of inorganic chemistry
  • Two lab-based semesters of organic chemistry
  • Math courses for two terms (a minimum of one in calculus)
  • Two lab-based semesters of physics
  • Two semesters of writing or English

This amounts to a minimum of 12 required courses, which doesn’t leave you much leeway if you also need to fulfill prerequisites for a major with little pre-medical overlap (for instance, a second language or creative art). As a result, many pre-med students select related degrees like biology or chemistry, which makes it much simpler to fulfill both the criteria for pre-med and your major.

Don’t worry if you decide to go to medical school later in college but realize you won’t have enough time to meet all the prerequisites. People sometimes complete pre-med prerequisites by enrolling in an additional semester or two of college (some institutions refer to these pupils as “super seniors.)”

If you still need to meet a lot of criteria, you could also consider full-time post-bachelor courses. These options require more time and money, but they are helpful (and occasionally essential) steps to take before applying to medical school.

  • Maintain a good grade.

Your academic achievement should be your top priority as you proceed through college because your transcript will play a significant role in how well you apply to medical schools.

  • Develop Bonds With Teachers and Mentors

Use the knowledge that you’ll need a few impressive recommendation letters from reputable academic staff when you present your medical school applications as inspiration to network widely.

By attending their office hours, contributing in class, and taking advantage of the chance to engage in research projects, students can establish relationships with their instructors and mentors.

  • Become more familiar with research

For medical school applications, possessing research experience is a huge bonus, particularly if you can fit in a paper or two. The most beneficial experience for med school would be working in a biology or chemistry lab.

There are a few options for undergraduates to gain research experience:

Work as a paid or unpaid research assistant in a lab on campus or at a company off campus. For information on potential lab positions, check out the campus job advertisements or speak with certain instructors in your department. Consider summer job opportunities if you do not have any time throughout the semester to take on additional work.

Complete a research-intensive undergraduate thesis. Typically, for this to happen, a professor must formally accept you as one of their students. If you’re interested in this path, start educating yourself early on (i.e., throughout your rookie year) because each school (and each dept. inside a school) will have different policies and procedures for undergraduate theses.

3. Succeed on the exam for admission to a medical college.

Before applying to the med colleges of your choosing, you must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and pass it. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) administers the exam, which includes multiple-choice questions to gauge your knowledge. This enables the medical colleges you are considering to assess and forecast your likelihood of finishing your doctoral degree. To assist students in studying for the examination and getting the highest possible score, the AAMC offers a variety of study resources.

4. Apply to medical schools

Since getting into medical school is extremely difficult, you should strive for a minimum GPA of 3.5 in your undergraduate studies. Additionally, you want to acquire pertinent medical experience to strengthen your application. Possibilities for research work, voluntary work, internships, or shadowing may be advantageous. This experience might set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your commitment and seriousness about learning. These extracurriculars and their effect on your skills, knowledge, and dedication can be discussed in your letter of recommendation, which you submit with your application to med college.

5. Finish your medical education

A medical doctorate (M.D.) or a doctorate in osteopathic medicine (D.O.) are prerequisites for becoming a doctor. Both types of doctors employ identical techniques for administering medications and performing surgeries, but those with a D.O. certification place more emphasis on whole-person patient safety, the musculoskeletal system, and the value of preventative medicine.

Both medical degrees require four years of full-time study. Chemistry, anatomy and physiology, Biology, laboratory work, medical law and ethics, and clinical practice are the main topics of the first two years. In the following two years, you will complete clinical rotations, which are supervised practice sessions in a variety of fields in which you’ll be in charge of providing patient care. You can choose to focus on a particular area, like pediatrics, neurology, obstetrics, or critical care, as you advance through your clinical rotations.

6. Pass the licensing test

Before beginning clinical rotations, you must complete the first section of the USMLE in your second year of study. This exam measures your understanding to determine whether you are sufficiently prepared to begin clinical rotations. Before starting to practice medicine without a license, you must pass Part 2 of the USMLE to prove that you are a skilled doctor. Typically, this portion of the exam is given around the conclusion of your medical degree course or soon after.

7. Start a residential training course

After graduating from medical school, you must enroll in residency training in the field of your choice if you want to become a doctor. The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), run by the American Association of Medical Colleges, is used to assign residencies.

Although they can occur in any medical setting, residencies typically take place in hospitals. Depending on the specialization, the duration of the programs varies, but you may anticipate spending three to eight years on this aspect of your training. You receive further instruction in difficult and uncommon ailment treatment, cutting-edge diagnostic methods, and methodologies specific to your area of specialization.

8. Obtain a state-issued license to practice medicine.

You need to have a medical license from the jurisdiction where you want to work to legally practice medicine. You must also have completed med school, residency training, and other related requirements. If you’re a medical doctor, you must take the USMLE’s final section, or if you’re a doctor of osteopathic medicine, you must pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). For information on prerequisites in your state, get in touch with the state medical board as they differ by state. All demand yearly license renewal and credit hours for continuous education.

9. Acquire more certifications

Physicians are not required to have certifications, but having one may assist you to have more work options available to you. Physicians who devote to an extensive residency of a maximum of seven years and who pass an examination are eligible for certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Certificates show that you are a doctor who is dedicated to providing excellent patient care and is knowledgeable in your field of medicine.

10. Create a cover letter and resume.

After completing the preceding steps, you are prepared to write your cover letter and resume and start your physician job search. Aim to give each job application careful thought, and meticulously tailor your resume to the needs of the employer. The probability of being chosen for an interview can be increased by taking this action. Include details on your clinical experience, test scores you particularly did well on, any honors or grants you have received, and quantifiable accomplishments. Your goal is to demonstrate the qualities that make you a standout applicant.


Getting into med college is incredibly competitive, and even after graduating, there is still a significant amount of education to complete, so becoming a physician is undoubtedly not for everybody. However, you now possess the knowledge you need to get off to a good start if you choose to pursue a career in medicine.

Frequently Asked Questions about Physicians

If you’re considering this career path, look over these commonly asked questions to find out more about how being a physician:

1. What are some alternate career options?

There are many career options outside of physician assistant because the healthcare industry is broad and diverse. Below are a few alternative professions to take into account:

  • Pharmacist

$52.48 is the average hourly wage in the country.

The main responsibilities of these specialists include understanding how pharmaceuticals are used, the conditions they can cure, how they work, and how they interact with meals and other prescription medicines. Additionally, they offer suggestions for simple medical problems, over-the-counter treatments, or physician referrals.

  • Registered nurse

$108,569 is the yearly average salary in the nation.

A registered nurse is a highly trained and skilled nursing expert who is competent to carry out patient care tasks that are in many ways similar to those of a doctor, such as patient examinations, diagnosing diseases, illnesses, and injuries, and dispensing treatments and medications.

  • Director of medicine

$217,641 is the average yearly salary across the nation.

The main responsibilities of medical directors are to supervise various teams working in clinics and hospitals, coordinate their efforts, and provide good patient care while staying within budget.

2. What soft skills are required of physicians?

Since you will be interacting with patients directly and other medical professionals, you need to possess several soft skills and attributes to succeed in the position, such as:

  • Empathy and compassion: Your patients are unwell or damaged, and they may be emotionally distraught and in pain. You must show them empathy and comprehend what they might be going through. To make them feel at ease with the care they will be receiving, you must inspire confidence in them.
    • Active listening: You should pay close attention to everything the patient and their loved ones say.
    Any information could be crucial to determining the patient’s condition and launching a treatment plan. You’ll need to remember the answers to any pertinent concerns you have. When working with other medical specialists to give patients thorough and secure healthcare, you can also engage in active listening.
    • Analysis and problem-solving: Even under great time constraints in a critical care emergency, you will need to apply problem-solving abilities to assess symptoms and deliver the appropriate treatment. To use them when necessary, you must be aware of the most recent advancements in medical science and more tested therapeutic approaches. Pay close attention: You are responsible for keeping track of patient treatments, and vital signs, and changing medicine as necessary. You must make sure that the right dosages of prescription medications are given, and that the smallest alteration in symptoms or heart rhythm is noted and treated accordingly.
    • Communication: You will be required to communicate with other members of the medical team as well as your patients. To ensure that your requirements are satisfied and the patients get the finest treatment possible, you need to be a great communicator.
  • 3. Are there any associations just for physicians?

Physicians have a variety of medical associations to choose from. By keeping you abreast of medical news and giving you access to networking and continuing educational resources, membership can enable you further your career. You ought to be able to locate a group that specializes in this branch of medicine based on your area of specialization. These professional associations include, among others:

  • Association of Family Doctors in America
  • United States College of Emergency Medicine
  • College of American Physicians
  • Medical Specialty Societies Council
  • Internal Medicine American Society

4. How would you describe the working atmosphere for doctors?

Hospitals, clinics, specialized care units, private and public clinics, military bases, neighborhood medical centers, and urgent care facilities are just a few of the healthcare settings where doctors can find work. Even in the fields of education or online healthcare, remote employment is an option. The position is typically full-time and may involve following a shift schedule to provide emergency care around the clock.

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