How to Become a Doctor

How to Become a Doctor

Every parent hopes their kid becomes a doctor–doctors always have work, they make excellent money, and they provide a valuable service to whatever community they choose to work in. A career as a doctor is seen as secure and stable. Doctors practice in many different fields, in hospitals as well as private practice, and even in less traditional health care environments like military service or in schools or at universities.

As long as the population continues to increase (and people continue to live longer lives) there will always be a huge demand for work in the medical field. According to the US Department of Labor, work as a doctor is one of the fastest growing fields in the world, and more jobs for doctors should keep appearing until at least the year 2018. New technology combined with an older and fast-growing population means there’s always a demand for trained doctors.

How to Become a DoctorHow Much Do Doctors Make?

The amount of money you make as a doctor is most directly affected by the field of medicine you practice in. Here’s a guide to various doctor specializations and their range of annual salaries in the United States:

Family Practice: $120,000-$300,000
General Surgery: $200,000-$500,000
Pediatrics: $135,000-$300,000
Obstetrics & Gynecology: $200,00-$450,000
Neurology: $180,000-$325,000
Psychiatry: $120,000-$300,000
Emergency Medicine: $192,000-$295,000

These average salaries come from reports by the Department of Labor and are meant as a guide only. Some doctors working in these fields will make far more and some a little bit less.

So why the difference in pay between specializations? A number of factors contribute to higher pay for certain specialties. For the most part, doctors who earn more money went to school for longer than doctors who make less. More school means more expenses related to training, and these positions often require continued education.

Another factor in a doctor’s salary is how much they charge patients. Doctors who run a family practice don’t make nearly as much cash as surgeons because a surgeon’s services are more intricate and less common than a run-of-the-mill annual checkup performed by a family doctor.

A final (and major) factor in the amount of money a doctor makes is the amount of malpractice insurance a doctor has to have to protect himself from lawsuits.  Your family doctor doesn’t need as much protection as a brain surgeon, since brain surgery is a difficult field and one in which patients are more likely to die or be injured than your neighborhood doc. Doctors who have to carry a lot of insurance will naturally charge more for their services, leading to a higher salary.

The most lucrative position in all of medicine is orthopedic surgery. According to research done at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, this is because there are so few students waiting to fill jobs in these positions (and thus fewer orthopedic surgeons in the country) and because orthopedic surgery is a dangerous field in terms of malpractice insurance. If you’re looking to make big bucks, you should consider a career as an orthopedic surgeon. Average salary for this job is well over $500,000 a year, and surgeons just starting out in this field are making an average of $250,000.

How Long Do Doctors Go to School?

The short answers is that doctors go to school forever. The best doctors never stop learning about new medicines, new technology, and new ways to treat patients.

But if we’re talking about just their basic education, the answer depends (once again) on the specialty. Some doctors get by with the basic four years of “pre-med,” four years of medical school, then four to six years in “residency” at a hospital. IN other words, your basic run of the mill “doctor” has to attend at least twelve to fourteen years learning their trade.

In pre-med, future doctors learn the basics of biology and chemistry, do volunteer work and basic clinical work at hospitals and clinics, learn how to do proper research, and fulfill other basic course requirements as preparation for attending medical school. During medical school, doctors begin to specialize in a specific field while learning anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, genetics, ethics, and other advanced medical courses. At the end of medical school, a doctor will be awarded with a title such as MD or DO, though doctors still must undergo testing to get their medical license.

Residency is like graduate school for doctors. Residency is for students of medicine who have passed medical school and been certified and are ready to begin their careers as doctors. These students practice medicine under supervision usually in a hospital setting. Sometimes after a residency is completed, doctors will work on a fellowship, especially if they are interested in a specialty that requires extra study.

Finding Careers as a Doctor

Luckily for people who have received their certification or have experience working as a doctor, there is really no end to job opportunities. Doctors are in high demand in every state in the country and all over the world. There are even plenty of “temporary” jobs for doctors who are having trouble finding permanent work–these jobs are known as locum tenens positions and are open as long as a hospital or practice hasn’t found a permanent employee.

Doctors find work through many avenues: job postings on websites, word of mouth from friends who are doctors, and even regular old classified ads posted at job sites aimed at doctors. Sites like have tens of thousands of job openings posted for potential candidates in everything from psychiatry to emergency medicine. If you have an MD, you should have trouble finding work.

A life as a doctor can be rewarding both personally and financially. My own pediatrician worked in my hometown for 54 years, treating three and even four generations of the same family and making good money while he did it. If you’re trained as a medical doctor, in any field, you’ll never be without work opportunities. Just make sure you’re prepared for the long hours and difficult course of study it will take to earn you that white coat.

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