Getting a Medical Career
Careers in the medical field are varied and abundant. We've put together a set of medical career resources that span the range of options from office staff, nursing, EMTs, physician assistants and all variety of physicians. Below is a brief overview of what it takes for each of these areas, and resources to you help you investigate the fields.
Medical Careers: Physicians
To be a physician, you must complete 4 years of undergraduate training, spend 4 years in medical school, and 3-7 years as an intern and resident. If you plan on sub-specializing, you'll have to do a fellowship - usually 1-2 years more.
Getting into medical school is not a cake-walk. The "magic number" for medical school admissions is an undergraduate grade point average 3.6 and an MCAT score (Medical College Admission Test) of 30 or more. Doing well in college is a must because competition for the limited number of spots in medical is imperative. If you do succeed in getting in, chances are good you'll graduate: 95% of students complete their medical education.
To get a medical license, you'll need to complete your MD, and pass the 3 steps of the USMLE (U.S. Medical Licensing Exam) during the 2nd and 4th years of medical school and your internship year. The tests are difficult, but 90% of students eventually pass. As a side note, many of the requirements for MDs are also options for DO physicians (osteopathic medicine).
Once you're licensed, you have many options:
Physician Employment: Trends and options for physician jobs and employment in the US healthcare system.
Locum Tenens: These are short term positions for physicians - find out the benefits and drawbacks
Physician Job Resources: This is a set of resources for the job-hunting physician, including physician recruiters and placement firms.
Medical Careers: Nurses
There are a number of medical careers available in nursing. Some nursing students start out as Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) which requires the completion of a short study program. Some medical facilities, such as nursing homes, will even cover the costs of your CNA training.
A second choice is working as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Like most medical careers, this one does require college study but it can be completed at most vocational schools. LPNs usually work closely with other nurses and with physicians to provide care for patients.
At the top of nursing medical careers is the Registered Nurse (RN). The RN completes either a 2- or a 4-year degree program, then must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed. RNs who complete the four-year program are usually paid more than those who opt for a 2-year degree. You can learn more about choosing medical careers in nursing by visiting any of our nursing education resources:
Medical Careers: Office Staff
If you want to work in the health care industry, but would prefer something requiring less education, less patient care, and shorter hours, then training to be part of the office staff may be an ideal choice. Medical careers in transcription, coding, and billing all begin with some basic training which you can usually receive from a vocational college in just two years. To learn more about medical careers in these fields, visit any of the following pages: medical transcription schools, medical coding schools, or medical billing schools.