What to Expect as a Medical Student: Your Medical Education and the Process of Becoming a Doctor

Once you are accepted and register for a medical school, you should withdraw any applications you submitted to other schools. You will probably still be attending college and completing your Bachelor's degree. You may be tempted to withdraw from your undergraduate program so you can have a few months of freedom before beginning the grueling years ahead. Don't do it! Firstly, the medical school has probably admitted you with the understanding that you will be completing your degree, and secondly, just in case you don't get through med school, you'll want to have that diploma in hand. However, unless you were instructed to take or re-take some specific class, you can probably get away with taking the easiest classes you can to still obtain your degree. After all, the next seven years or so will almost certainly be the toughest of your life.

Your Medical Education: The First and Second Year Medical School Curriculum

The first two years of your medical education will be spent in the classroom. The sheer volume of what you must learn will probably overwhelm you for the first few months, but US medical schools grade on a pass/fail basis and surprisingly, over 97% of entering students graduate in 4 years with an MD degree. Basic medical science curricula in the first and second year vary from school to school, but will include the following courses or similar subjects:

Gross Anatomy
Biochemistry
Microscopic Anatomy
Human Embryology
Behavioral Medicine
Molecular Biology
Human Genetics
Medical Neuroscience
Medical Ethics and Humanities
Physiology
Physical Diagnosis

Second year courses include the following:
Microbiology and Immunology
Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Introduction to Clinical Medicine and Physical Diagnosis
Clinical Correlation
Pharmacology
Advanced Physical Diagnosis

Upon completion of the second year of the medical school curriculum, you must take the first part of the three-part exam, the United States Medical Licensing Examination, or USMLE, Step 1. You must pass the three parts of this exam with a minimum score to become licensed to practice medicine in the United States. Most schools include classes to prepare you to sit for this exam which you must pass before continuing on to your third year. Step 2 is administered after your fourth year of medical education and must be passed before residency, and Step 3 is taken prior to completion of residency to gain licensure.

Click here for USMLE resources, sample test, strategies and more.

 

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