How Long Does It Take To Become A Physician?

Depending on the specialization you select, the length of time needed to become a physician may vary. The length of time spent in a residency program after receiving your undergraduate degree and graduating from medical school depends on the specialization you choose. 

Before deciding to pursue a profession as a doctor, give it some thought as to whether you’re prepared to improve your medical education beyond a four-year bachelor degree. 

At times, there is a need for newly graduated physicians (or younger physicians). The belief is that a physician who is just starting out in their career will stay in a job they are recruited for longer than a physician who is more experienced (or older physician)

In this piece, we discuss how long it takes to become a doctor and how to meet the prerequisites for this line of employment.

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Who is a Physician?

Physicians and surgeons deal with health management as well as the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and injuries. Doctors evaluate their patients, record their medical histories, prescribe prescriptions, order, carry out, and interpret diagnostic tests. They frequently give patients advice on nutrition, cleanliness, and preventative healthcare. 

A medical professional who practices medicine is known as a physician (in American English), medical practitioner (in Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or simply doctor. Medicine is the study, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. 

In general practice, which is the practice of providing ongoing and comprehensive medical care to individuals, families, and communities, physicians concentrate on specific disease categories, patient types, and treatment modalities.

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What is a Physician School Like?

A combination of classroom and lab time makes up the first two years of medical school. Students take courses in fundamental sciences such pathology, pharmacology, biochemistry, anatomy, and microbiology. Additionally, they study the fundamentals of speaking with and examining a patient. 

In the past, students took four or five courses concurrently from several areas. Some schools, on the other hand, concentrate on a single subject for a shorter period of time—say, let’s three or four weeks—before switching to another.

 Pre-clinical curriculum at certain institutions is taught transdisciplinary, with each class focusing on a different organ and covering its anatomy, pharmacology, disease, and behavior. You’ll take the USMLE at the conclusion of the second year.

Third- and fourth-year medical students complete rotations at clinics and hospitals connected to their institution before taking (and passing) the USMLE Step 2 exam. In a particular speciality, such as surgery, pediatrics, internal medicine, or psychiatry, students on rotations help residents.

 You’ll likely feel something between a skilled apprentice and a thoughtless laborer at this time. You’ll engage in patient interaction, carry out routine medical procedures, and complete any jobs the resident doesn’t want to accomplish. 

All programs must complete some rotations, including internal medicine, but some have more specialized clerkship requirements. The hospital’s concentration or strength will determine how long you spend in a rotation.

The surgery rotation lasts three weeks at some schools and three months at others. Your experience will also be influenced by the hospital’s personality. 

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If the environment is urban, you might anticipate more exposure to patients from a variety of backgrounds and more experience with trauma, emergency medicine, or infectious diseases. 

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Is Attending a Medical School Worth it?

It takes a lot of time and effort to become a doctor, and frequently, debt is involved. Therefore, aspiring doctors must carefully examine if the advantages of a profession in medicine outweigh the difficulties. 

People may believe that they already know what a doctor entails: prestige, other people’s respect, and excitement. While it can be all of those things when they actually start working, not everyone will have the same experience. 

Some people find out too late that becoming a doctor isn’t all they had hoped it would be, and once they’ve begun their training, they feel stuck because they’ve racked up so much debt from student loans and have to finish what they started in order to be able to pay it off.

Medical professionals generally agree that it is inappropriate for someone whose main motive is to get a big salary. 

You spend your entire life to a career in medicine because you sincerely care about helping people. 

The closest thing to sacred work one may do outside of a place of religion is to practice medicine. Holy service includes easing suffering, reducing pain, and assisting those in need to delay, to the greatest extent possible, premature death. 

A calling in medicine. Although one of the enjoyable aspects of the job is helping patients, doctors occasionally run into frustrating circumstances. 

One benefit of becoming a doctor is having the chance to perform a necessary service, though dealing with the commercialization of health care isn’t easy. 

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What Schooling Do You Need to Become a  Physician?

Throughout the duration of their employment, doctors maintain their education.


A student who wants to be a doctor in college takes science classes including biology, physics, and chemistry. Before applying to medical school, a 4-year college bachelor’s degree is typically necessary.

Medical College 

Typically, medical school lasts four years. The first two years of school are frequently spent primarily in a classroom. Health and sickness are topics that are covered in class. They study subjects like the respiratory (lung), circulatory (heart and blood vessel), and neurological (brain and nerve) systems. 

Teaching hospitals are frequently associated to medical schools. Students learn in a teaching hospital for the final two years of medical school. 

They use what they have learnt in class to help patients. Additionally, they study several specialties (areas of medicine). Internal medicine, pediatrics, neurology, surgery, psychiatry, family medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology are a few specializations. 

During their final year of medical school, students choose the type of doctor they want to be.

MD (doctor of medicine) or DO (doctor of osteopathic medicine) degrees are awarded to students who successfully complete medical school. Either of these degrees qualifies one as a doctor.

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Most doctors finish their residency in a teaching hospital after graduating from medical school. Physicians are educated in a specific medical speciality through residency programs. Interns are what we call first-year residents.

 Depending on the specialty, a residency may span three to seven years. Physicians learn about various facets of their chosen specialization during their residency. A pediatrics resident, for instance, will learn how to care for kids in the clinic, the ER, and the hospital. 

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Many states demand that doctors obtain a training medical license while they are in residency. After one to two years of residency, doctors who attended a US medical school are often qualified for a full medical license. To practice autonomously, doctors must possess a full medical license.


Some doctors enroll in a fellowship program to further their education. These medical professionals are looking to specialize (one aspect of a specialty). For instance, some doctors specialize in pulmonology or cardiology. A doctor may specialize in trauma surgery. Depending on the speciality, fellowships often last 1 to 3 years.

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How Long Does it Take to Become a Licensed Doctorin 2024?

For their chosen speciality, doctors must finish a four-year undergraduate program, four years of medical school, and three to seven years of residency training. In other words, it takes 10 to 14 years to obtain a complete medical license. 

After completing your residency program and medical school, you must pass an exam for the state where you want to practice medicine. 

Even while becoming a doctor can take a lot of time and money, you can expect to make a lot of money after you do, especially if you choose to start a private practice. 

The average yearly pay for a doctor is $163,908, but if you reside in a region with a higher cost of living, your salary may rise.

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How Much Does it Cost to Become a Licensed Doctor?

The typical first-year medical student at a public medical school spent $38,947 for tuition, fees, and health insurance in 2021–2022, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Private medical school first-year tuition was considerably more expensive, at $61,023. 

Students that have resident status at their respective schools are included in these statistics. The sums rose to $62,505 and $62,539, respectively, for non-residents. 

The maximum tuition, fees, and health insurance cost for non-resident students attending public medical schools was $91,599 per year.

The average cost of medical school (assuming a four-year program) can range from $155,788 to $244,092 if you use only average values.

 The cost reaches $398,488 at its most expensive point. These figures do not account for tuition price hikes that occur every year or the expense of living throughout medical school. 

Depending on where your school is located, the cost of living—including accommodation, utilities, food, and transportation—can vary significantly. 

In 2020, the average household spent $61,334, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Salary and Job Outlooks for Physicians 

Physicians and surgeons earn among the highest salaries of any profession, with a typical yearly salary of $208,000 or more. The median pay for different categories of doctors and surgeons is not given, but the mean (average) yearly salaries for these professionals are as follows: 

  • Obstetricians and gynecologists $296,210 Anesthesiologists $331,190 
  • Surgeons $294,520 
  • other doctors and surgeons, $255,110 
  • Psychiatrists $249,760 
  • general internists $242,190 
  • Pediatricians, general $198,420 
  • Family practitioners, general $235,930

Most doctors and surgeons have full-time jobs. Some people work a week of over forty hours. A lot of doctors and surgeons put in long hours, which may entail irregular hours, working through the night, or being on call. 

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In order to care for patients, doctors and surgeons may travel between their offices and the hospital. A doctor may have to take care of a patient’s problems over the phone while on call or make an urgent trip to another place, like a nursing home.

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Job Outlooks

Over the next ten years, the overall employment of doctors and surgeons is anticipated to expand by just 3%, which is less than the average for all occupations. 

Over the next ten years, there are expected to be, on average, 23,800 opportunities for doctors and surgeons, notwithstanding the modest expansion in employment. 

The majority of those openings are anticipated to be caused by the need to replace workers who change careers or leave the workforce due to retirement.

The BLS predicts a slow expansion in doctor employment starting in 2021 and continuing through 2030. Physician job growth is projected by the government to increase by 3%, which is less than the average job growth for all occupations. 

The need for new doctors is being fueled by the aging population, an increase in the number of patients with chronic conditions, and the retirement of baby-boomer doctors. 

The need for more doctors is balanced by other issues. Doctors may easily treat more patients in the same amount of time because to remote monitoring. 

Some of the same services that doctors can offer can also be provided by physician assistants and nurse practitioners, however they are paid far less. A significant change in health care, such as higher co-pays or less payment from insurers, could deter patients.

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Frequently Asked Questions 

What kind of doctor is the most challenging to become?

The most difficult medical specialties to break into are ENT, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, and dermatology. Based on information from Medschoolinsders, which evaluated the match rate and other elements to assess the competitiveness of various residency programs, this statement is made.

Can a 30-year-old become a doctor?

You can undoubtedly start your medical training when you are 30 years old or older. You’ll need to be prepared to work hard, just like any other medical student, but everything is possible if you have the will to succeed.
 If you already hold an undergraduate degree, the time it takes to become a doctor is already cut by four years. Real-world experience is valued by medical colleges, and patients also admire wisdom.

How long does medical school training take?

It somewhat depends on your background and the kind of doctor you want to become before enrolling in medical school. As a general rule, it takes about 10 years to train to become a general practitioner (including medical school) and 14 years to train to become a surgeon.


Before receiving the title of physician in the United States, doctors must undergo a rigorous and comprehensive training program. It necessitates extensive study and planning, but for very excellent reasons. 

The extraordinary privilege of having a patient’s health, and occasionally even their life, in their hands is bestowed upon doctors. 

It’s critical to take a realistic look at the time frame for your educational requirements if you’re considering becoming a doctor. From there, you can determine if you want to devote the necessary time and effort to this involved (but valuable) procedure.



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