If you’re passionate about knowledge, have a deep desire to help people heal and overcome serious illnesses, have the intellectual acumen to get exceptional grades, have high self-confidence, and the self-discipline to handle a long and very rigorous learning and development path, then you might indeed have what it takes to join the ranks of the one of the most important — and indeed, most lucrative professions in the world: being a surgeon.
So, how to you get from where you are now, to the operating room in the future? Here’s an overview of the road ahead:
- Finish high school, earn great grades, make sure that biology, chemistry and math are part of your subject line-up, and pay attention to extra to extra curricular activities that compliment your future medical career (e.g. volunteering at a local hospital, etc.). You want your college application essay to stand out from the crowd.
- Find a mentor who can give you some advice and guidance as you move forward. For example, you can reach out to a local Orthopedic surgeon if this is an area that interests you (don’t worry if down the road you focus on another area).
- Earn your bachelor’s degree. Generally, medical schools don’t insist that you have a degree in a particular field. However, ensure that you have at least a year of physics, biology, English, and at least two years of chemistry.
- Take and pass the MCAT, which stands for Medical College Admission Test. Your results will be submitted to various schools, and added to your overall application which must include letters of reference from your college professors, and ideally your mentor(s) as well.
- Get accepted and complete medical school. The first few years will have you spending most of your time in the classroom, lab and library, but eventually you’ll transition to learning under the supervision of an experienced surgeon.
- Once you finish medical school, complete your residency program. Think of like a long but invaluable internship.
- When your residency is finished, you can (if you wish) add a fellowship and sub-specialize in a particular area.
- Earn your license by passing medical board exams, such as the US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
Keep in mind that once you’re licensed and qualified, your journey of learning will not be ending; it will elevate to a new level. For example, you’ll likely want to gain experience in general practice, and then decide on a specialization based on your interests and aptitudes. Throughout this period, you’ll attend many interesting workshops and conferences, and publish articles (alone or with peers) that help advance knowledge and understanding in the field. Good luck with your dream — you can do it!