The Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree is awarded by medical schools to graduates who successfully complete a professional doctorate program accredited by the LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education), an independent entity sponsored by the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges. Alternately, the D.O. degree, or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, is the professional and legal equivalent of the M.D. degree, with the only difference between the two involving a D.O. having specialized knowledge about osteopathic manipulative treatment.
Earning an M.D. Degree
Before applying to a medical school, students need to earn a Bachelor's degree by completing a premed program offered by many universities. In addition to finishing a four-year, premed program, students will have to take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). Admission to medical schools is highly competitive and achieving an exceptional score on the MCAT is imperative to being accepted by a medical school. Some of the more desirable and prestigious medical schools in the U.S. include the Yale School of Medicine, Ohio State University, Emory University, Cornell University and Columbia University.
After being accepted to a medical school, prospective M.D.s begin four to six years of rigorous academics, residencies and other field-type experiences that ultimately lead to taking the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 and Step 2. Once a doctor is granted his or her graduate M.D. degree, they then must complete one or more years of an internship at a hospital and pass Step 3 of the USMLE. Internships typically consist of students rotating through specialty departments (cardiology, obstetrics, neurology, etc.) to gain as much experience as possible in patient care and assessment of patient conditions.
Receiving Board Certification
Medical doctors who want to attain Board Accredited or Board Eligible status in general surgery, internal medicine or other specialties need to complete a residency, while M.D.s who want to specialize in specific areas of medicine such as infectious diseases, cardiology or gerontology will have to complete a fellowship. Electing to participate in a fellowship or residency could add more than six years of training to a doctor's academic career but will also contribute to increased prestige, employment opportunities and much higher than average annual wages.
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