High School to Doctor | Physician/Surgeon Training Overview 👩‍⚕️👨‍⚕️


Becoming a doctor or surgeon in the United States isn’t all that straightforward of a process. If you’ve ever wondered what each step of the process is like, you’ve come to the right place. Dr. Jubbal, MedSchoolInsiders.com. Let’s first cover the most traditional paths in becoming a doctor, and then we’ll discuss some variants that can speed up the process or open up additional opportunities based on your specific interests. After completing high school, you’ll attend a 4-year university and work towards your bachelor’s degree. And no, an associate’s degree won’t cut it. Many students and their parents stress more than they need to regarding college choice. As I’ve spoken about in a previous video on college prestige, in most cases attending a respectable public university will suffice. The benefits of attending a highly prestigious private university are present, but are usually overstated and may not be worth the additional cost. My recommendation is to certainly strive to get into the best college possible, but keep in mind other important factors beyond prestige such as fit, cost, location, culture, and opportunities related to your areas of interest. Once you’re in college, the big decision you’ll be faced with is what major to pursue. While you can technically major in anything you want so long as you also complete the medical school prerequisites, there certainly are pros and cons to each major. For example, choosing a biology major will result in a greater degree of overlap between your major and medical school requirements, and ultimately a smaller course load which may translate to better grades. With that being said, there is a greater number of premeds majoring in bio, and competition will be higher and more cutthroat than many other majors. For the full analysis, including data of medical school acceptance rates by each major, check out my video on the best major for pre-meds. Link in the description. During the first half of your freshman year, don’t worry too much about extracurriculars and other aspects of bolstering a strong medical school application. This should be the time where you establish your foundational habits that will facilitate success moving forward as you begin to be pulled in multiple directions. Dialing in your evidence-based study strategies, which we discuss extensively on this channel, is a great place to start. Set up a regular exercise routine, establish your social circle, and properly adjust to this new chapter of your life. In the second half of your freshman year, begin seeking out relevant extracurriculars that are related to your interests and passion for medicine. During spring quarter of my freshman year, I began reaching out to PI’s at various labs studying inflammatory bowel disease, a disease process that I was particularly interested in for personal reasons. By securing a position early on, I had ample time to secure a publication and two abstracts before I applied to medical school. This is important. Research is unique because it’s the one standard extracurricular with the greatest potential to drastically improve your competitiveness as an applicant. If you want to go straight from college to medical school without taking time off, then you’ll need to apply at the end of your junior year, with applications opening for submission in June. That way, you’ll be applying and completing the application cycle during senior year, allowing you to start in the fall right after graduating. If you want to take one year off between college and medical school, then you’ll be applying at the end of your senior year. This is an important decision to make, as it dictates your strategy in taking the MCAT. There’s no right or wrong here. I have yet to meet a medical student or physician who regrets taking a year off. I personally went straight through, in part likely due to my impatience and overzealous ambition. If you want to go straight through, I recommend you take the MCAT during the summer between your sophomore and junior year. Having dedicated summer time to focus on the MCAT without the added workload of classes can make a huge difference in your final MCAT score. Many students ask if it’s still fine to take the MCAT without taking certain courses. I personally did not take biochemistry until after I took the test, and I was still able to secure a 99.9th percentile MCAT score. That being said, this is going to be more of a personal decision based on your own comfort level with the material. If you’re gonna be taking a year off, then usually it’s best to take the MCAT during the summer between your junior and senior year. When you apply, you’ll be using AMCAS, or the American Medical College Application Service, for most MD schools. Texas schools use TMDSAS, and osteopathic medical schools use AACOMAS. They’re all similar, but each application has slightly different nuances. You’ll submit your primary application in June. During the summer, you’ll receive and write secondary applications, which are specific to each school, and you’ll conduct most of your interviews during the fall and early winter. Medical schools in the U.S. are generally 4 years in duration, and you’ll earn either an MD or a DO. The first two years are the preclinical years, where you are primarily learning in the classroom, with limited clinical exposure. The final two years are the clinical years, where you spend more time in the hospital and clinic, and less time in the classroom. Your first year will be the most radical transition, and for many it can be quite jarring. I go over how to make the adjustment as painless as possible in my Adjusting to Medical School 101 video. During this time, you should reassess and refine your study strategies, figure out your routines, and work to optimize your efficiency if you want to have a semblance of a balanced life while also being a top performer. You’ll remember the middle and end of your first year as some of the best times in medical school. The stress is comparatively low to the later stages, you have more free time, and you are bonding with new people and solidifying life long friendships. You’ll be amazed by your classmates, as medical students are some of the most impressive and diverse people you’ll come across. There are a total of three United States Medical Licensing Exams. During your second year, you’ll begin ramping up for the dreaded USMLE Step 1. It’s the most important test for matching into residency, hence the high stress surrounding this exam. If you thought you studied hard for the MCAT, just wait until you get to Step 1. After taking Step 1 at the end of your second year, you’ll begin third year and transition to your clinical rotations. Clinical rotations are particularly challenging, because for the first time in your life, you’re not just studying out of books and taking tests. Rather, you still have to do that, but now most of your waking hours are spent in the hospital or clinic, and your evaluations from your seniors hold tremendous weight in your overall grade. It’s a different game entirely. During your third year, you’ll rotate on internal medicine, family medicine, general surgery, psychiatry, neurology, pediatrics, ob/gyn, and emergency medicine. USMLE Step 2 is usually taken at the end of third year, although some push it into their fourth year. It’s not nearly as important as Step 1, but it’s a great opportunity to make up for a lackluster Step 1 score. Rather than spending up to 6 months studying, 1 month will usually suffice. You’ll start your fourth and final year of medical school with away rotations, also known as audition rotations, where you act as a sub-intern at institutions across the country. You’ll usually do 2 or 3 away rotations each lasting one month at institutions you would like to ultimately match at for residency. Think of it as a month long interview. If you’re going into a specialty with a suboptimal lifestyle, like surgery, expect long hours and high stress on your aways. While doing a plastic surgery away rotation, I remember having three 19 hour days in a row, but I was graciously saved by 3 subsequent days of only 12-13 hours. That’s 95 hours in a single week, plus studying and preparing for the next day’s cases. Away rotations can be tough, but not all sub-internships are going to be this rigorous. In September of your fourth year, you’ll apply to residency using the Electronic Residency Application Service, or ERAS for short. It’s analogous to the AMCAS experience used when applying to medical school. Interviews will follow, occurring anywhere between October to February. At the end of February, you submit your rank list to participate in the match process. In March, you’ll attend Match Day with your medical school classmates and open an envelope that informs you of the program you’ll be training at for the next 3-7 years. Congratulations, you’re now a doctor with an MD or a DO after your name. You’ll begin your first year of residency, or intern year, on July 1st, and it’s going to be a long ride. In the first year of residency, you’ll do several rotations across various specialties, some of which aren’t all that relevant to the specialty you’ve chosen. In your second and third years, however, you’ll be doing rotations that are more focused on your specialty, and you’ll even get options to select electives to focus on your areas of interest within the specialty. If you’d like to specialize further, you can elect to do a fellowship after you complete residency. Medical school and residency are both difficult, but for different reasons. Medical school is challenging as you must work hard to earn strong evaluations, the level of competition for Step 1 is next level, and balancing clinical work with doing well on exams is challenging to say the least. Think of it as multiple bursts of very high intensity. Residency is never as challenging on a short term scale, but it will test you in the form of an endurance race. You won’t have cutthroat competition or the pressure of getting top evaluations from your preceptors. However, you’ll have greater responsibility for your patients, the hours are long, and it goes on for years. Depending on your specialty, residency will last anywhere from 3-7 years. Fellowship is optional and can add another 1-3 years on top of that. But once you’re done, congratulations, you’re an attending physician and your training is complete! Just take the board exams for your specialty and you’ll be a board certified doctor or surgeon. A quick note about alternative routes. BS-MD programs combine college and medical school into a single application and begin immediately after high school. Rather than 4 years of college plus 4 years of medical school totaling 8 years, most BS-MD programs are only 6 or 7 years in duration. If you’d like additional degrees in medical school, there are two main options. First, you can add a master’s degree for an additional 1 or 2 years, the most common of which are a master’s in public health or MBA. You can decide to do this once you’re already accepted to a traditional 4 year MD program. Second, you can get a PhD in addition to your MD, but that requires you apply to MD/PhD programs up front through the AMCAS application, not when you’re already enrolled in medical school. If this all seems intimidating and complex, I get it. I was the first and only person in my family to pursue a career in medicine, and I definitely made some mistakes along the way. I don’t want you to repeat my mistakes, and it’s for that reason that my team and I have created the Pre-Med Roadmap to Medical School Acceptance course. We go in painstaking detail through each year of college and provide an adaptable blueprint that will help maximize your chances of getting into a top medical school. By following the practices in this course, I was able to achieve a 99.9th percentile MCAT score, get accepted to multiple top 5 medical schools, and got a full-tuition scholarship to my number one program. Click the link in the description to learn more, or visit MedSchoolInsiders.com. Becoming a doctor is a long and tedious process, but by taking it one step at a time, you’ll be able to do it. Trust me. And we’re to help you each step of the way. If you want me to cover anything else in particular regarding the medical training process, let me know with a comment down below. Much love to you all, and I will see you guys in that next one.

92 thoughts on “High School to Doctor | Physician/Surgeon Training Overview 👩‍⚕️👨‍⚕️

  1. This is the earliest I’ve ever been! You should make a video about PA school vs Med school for those stuck between the two!

  2. Thank you sooo much! You always explain things so clearly and with the best tips. You're helping so many people like me actually pursue our passion.

  3. this is the long route, ill give you a shortcut

    i completed highschool in the US then went back to my home country Pakistan and got admitted DIRECTLY into medical school via a "foreign seat" which has very low competition at only $2000 USD per year

    i had USMLE as my goal since the beginning so in 5th year of med school i gave it and got 243 and matched into internal medicine in New jersey

    so now im in IM residency at the age of 24 in the US with no student loans (total med school cost was around $10k which my parents easily paid for me) — i also got really close to my culture in pakistan and had the best years of my life there with my extended family

  4. Darn, not first. Love your videos, but, as an Asian, I'm still upset with you that you didn't become a plastic surgeon. 😉 I'm almost over it

  5. In Europe, you can apply to medical school right after high-school. It's basically treated as a 6 year, BA plus MA programe, although that varies from country to country. Its 6 years long, where 3 are preclinical, and 3 clinical. After that you're a doctor of primary care, in most countries you're required to do a year of internship. After that you can apply for a specialisation, or residency.
    They're not as organised as in the US, at least here where I study. The local government basically dictates how many there will be.
    You can become a doctor at 24 years old here, tho that's rare since most people repeat a year or two.

  6. Emergency medicine please? I wanna know about it more, I wanted to be a surgeon but i just dont know are they the same or not, probably not but I would really like to know

  7. Thank you so much for this video, I remember requesting this video because I was confused of which steps came first. I have a better understanding now of what to do as a sophomore in high school

  8. I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with my Biology major. When I started I swear they were so many people that we look like the entire university was made of biology people. But finishing this semester more than half of my classmates were gone and others didn't pass the classes. I dont know how common this is, but in my university it is said that this is the standar. I feel like Im in crazy town right now. I never expected such competitiveness in my first semester.

  9. Hey there, Dr.Jubbal
    First of all thanks for the great content you share in your channel.I am from Iran and the advice you give in your videos are so helpful for me.
    Could you do a video about foreign students in med schools of U.S. ,please?
    Sincerely
    Parsa

  10. The fact that Dr. Jubbal spends his time assisting us, aspiring doctors, by consistently informing us on how to become better, makes him an amazing mentor. He’s an awesome leader and I hope he knows that.

    P.S. Please make a video regarding Healthcare Administrators. It would really benefit those who are interested 🙂

  11. Summer before sophomore year seems really early to me! Do you think the fact that other students might not have done as well at that time (since they likely didn’t have all the MCAT courses either) helped your percentile, or do you think that was negligible?

  12. I want to study a mbbs and then go to medical school, is it good?
    And, wwhere to study? Is it a bad idea to do mbbs or emt-p before med school in a community college?

  13. For anyone that needs some study motivation; hit up David Goggins he'll have you barking like a dog whilst youre writing down chemical structures!

  14. I just wanted to confirm something. For the MCAT if we wanted to take a gap year, wouldn’t we take it during April or June senior year? Since it takes about a year for the whole process. But if we take it spring of junior year, and apply for med school summer between Junior year and senior, we would go fall of next year

  15. Thank you so much! I'm an aspiring doctor in my first year of college. I'm thinking of gunning for a bachelor's in nursing as my premed and I hope all will go well.

  16. I know it’s an unpopular specialty, but could you do a video on Infectious Disease Specialists? There isn’t a lot of information out there about the specialty.

  17. "3 19hr days and then saved by 3 12-13hr days" Thats not a sustainable lifestyle for 99% of people that actually require sleep. are all surgical specialties like this?
    i know i can handle if there are a few days in a month where the hours are challenging and having a break the day after but having a week like you just described will probably result in a shorter life, not solely the stress but he chronic no sleep will deff shortens a person life and make them more susceptible to sickness and death.

  18. Hey I know that you probably won’t see this comment, but you mentioned in one of your videos that you got the national merit scholarship. I am going to be taking the PSAT soon. Could you make a video about studying for the PSAT/SAT??

  19. When would you recommend be a good time to start studying for the MCAT for the best chance to get an either close or perfect score? Currently senior in high school.

  20. I’m a dual enrolled senior, I graduate from HS with an associate’s degree and I have a part time at Adidas. What does the community recommend for me to do to strengthen my path towards medicine?

  21. This seems so complicated and long. In the UK we do GCSEs at 16 years old – We do 9-10 subjects and you need to 2-5 A/A* grades. Then we do 2 years of A levels – 3 subjects and you need to get AAB/AAA/A*AA. And then its just apply to medical school to do a 5 year degree. You can basically just get into medical school with your grades and good interview.

  22. I'm applying to med school with a major in Modern Languages and a minor in music (I did all the prereqs and more don't worry) let's hope I get in 🤞

  23. Thank you so much for your videos they are like a guidance when you don’t know anyone in this field and have no idea what should be your next step.

  24. The dumbest thing you can do in this world is become a Doctor. First of all med school is a brainwash conditioning process making you remember things that are completely unnecessary. Then they train you how to become a literal human butcher with fake research. They DO NOT TEACH YOU HOW TO HEAL ANYONE OF ANYTHING!!!

  25. I would like to ask if it’s still fine to go to COMMUNITY college and THEN go to a uni for the rest of the 2 years and still make it to med school??

  26. I used to be so confused how the american system works I mean in Europe you can go directly into medical school after high school for 6 years and follow in residency if you want to

  27. Please advise about foreign students. My daughter is in her final year of high school (finishing in July) and would like to study to be a doctor in the USA.

  28. I wanna be a cardiologist..I'm still a 10 th grader..Any advice for me Sir??i would be very grateful if you could kindly give me some study tips….

  29. Amazing video Dr. Jubbal, please make a video on Healthcare Management and Hospital Administration the business side of medical field! I'm really interested in this profession.

  30. I’m in high school, Are there any specific classes that I should take that will help me or put me ahead of the game?

  31. Got accepted into University of Michigan Ann Arbor❤️ my dream college/medical school. I plan to become a pediatric radiologist or cardiologist.💓💞 LET’S GO!!!

  32. I don't know much about this path. But some advisors at my school told me that after doing bsc in nursing I can go to medical school if I get good mcat score….I wonder if it is true or not

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