The beginner’s guide to becoming a doctor.
For a kid or a young student, how can he fulfill his ambition to becoming a medical doctor one day? What are the essential academic competency, qualification, knowledge and skills required?
First and foremost, one significant thing that one needs to realize is that the path to becoming a qualified doctor takes longer time than most of other fields.
A medical degree from the United Kingdom usually takes between 4 to 5 years to finish (and longer if you have to repeat some subjects or academic year), and a pre-university or A-Levels enrolment before that may take up to 2 years. So, discounting high school, you will be spending more or less 6 or 7 good years here.
Medical field requires students with good grades and results in science related subjects, particularly Biology.
Unlike many other courses that usually pay more emphasis on theories (and practical in employment world), your real ‘employment’ actually starts during your studies where you will be attending real health cases, and if you get lucky, you can do your first post-mortem on corpses during this time. Towards your final year, soliciting information, clerking the patients and presenting real cases to the lecturers become your routine and it is particularly important to note that good communication, interaction and interpersonal skills are key elements in your job. While this can sound stressful, wait for what to come.
Upon graduation, you will be placed in assigned hospitals for a housemanship (a training regime before you can be ‘upgraded’ to a certified medical officer or doctor) that lasts between 1 to 2 years. During this time, you will undergo a series of job rotation in different departments and handle different cases.
In countries like Malaysia, this can be the most gruesome period of your life. During housemanship, you will be wishing you have more time to rest and sleep. In the United Kingdom or Ireland, a housemanship officer will have his job confined to desk job (clerking the patients) and less on technical related jobs. It is probably true when they say that doctors who completed their housemanship in Malaysia are more competent that those from the UK and Ireland. And that is the most probable course that a doctor officer who finishes housemanship in the UK or Ireland will have to undergo another round of housemanship training back in Malaysia.
Once you become a certified doctor, you are able to start your own medical practice if you wish (depending on which country you are, the regulations might differ. Check with the local authority). You also have the option to pursue your studies in your choice of specializations such as pediatrics, pathology, oncology, psychiatry, E&T (ear, nose and throat) and many others. Granted, the higher your academic attainment in the medical field, the higher the salary you can command.
Medical doctor is a noble profession. Doctors attend to sick patient. They listen to people’s health complaints. They advise and consult people. Some spend hours in the surgery room removing a thing or two from patient’s body, while some others take care of other wide range of medical specializations.
Apart from having a good career, medical doctor is perceived as a profession that rewards highly. As the recent research in America indicates, 9 out of 10 top highest paid jobs in the US are related to medical field. They are also unlikely to become victims of unemployment as the world needs them dearly.
But being a doctor is not just about earning high income or salary. Just like any other profession, it takes passion, determination and perseverance before you can eventually become a doctor. When you do, be a good one.