How to Become a Medical Doctor

How to Become a Medical Doctor

Did you know that 10 out of the top 10 highest paying jobs are in the medical field? Besides the high salary, there are many other benefits attached to being a medical doctor. Not only will you be saving lives, but you will also help the coming generation of medical doctors to become experts. If becoming a medical doctor is your dream, this guide is the right place to start fulfilling it. Here is all the vital information you need to become a successful medical doctor.


About being a doctor

A medical doctor is a principal professional that is fit to proffer solutions to health challenges. Doctors assess, diagnose, and make treatment plans for illnesses, diseases, accidents, and disorders in patients. Doctors sometimes work up to 80 hours a week. Some only get one day off. Although doctors risk burnout due to the intense nature of the job, they rank among the highest paid in any profession.


Qualifications and Education Required to Become a Medical Doctor

To become a doctor, formal education is important. It takes between 11 and 16 years to become a doctor. First, you need to undergo an undergraduate degree program of at least 4 years in any biology-related course. The most common options are chemistry, human genetics, and biological studies. Note that the undergraduate program could take up to 7 years in other regions.

Next, is a mandatory 4-year medical school degree. After finishing medical school, you would need to complete a residency program which could take between 3 and 7 years. After residency, there is an option for a fellowship. A medical fellowship is a one-year extra study program in a sub-specialty.

Every doctor needs to be licensed. To get a license to practice medicine, you need to pass the medical board certification exam.

A medical doctor can specialize in any of the following:

  • Surgery
  • Anesthetics
  • Pathology
  • Emergency medicine
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • General medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Trauma and orthopedics
  • Psychiatry


Duties of a Medical Doctor

Performing physical examinations and managing patient consultation

Whenever a patient needs medical assistance, they seek consultation first. This medical consultation is usually done by a medical doctor. A consultation may also include a physical examination of the patient. Doing this would help the medical doctor to prepare a treatment plan for the patient.

Prescribing medication and approving treatment plans

Besides doctors, other licensed medical practitioners can prescribe medication for a patient. Even nurses and pharmacists can. Likewise, a medical doctor is also responsible for approving treatment plans for a patient.

Writing reports and approving certificates

A diagnosis, recovery, or treatment plan is valid when it is backed by a doctor’s report. For example, to join the military, a candidate must pass some medical examinations. Only an official report by a medical doctor is valid in these circumstances. Thus, doctors write reports which detail the health conditions of a patient for various reasons.

Approving tests and scans

Doctors do not have to run tests on patients at the hospital. Yet, any test or scan must be approved by a doctor. Nurses are not authorized to run tests even though the symptoms suggest that a test is necessary. Also, a medical doctor usually reveals the outcome of a test or scan when it is done.

Diagnosing patients

Diagnosing patients is one of the most difficult aspects of a doctor’s job. Indeed, some medical conditions are so obvious that anyone would know what the diagnosis would likely be. Yet, a medical doctor is authorized to make the diagnosis. Also, they would educate the patient on the medical condition and help find solutions to the problem.

Overseeing other medical practitioners

Doctors run hospitals. They oversee the affairs of the hospital staff, including other doctors. A medical doctor is responsible for directing, supervising, and informing other hospital staff members. When a representative of the hospital has to address the public, the press, or investors, a medical doctor takes the responsibility.

Training new doctors

A medical doctor is also a teacher. Although there are teaching hospitals dedicated to training new doctors, junior doctors in non-teaching hospitals also learn from experienced doctors. In some cases, a trainee and their mentor find themselves working as colleagues in the same hospital.

Providing medical information to patients and their families

When it comes to breaking uncomfortable news to patients and families, a medical doctor steps up. In the case of surgeons, whoever operates on a patient is authorized to provide information on the progress of the procedure to the family of the patient.

Performing or overseeing surgeries

Although nurses and anesthesiologists are allowed in the operating room, they only assist doctors. Medical doctors or surgeons are the only authorized professionals to operate on a patient.


Qualities and Skills Required to Become a Medical Doctor

Steady hands

While this might seem unnecessary to many other professionals, having steady hands is a crucial skill every medical doctor must have. Surgeons would benefit the most from this quality, especially while carrying out an operation. Besides surgeons, other practitioners in the medical field need to have this quality as well.

Administering injections and taking blood samples are delicate procedures that require steady hands. With steady hands, a medical doctor will perform even the most dangerous procedures without endangering the life of their patient. Thus, any medical condition which involves losing control of the hand function makes any medical doctor unfit to operate.


When it comes to empathy, not many professions need this quality as much as a medical doctor. Empathy is not only vital to understanding the patient’s plight; it also helps medical doctors to perform their job better.

Before running major tests, a patient should explain how they feel so that the medical doctor can run the necessary tests. Yet, patients find it hard sometimes to describe the discomfort they feel accurately. Empathy is what makes a doctor find alternative ways to help their patient even when it is not convenient.

Listening and communication

Communication is an essential skill that every medical doctor needs to have. Nearly all medical conditions and treatments have scientific names and implications that are difficult to comprehend. A medical doctor should be able to communicate these conditions to patients in a way they would understand.

It starts with listening. With impeccable listening skills, a doctor can understand much about the patient’s medical needs are. Thus, it pays to listen to patients, ask the right questions, then give your opinions or recommendations.

Likewise, communication skills are crucial in desperate times. For instance, when a patient is in the worst condition possible, breaking the news takes immaculate communication skills. Also, breaking bad news to the families of patients requires tactful communication.

Having Personal Ethics

Medical doctors are some of the most celebrated and esteemed professionals in every society. People hold them in high regard and expect a lot from them on and off duty. Thus, a medical doctor must possess personal ethics. This quality is what sets them apart.

It is worth noting that being a medical doctor is a big responsibility as people are quick to trust and believe doctors. Therefore, the ordinary words of doctors should be as authentic as the extraordinary testimony of a witness in court. People are quick to take any medication, follow diet instructions, and leave their children alone in a room with doctors.

Likewise, most people would undress in a heartbeat when a medical doctor needs to make an assessment. It takes a high level of personal ethics and accountability to succeed as a medical doctor.

The ability to work well under pressure

Medical doctors deserve all the credit they get for handling pressure expertly. Being responsible for the lives of people of all ages can be tough. There is pressure to save lives from the patients, their families, and even colleagues. Handling these situations like an expert would be key to having a successful career in medicine.

During intense periods like a pandemic, the pressure on medical doctors increases drastically. Medical doctors have to save lives while they risk getting infected. It takes being able to work well under pressure to scale through these times.

Problem-solving skills

As a medical doctor, you never know what to expect on every shift. While some conditions are easy to diagnose and treat, others can be challenging. Also, some conditions appear benign but soon become more serious than expected. In this case, a medical doctor would need to come up with solutions to these problems.

People often assume that doctors have all the answers. In reality, there are medical conditions that doctors have read about and studied but have never experienced. It takes a high level of problem-solving skills to meet your expectations of yourself as a medical doctor.

The ability to learn quickly

Contrary to what some think, medical doctors have not seen it all. They don’t know it all either. As a medical doctor, you will never stop learning. It is because new diseases and medical conditions keep evolving. Thus, you must stay up to date with the latest happenings and research in the medical field. You never know if the next patient could be the first with a new variant of the disease. Therefore, you must learn quickly to be in the best position to help patients, your staff, and yourself.


To become a medical doctor, it is vital to possess leadership qualities. A typical hospital has staff across various departments in the medical and non-medical fields. Medical doctors are usually the most senior staff in a hospital. Security personnel, IT experts, and nurses listen to doctors. This makes being a doctor a huge responsibility and a privilege. Thus, doctors need to take the lead in tough situations. Although there would be instances where they would need advice from experts in other fields to make decisions, doctors still call the shots. It takes leadership skills to earn the respect of other hospital staff.


There is no tougher situation to decide on the one that involves life and death. A medical doctor deals with these sorts of situations regularly. Sometimes, a doctor only has a few minutes or seconds to decide on a treatment method that may alter a patient’s life. For instance, a doctor might be faced with a tough decision to save an athlete’s life or career. An amputation may be necessary to save the life of an injured athlete with an infected leg. This is one of many scenarios where a doctor has a difficult decision to make.


How Much Does a Doctor Earn?

One of the best aspects of being a medical doctor is the salary. Doctors usually earn a six-figure salary. In the U.S., the average salary of a medical doctor is between $165,000 and $345,000. Meanwhile, medical doctors in the United Kingdom earn between GBP53,000 and GBP117,000 a year. In Saudi Arabia, medical doctors are paid about SAR112,000 on average. Finally, doctors in Nigeria earn a monthly salary of between NGN110,00 and NGN310,000.


Where Can a Doctor Work?

When the topic of where a doctor can find work comes up, the first place that comes to mind is a hospital. Although most doctors work in hospitals, there are other places where you can find work. Medical doctors are sought-after in the military. They help the injured or ill troops with any medical issues they may have.

Likewise, medical doctors are needed in sports. There are various types of sports in every country around the world. Athletes need the guidance of a medical team, which is why medical doctors will always get jobs in sports. In many other sectors, doctors are needed to provide timely solutions to medical challenges. Lastly, some doctors work as private doctors for elite clients. Thus, there are always opportunities for doctors inside or outside of conventional hospitals.



Becoming a medical doctor is a dream for many people. It is one of the most esteemed professions due to its contribution to life, health, and society in general. To become a medical doctor, you must have all the necessary qualifications, including useful skillsets. Also, doctors are usually one of the highest-paid professionals anywhere in the world. There is life for a doctor outside of hospitals; the opportunities are endless.

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