Considering how long getting a medical degree can take and the stringency of medical school requirements, this may not come as a surprise. But just how long does medical school really take? Is it possible to get a degree in less time?
If you’ve been considering medical school, here are the facts that you need to know.
How Long Is Medical School?
When students think of going to “medical school” to become doctors, they are actually contemplating a multi-step educational process. The traditional career path involves three to four steps:
- Bachelor’s degree
- Medical degree
All medical students begin by completing a bachelor’s degree. Traditionally, students choose to major in medically-adjacent subjects such as biology, chemistry, or physics.
Once they’ve completed their bachelor’s degrees, students enroll in a four-year medical school program. These programs provide the foundation for a career in medicine, regardless of what the student wishes to specialize in. Students graduate with an M.D. or D.O. degree.
Next, medical students begin their residency period. This lasts at least three years and can take as long as seven years to complete depending on students’ specific field of study.
Finally, some students will continue their education by completing a fellowship. Fellowships are most common among students who want to hyper-specialize in a particular type of medicine.
With all of these steps, medical school can take between 11 and 18 years to complete. These numbers assume, of course, that students pass each of their various rounds of testing on the first try and that they successfully complete full semesters of coursework each year. Failure to do so will result in an even longer timeline.
Alternative Medical Programs
Many promising medical students can be discouraged by this extensive process. Competition to get into top medical schools in their desired programs can be fierce. Some of the best medical schools have rigorous pre-requisites and carry hefty price tags.
Yet not all individuals seeking to make a difference in the world via a career in health care need to struggle through the long, expensive, and stressful traditional process. For many, attending medical assistant school is a better, shorter, and more empowering alternative.
Doctors and surgeons do not work in insolation. Medical facilities of every stripe rely on an array of assistants and support staff to deliver quality care to patients every day. Examples of high-demand medical assistants include:
- Healthcare managers
- Healthcare IT specialists
- Administrative assistants
- Medical billing and coding assistants
- Pharmacy technicians
Students can work toward their degrees without leaving home or breaking the bank. They can complete their degrees in as little as 18 months and walk directly into great jobs where they can make a difference. Demand for assistants is expected to increase by 23 percent over the next decade, ensuring a promising future career, as well.
Choose the Program That’s Right for You
With so many great alternatives to traditional medical school programs, there’s never been a better time to start a career in health care. Check out our other great articles on health care and medicine to learn more about the field and the possibilities it offers today.