How Long Does It Take To Become A Doctor?

Last Updated on August 30, 2023

If you want to become a doctor, you’ll spend lots of time in school. But just how long is that going to take? From completing four years of undergraduate college, to starting medical school, going through internship and residency, the path to becoming a physician is filled with hoops and hurdles.

When you’re pursuing a career in medicine and the field is so broad, it’s easy to get lost amongst all the specializations and confusing information. Learn how long it takes to become a doctor, including general medical school requirements, as well as what each degree of doctor means.

  Anywhere from 8 to 16 years of solid learning and training to become a full qualified doctor. The shortest known course is five years, mostly offered in the Middle East and Asia, with students studying both science and religion. All these courses must be accredited by the National Medical Board of their country. Western countries however have much longer courses, the longest one that we’ve come across being a staggering 16 years, consisting of 5 back-to-back 6 year programs in total (Basic studies – Specialisation 1 – Specialisation 2 – Residency – Fellowship).

After graduating from med school, most doctors choose to begin practicing general medicine or surgery. During their first few years in practice, doctors will learn to handle patients and perform various forms of treatment. Becoming a licensed physician and completing four years of medical school are prerequisites for entering most types of medical training.

An Overview   The length of time it will take to achieve your dream of becoming a physician depends on different factors, including your choice of specialty, some life choices, and focus. It can be accomplished in as little as 8 years or as long as 14 years. Below is an overview on the time it takes to become a doctor  

It takes about a decade for students in the medical field – those going for medicine and those going for surgery – to become doctors. However, some medical careers require more time that others. The amount of years it takes to become a doctor in the US depends not only on what type of medicine you want to pursue, but also your grades.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Doctor?

The amount of time required to become a doctor can depend on the type of specialty you choose. The type of specialty you select establishes the amount of time spent in a residency program once you receive your undergraduate degree and finish medical school. Before you decide to pursue becoming a physician, take time to consider if you’re willing to complete an education that goes beyond a four-year undergraduate degree and advance your career in medicine.

Doctors must complete a four-year undergraduate program, along with four years in medical school and three to seven years in a residency program to learn the specialty they chose to pursue. In other words, it takes between 10 to 14 years to become a fully licensed doctor.

Skills Needed as a Doctor

As a Doctor, you must have some skills, attributes, characters or even personalities that distinguish you from others. Some of them include

  • Analytical
  • Logical
  • Bold
  • Systemic
  • Intellectual ability
  • Generous
  • Patient
  • Understanding and considerate
  • Discreet and friendly
  • Helpful
  • Pay Attention to details
  • Communication skills
  • Social
  • Cooperative


The structure of an allopathic or osteopathic program, while very similar among medical schools, are quite different from their undergraduate counterparts. Generally, medical school is divided into two major components: pre-clinical and clinical (rotation) sections. Each of these are two years long, though there can be minor differences from school to school.

The pre-clinical block focuses heavily on science and clinical skills, and while most are done through didactic lectures, some schools employ problem-based learning (PBL) or organize courses based on organ systems rather than subject. This part of the medical school requirement is similar to taking upper-level courses in undergrad, albeit at an accelerated pace.

At the end of the second (M2) year, med students take the USMLE Step 1, which may arguably be the most important examination of your medical education (yes, even more than the MCAT!). Residency committees commonly use it to evaluate candidates, meaning it has a large impact on what type of medical specialty you can later compete in.

In your third (M3) and fourth (M4) year, you will be on clinical rotations, meaning you will spend several weeks at a time in a hospital or other clinic setting, observing and learning from the physicians there. M3 often consists of core rotations near and at your school, giving you a solid foundation in the most common fields that people pursuing a career in medicine go into. M4 is very similar, though you will have more freedom in choosing the field in which you would like to do rotations. You will also have the option of going to other institutions to “audition” for their residency programs.

You will still be responsible for studying, however, and passing the USMLE Step 2 before moving on to residency. Step 2 is divided into two separate exams: USMLE Step 2 CK is the multiple-choice section and USMLE Step 2 CS includes simulated patient interactions.

What is the Education requirements for becoming a Doctor?

Basically, the requirements to become a doctor depends on the specialty. In general, doctors complete a 4-year college program, spend 4 years in medical school, and then complete 3 to 7 years of training before being eligible for a medical license.

Hence, Both degree programs generally include general medicine courses, while prospective doctors may choose to specialize later during their stay.

It is necessary to complete a degree program to prepare potential doctors for admission to medical school. Although medical universities do not require specific admission certificates, many students choose heavy programs in biology and chemistry.

Note, Some schools offer specific introductory programs that include the classes required for the Faculty of Medicine, as well as the preparation for the Admission Test to the Faculty of Medicine (MCAT). Common courses in the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in the biology program include:

  • Chemistry
  • Biological studies
  • Physic
  • Human Genetics

What are the areas I can become a Doctor in?

Areas here means specifications. If you want to take up a profession in the medical field and you want to become a doctor, there are so many medical fields you can choose. Note, it all boils down to what you like doing most. Some of these areas include the following


You can become an anesthesiologist doctor. An anesthesiologist ensures that a patient that have to undergo surgery or operation is safe and comfortable. He or she administers local or general anesthesia to the patient.

1. Cardiologist

A doctor in cardiology carries out research, treatment, and prevention of diseases that affect the heart, arteries, and veins.

2. Cardiac surgeon

This doctor carries out surgery in the chest, heart, lings or any organ close to the chest. Also, they diagnose and treat diseases of these organs.

3. Chiropractor, or Chiropractic Doctor

Basically, a chiropractor specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the structural and nervous system, especially the spine. Note, the chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe the medication.

4. Colorectal Surgeon

Well, this surgeon deals with diseases of the colon, rectum and anal, as well as the entire digestive system. They work with urologists, who deal with the male genitourinary system, the women’s urinary tract, the gynecologist, who deals with certain female problems, and the digestive pathologist, who deals with intestinal diseases.

5. Dentist

Basically, a dentist focuses on oral health problems, such as periodontal disease, and examine patients, request medical examinations and determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. And also, they perform oral surgery, remove teeth or treat other dental health problems.

6. Dermatologist

On the other hand, A dermatologist is a doctor that specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions that affect the skin, hair, sweat, sebaceous glands, nails and mucous membranes (inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids) that can include cancer

7. Endocrinologist

This Doctor specializes in the diagnosis of conditions and diseases related to glands and hormones.

8. Forensic Pathologist

This doctor finds out the reason and causes of an unexpected death. That means, he or she is to determine how a person dies by performing an autopsy and studying tissues and laboratories.

9. Gastroenterologist

This doctor focuses on gastrointestinal diseases. He or she is specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive system diseases. However, this may include diseases and disorders that affect the biliary system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts), as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine (colon).

10. Gynecologist

A gynecologist specializes in the reproductive system of women. Gynecologists are sometimes also certified as obstetricians and will control maternal and fetal health during pregnancy.

11. Hospitalist

A hospitalist is a doctor who focuses on general medical care for patients in the hospital. His duties include patient care, education, research and leadership related to hospital medicine.

12. Immunologist

He specializes in immunology in the management of problems related to the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases.

13. Internist

An internal medicine doctor is an “internal medicine doctor” who can diagnose, treat and practice emotional care for adults across the spectrum, from health to complex diseases.

14. Naturopathic doctor

The natural doctor combines modern scientific medical practice with knowledge with natural and traditional forms of medical treatment. However, the goal is to address the underlying causes of the disease while stimulating the body’s healing powers.

15. Neurologist

Specialist in Neurology in the treatment of diseases of the human nervous system. And, it is a prestigious and very difficult medical specialty due to the complexity of the nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves.

16. Neurosurgeon

A neurosurgeon specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes congenital anomalies, trauma, tumors, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke or degenerative diseases of the spine.

17. Occupational Doctor

This doctor focuses on keeping people in a good job, mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, professional doctors play an important role in advising people about how their work affects their health.

18. Oncologist

Specialized in oncology in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The three main types of oncologists are Medical oncologists who specialize in the management of medications to kill cancer cells.

However, Surgical oncologists who perform surgeries to identify and remove cancerous tumors, and radiation therapy that treats cancer with radiation therapy.

19. Optometrist

An ophthalmologist is a specialist who deals especially with the structure, function, diseases, and treatment of the eye. Hence, due to the complexities of the eye and its importance as a special sensor that provides vision, specialization in ophthalmology is dedicated solely to this device.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Doctor In USA? | Faculty of Medicine

20. Oral and maxillofacial surgeon

Basically, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats dental and medical problems that involve the oral cavity and the maxillary and facial area. Also, the maxillofacial area includes the frontal and facial bones, cheekbones and soft tissues.

However, Treatment often includes surgical procedures and related procedures to treat diseases, defects or injuries and to improve function or appearance.

21. Orthopedic surgeon

The orthopedic surgeon examines, diagnoses and treats diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons and nerves.

22. Orthodontic straightener

The orthodontist specializes in how to align jaws and teeth. Also, it helps people whose teeth are heterogeneous or require some kind of correction, those with an inadequate bite or malocclusion.

23. Otolaryngologist

Otolaryngology specialists (or ENT doctors) are specialists trained to diagnose and treat patients with diseases, disorders of the ear, nose and throat and related structures of the head and neck. These specialists are trained in both medicine and surgery.

24. Pathologist

The pathologist studies the causes, nature, and effects of the disease. The pathology field is wide, with emphasis on the changes in cells, tissues, and organs that are the result of the disease.

25. The pediatric

A pediatrician specializes in providing medical care to babies, children and adolescents through the administration of treatments, therapies, medications, and vaccines to treat diseases, disorders or injuries.

26. Plastic surgery

A plastic surgeon specializes in reshaping healthy body parts for aesthetic reasons, as well as repairing or replacing body parts damaged by accidents, diseases or deformities.

27. Chiropodist

The pediatrician practices pediatrics, a branch of science dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg, and lower back.

28. Dental prosthesis technician

The dental prosthesis specialist specializes in restoring the shape, function, comfort, and health of the patient’s oral cavity with synthetic materials.

29. Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are doctors who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients with a temporary or chronic mental health problem.

30. Lung Pathologist

A lung pathologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary and thoracic diseases, especially pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complex chest infections.

31. Radiologist

A radiologist is a specialist in the interpretation of medical images that can be obtained with X-rays (CT or X-rays) or nuclear medicine (which includes radioactive or magnetic materials (MRI) or ultrasound.

32. Doctor of Sports Medicine

A sports medicine doctor specializes in the care of people with sports injuries that can be obtained by exercising, exercising or exercising.

33. Urologist

The urologist specializes in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and male reproductive systems. Urologists can treat the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, uterus, and male producing organs.

34. Veterinarian

A veterinarian who specializes in diagnosing and controlling animal diseases and treating sick and injured animals. The veterinarian general doctor spends from one third to half of his time in animal castration surgery, orthopedic procedures, orthopedics, dentistry, and trauma surgery.

35. Endocrine Zoo

The zoo’s endocrinologist mainly studies reproductive hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, in animals. Sometimes it is necessary to follow changes in animal hormone levels to help conserve endangered species by reproducing them in zoos.

How long does it take to Become a Doctor in the US

How long does it take to become a doctor in 2021 | BeMo®

Basically, Doctors in the United States spend many years obtaining the education and skills to practice medicine. Preparation for medical school usually begins in high school with an emphasis on mathematics and science.

Besides high school, education includes four typical periods: university education, medical school, residency, and scholarships for professionals.

If the major chosen by the doctor requires a long scholarship, it may take 15 years or more for your education from the moment you first enter the university.

Bachelor studies
To become a doctor, a student must first complete high school and then go to college.

Although a potential doctor may have a college degree in any field, it is advisable to study subjects such as anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and mathematics, in addition to other university courses necessary for a degree, such as English and foreign languages. Other common courses are physics and related science classes.

Moreso, Students must pass the medical school admission test, or MCAT, and submit an application to the medical school along with university texts, MCAT scores and letters of recommendation.

Admission to medical school is very competitive, so it is important to achieve high scores.

how long does it take to become a doctor uk?

In addition to the usual 5-6 years to study the Bachelor of Medicine and the Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), you must also complete two basic years of hospitalization, known as F1 and F2, and three years of professional training before you can qualify as GP.

In total, this works around 10-11 years to become a GP in the United Kingdom. Interestingly, you can also study on scholarship with any of the medical scholarships for UK citizens.

how long does it take to become a doctor in australia?

Undergraduate medicine in Australia (an MD, MChD, or MBBS – all are equivalent) usually takes 5 – 6 years of study, 1 year of internship and then 1 – 2 years as a Resident Medical Officer.

Postgraduate medicine in Australia usually takes 4 years to complete, then 1 year of internship and 1 – 2 years as a Resident Medical Officer.

how many years does it take to become a pediatrician?

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Pursuing a career in Pediatrics requires many years of studying and training. Your most important goals should be: Becoming a licensed medical doctor and getting a certification in Pediatrics.

At first, you have to take an undergraduate course in medical science, spend another four years of training in a medical school, and then proceed on your residency or internship program.

The residency program is relative. That is the point where you get to specialize in pediatric tasks such as preventing diseases in children, diagnosing and treating babies with birth defects, and helping children develop and grow in the best way possible.

It typically takes between 11 and 15 years to become a pediatrician. It takes an average of four years to complete a bachelor’s degree, another four years to complete medical school and another three to seven years to complete a residency program and possibly fellowship.

how many years to become a doctor in canada?

Finally, once you have passed the MCCEE examination and become a licensed physician, Canada law requires you to complete a residency program before you can work independently. The goal is to allow newly-licensed doctors to learn from more experienced professionals in a sort of mentoring system and to allow them to adapt to their new career choices. For family doctors, the residency lasts two years, but for specialists, residencies can last as long as six years. Beyond that, you could even choose a subspecialty with another two or three years’ residency.

It takes at least 10 years of education and residency to become a doctor in Canada, and in that time, you will take one of the most difficult examinations in the world – the MCCEE. With enough dedication and persistence, and with the drive to help others for a lifetime, you could be one of Canada’s next favorite physicians.

how long does it take to become a doctor in india?

After completion of class 10+2, one will have to clear the entrance examination and complete a 5 years MBBS course. 

The graduation course is for 5 years in India and then will have to do an internship. 

The upper age limit of 25 years for sitting in NEET has been scrapped. Thus students after graduation can apply for NEET. 

The student must have PCM subjects in class 12 with 50% in class 12 boards. 

how long does it take to become a doctor in south africa?

To become a doctor in South Africa you have to study for 6 years (5 years at UFS) or 7 years if you are on the extended programme provided you do not fail any year.

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