Tips on applying for medical school, getting into a residency program, and advice on where to start.
Beaut&Beast had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Rickesha Wilson for an inside scope on all things medical. Dr. Wilson is currently on track to become a surgeon and was able to chat with us about the process of becoming a doctor. For any mom looking to get into the medical field this tidbit is for you.
- What is your advice for mothers/women who are seeking a career in the medical field as a doctor? My greatest advice would be three-fold: have a mentor, a plan, and get experience! It’s critical that once you decide to go into the medical field that you find someone who can help you navigate the journey. Preferably someone who has done this themselves that may make the process easier for you. Next, map out a plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be. In college, I had a professor who was an ENT surgeon. He advised me on the steps I needed to take, the premed courses I needed, when the MCAT should be taken, and how to apply to medical school. Mapping out the journey is half the battle.Lastly, I suggest gaining experience in your desired field so that you can learn what that life looks like. Some people want to become a physician because it sounds like a good idea or Grey’s Anatomy is a great show, however, they are surprised once they are far along in the journey. Become an apprentice to a doctor,get enrolled in a summer program that exposes you to that field. You will learn whether or not this field is really for you.
- Are there resources available besides scholarships to pay for school? How do you go about applying? Scholarships from outside sources or from medical schools are absolutely great resources. Otherwise, there are grants, student and postgraduate loans, and dual degree programs that are fully funded. Be intentional about asking the financial aid officers at any medical school of any opportunities available.
- After completing medical school, what's next? Once a person completes medical school, they receive their Doctorate of Medicine (MD or DO). At this point, you are an actual doctor. A residency program is required for additional training in a specific specialty – surgery, pediatrics, primary care, internal medicine, orthopedic surgery, obstetrics and gynecology. A residency program can be as short as 3 years or as long as 9 years, depending on your chosen specialty. You usually apply for residency while still in medical school. After you interview at different residency programs, you rank the programs and they rank you-the applicant. There is a national day in medicine called the “match day”, where medical students across the country find out where they “matched” for residency. That becomes your new home for the next few years. Residency is a time of intense training in a specialty where you will likely work 80 hours a week (not kidding!). Once residency is completed, you can get additional training in fellowship or take testing to obtain your license to practice and become board certified so that you can practice independently and legally. I know this sounds like a lot, but don’t be overwhelmed. It’s a rewarding journey!
- Are there any specialty tracks available right after med school? Yes! If know what you want to do, you can apply to a program with that type of residency program. Remember, residency is a requirement after med school and during that time, you are able to select your specialty. Family medicine, Internal medicine, general surgery, plastic surgery, vascular surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, pediatrics, dermatology, anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN), ophthalmology, pathology, psychiatry, physical medicine and rehabilitation, medicine-pediatrics, urology, and ENT are all examples of types of specialties. I’m sure there are more I may be forgetting-I am post-call (term used by residents who have just had a long shift at the hospital, from 18-30 hours straight J).
- What is a fellowship? How long does it take? A fellowship is an additional one or more years of training in a specific specialty under the umbrella of your specialty in residency. For example, after an internal medicine residency, one might do a fellowship in cardiology or gastroenterology for 2 years. Or a general surgery resident may want to do a 2 year fellowship in pediatric surgery. Fellowships make you more competitive in today’s market of specialists in medicine.
- What undergraduate degree should you pursue if you’re interested in becoming a doctor? Great question! You should major in ANYTHING that interests you! College is your last chance to be formally educated in something other than medicine. If you like history, the arts, or are interested in business, you can major in those disciplines just as you can in the sciences. My advice to you would be to make sure that you plan out your undergraduate coursework so that you will take all prerequisites for medical school while pursuing your desired major. This may look like someone being Pre-Med Music or Anthropology. Medical school will prepare you with all you need to know in becoming a doctor.
- What's the competition like to get into medical school, in the United States and outside of it, etc.? Getting into medical school in the United States is likely the most competitive and is desired if you plan to practice medicine in the US.I have no experience in applying outside of the states. Getting into medical school is more competitive than getting into college because there are less schools but there are less applicants also. The more prepared you are as an applicant, your chances of getting into medical school increase. Do your best to maintain good grades in college, get experience in the medical field, and make a decent score on the MCAT (medical college admission test) and you have a good chance of admission. The number of medical schools you apply to have an impact as well.