Medical doctors usually begin their education by completing 4 years of college and receiving a bachelor's degree (baccalaureate) at an accredited college or university. They then attend 4 or more years of medical school. During medical school, students take classes in the cause, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Medical students learn how to assess a patient for a disease, plan and implement treatment, and evaluate the outcome of their intervention. After completing medical school, students earn the degree of medical doctor (MD) or osteopathic doctor (DO).
Most medical doctors then complete at least 3 years of a specialty training program (residency), which allows them to gain further experience in a specialty area under the supervision of doctors already experienced in that specialty. Following their residency, medical doctors may begin their own medical practice or continue their training in a subspecialty.
All medical doctors must have a current license to practice medicine. Most states require doctors to do continuing medical education (CME) in order to renew their medical licenses.
By Healthwise Staff Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Last Revised August 16, 2013