Medical Schools Colleges & Universities

A Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) is a medical practitioner who diagnoses and treats patients who are physically or mentally ill. Doctors with medical degrees are highly respected by many due to the value ascribed to the ability to prescribe and administer treatments that heal. The academic training is rigorous, and the hours are often long, but the monetary and emotional rewards are substantial. Is medicine right for you?

The Healing Arts: Medical Degrees and Careers: Key Personal Attributes for Doctors of Medicine: If you want to be an effective Doctor of Medicine, you should be a strong academic performer and retain information well. You should have excellent problem-solving skills, and you should enjoy interacting with patients. Since healthcare is a team effort, you should be able to work well with others. Most importantly, you should possess a strong commitment to patient care.

Admission Requirements for Medical Colleges: A bachelor's degree is almost always required for admission into M.D. programs in the U.S. Degrees in biology or related sciences are the most common fields of study for M.D. program applicants, but any field is acceptable so long as the applicant has taken the required science and math coursework. Additionally, applicants must take and perform well on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Admissions committees also look favorably on volunteer experience in the healthcare field.

Available Degrees in Medicine: To practice medicine in the United States, you must possess a M.D. degree from an accredited institution. It is also possible to practice with a degree in osteopathic medicine (D.O.), which involves training with a more holistic focus.

Top-Ranked Osteopathic Medical Schools: U.S. News and World Report publishes rankings of degree programs in a wide range of fields. Rankings are based on job placement rate, faculty/student ratio, and program funding, among other criteria. The highest ranked medical schools include:

  • • Harvard University
  • • University of Pennsylvania
  • • Johns Hopkins University
  • • University of California--San Francisco
  • • Washington University in St. Louis

Medical Associations: Many opportunities exist for doctors of medicine to gain membership in professional societies and organizations. The American Medical Association is the largest M.D. organization in the United States, and each medical specialty (such as surgery, cardiology, or psychiatry) also has its own medical association or society.

Current Income and Employment Information for Individuals with Degrees in Osteopathic Medicine: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2009, the mean annual wage for those individuals employed as physicians across all industries in the U.S. was $173,860. More than half of all physicians were employed by physician's offices, while roughly a quarter were employed by general medical and surgical hospitals; however, the highest-paying employers for these jobs were outpatient care centers, with a mean annual wage of $205,970. Other industry sectors that are major employers of physicians include the Federal Executive Branch and colleges, universities, and professional schools.

On a state level, the mid-Atlantic states of New York and Maryland ranked highly among states with a high concentration of physician employees (4.8 and 3.6 per thousand workers in May 2009, respectively). The highest paying states were Minnesota and Indiana, with annual mean wages of over $210,000.

Between 2008 and 2018, national employment of medical doctors is expected to grow by an impressive 22 percent. Of note, the growing and aging population is expected to drive demand for physicians for the foreseeable future.

With excellent job prospects, very high wages, and a challenging work environment, a medical career can be a smart choice. Is it right for you?

The writer Dave Raiser is a doctoral candidate in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Harvard Medical School. In addition to substantial experience in biomedical research, his industry experience includes work for a biological and clinical data search engine company, a biotechnology review blog, and an idea-to-market inventor services company. Dave has bachelor's degrees in biology and music from the University of Richmond.

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