Becoming a Certified Medical Doctor
A doctor, medical practitioner, medical specialist, or just doctor practices internal medicine, that is, medicine concerned with restoring, promoting, or maintaining health through the diagnosis, analysis, treatment, and prevention of illness, injury, and related physical and psychological impairments. Some of these include diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases, prescribing medicines and therapies; monitoring patients’ health; instructing them regarding their diet; and advising them about their work or career. These medical practitioners acquire education by attending medical school and pass an examination administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) to become licensed in the United States. After graduating, they pursue a Doctorate program in internal medicine. Upon completion of their Doctorate program, they become a Doctor of Medicine (DMD).
There are two general areas of specialization that medical doctors can choose to pursue. One is a family practice, which involves treating individual patients with a special emphasis on treating their specific medical conditions. The second is geriatrics, a specialized area of medicine that addresses the medical conditions of older adults. Medical doctors may choose to pursue other specializations, including internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/maternity, neurology, plastic surgery, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, health and wellness, adult rehabilitation, and geriatrics. Many physicians also opt to specialize in a sub-specialty within one of these areas.
The field of medicine is divided into two main categories: clinical and research medicine. The clinical practice involves treating patients as the doctor sees fit under the guidance of a licensed physician. They usually perform routine medical exams and prescribe medications for a wide variety of ailments. Research medicine deals with studying diseases and performing research to find new treatments and cures. Whether specializing in a sub-specialty or not, all medical doctors must attend at least part of their educational requirements for training to be a doctor.
A medical doctor can specialize in any one of the three main areas of medicine: pediatrics, internal medicine, geriatrics, and surgery. Pediatric medical doctors treat children from birth through adolescence. These doctors focus on providing healthcare for low-income children and addressing childhood obesity, allergies, asthma, and health conditions that can arise from pregnancy. These doctors also evaluate and recommend medical care for newborns and diagnose and treat common childhood illnesses. Internal medicine medical doctors diagnose and treat ailments of the digestive and circulatory systems; they are particularly concerned with heart disease.
Geriatrics focuses on ensuring the health of older adults. These medical doctors often provide nursing care for the elderly, including helping them exercise and monitoring their nutrition and weight. These specialists provide information about diseases and health issues associated with the aging process and medical treatments. Family physicians work with patients to improve overall health and provide support after diagnosis or surgery.
All three areas of the medical doctors’ career require comprehensive education and training. The number of hours a doctor spends in school depends on which specialty he specializes in. All doctors who specialize in one of the areas must pass licensing exams and complete an associate degree at a community college. Some surgeons begin their careers as general surgeons and then become specialized by specializing in a particular medical field. To obtain a license, surgeons must complete a residency in a specific specialty.
To provide a high level of patient care, medical doctors are required to learn and perform various diagnostic tests and procedures. Diagnostic tests include blood and urine tests to detect diseases, infections, cancer, and hormonal disorders. Procedures used to diagnose and treat serious ailments include blood tests and physical exams.
To be certified by the American Medical Association, medical doctors must meet a minimum educational requirement and undergo a written proficiency exam. The written proficiency exam requires writers to demonstrate their knowledge and experience in a specific area. Applicants can take the exam online or in person, according to the state. There are currently eleven states that have requirements for certification by the American Medical Association.