How do I go about becoming a doctor?

I am a 25 year old un-employed bartender. I have decided that I want to do medical research on how the mind works, but I don’t know where to start.

Is it to late for me to start a medical degree? What must I do to become a research doctor?

Do you have no college? Likely you would have to take the SAT or ACT and get into a pre-med program. You could get a Bachelors of Science (Biochemistry or something on the upper end is recommended, as the number of biology major pre-meds, at least in my school, is pretty high). I have heard some schools have a 3 year pre-med school, and I don’t know if you have an advantage of doing it this way or with a Bachelors. Then you have to apply for a med school that supports a dual MD/PhD, though I suppose non PhD doctors get research positions.

It’s easy.

Get a bachelors degree in a biological science field from a good school and finish with a very high GPA. This should take you four or five years if you are a full time student.

Next you will need to take the MCAT (kind of like the SAT or GRE but more difficult) and score very well.

These two things will allow you to apply for medical school. Medical school will take you an additional four years.

Next you will have to apply for a internship/residency in your field of choice. How well you do in med school will determine if you are able to get a spot in your field of choice and at how good of an institution. There are only a limited number of slots each year for each specialty. This will take three to six years depending on the specialty.

Finally, you can apply for a job in your field and get started.

Good luck and keep us posted!

I’m not sure just MD school will guarantee you a research job. I am sure there are those that don’t have them, but according to :

Seems a dual MD/PhD has it’s benefits.

I don’t understand. What would my first step be?

If the OP wants to do research on how the mind works (neuroscience, neuropsychology, or something associated), it’s important to note that one does not need to be a medical doctor to do so. Most researchers in these fields are not medical doctors, and barring a few exceptions, there’s no real need to be one. If one needs to do research in the context of patient treatment, one can collaborate with an MD.

To get a PhD in neuroscience, one would typically get a BS in a biology-related discipline (4 years), score well on the GRE, and enter a PhD program (4-6 years).

To get an MD/PhD from a joint program, you would do the same sort of preparation as for medical school (Bachelor’s degree with pre-med courses - you don’t have to major in the biological sciences, you just have to have the right courses under your belt), do well on the MCAT, and apply to an MD/PhD program.

You would also need to have some research experience under your belt (acquired during your time as an undergraduate), and typically something that makes you stand out. The reason this is necessary is because average MD/PhD enrollments are an order of magnitude smaller than average medical school enrollments (10 vs 100), and the competition is very fierce.

There’s also a backdoor through computer science - neuroinformatics is a relatively new discipline studying the computational aspects of the brain’s functioning.

Sometimes longer… :o

Though of course, even during your BS program you can probably get a part-time & summer research job. And a Ph.D program is basically a full-time research “job.”

First steps of course would be the same. Take your SAT and apply to a college preferably under a science major of some sort (biological or biochemical).

The undergraduate major does not necessarily have to be in life science or even in science at all, although substantial physics, chemistry, and biology are recommended.

Come to think of it, it seems that majoring in any one science might not leave you enough time to take the units you need in the others.

Like in high school? I take the SAT then apply to where?

But that’s still a PhD, or an MD/PhD should you want to add a medical degree to it.

Just to clear something up for the OP, an MD/PhD is not a “special degree” that has the attributes of both an MD and a PhD; It is two separate degrees, awarded simultaneously upon the completion of a joint program. I am currently enrolled in such a program, and I need to fulfill the independent obligations of both a medical student and a graduate student. When I am done with my graduate program obligations (finished all classes, served as a T.A., passed my qualification, preliminary, and final exams, and deposited my dissertation), and my medical program obligations (finished all classes, passed the USMLE Step 1, Step 2, and Clinical Skills exams, and completed my clinical training to the satisfaction of my preceptors), I will receive two separate degrees. The “MD/PhD program” is just a convenient way of simultaneously applying to both programs and being in that “box” during your time in the university.

Not at all. Nothing forces a student to be idle during the summer, or to finish in four years, etc. I completed two majors, computer science and biochemistry, in five years of study. I know plenty of people who completed the pre-med requirements while majoring in something completely unrelated (philosophy, or music, or engineering, or interpretive dance) and finished in four years.

If you already have a degree, my school has the program for you:

Depends on your location and your preferences of course. Any 4 year accredited collage would do for your undergrad.

Best bet is to look at the colleges in the area and write them an email asking what their procedures are and such, some might offer practice SATs and the like.

And yeah, sort of like high school. I personally went the community college route because I was 26 when I started college and knew there was no way I would score great on the SAT.

Apply to the university of your choice.

Hey, I wanna shill for my alma mater too! :smiley:

When you say “how the mind works”, do you mean from a biological or a psychological standpoint.

If you’re looking from a bio point of view, the first step would depend on whether you have a bachelors degree, and which Med School prerequisite courses you have taken.

If you are starting without a bachelors, the first thing to do is get one, preferably in the biological sciences. Independent research and internships and the like will help bolster your Med School admissions profile. In completing your degree, make sure that you take all of the necessary Med School prerequisite courses (the university career office should be able to advise you what they are).

If you already have a bachelors, the question becomes whether you have the prereq’s. My understanding is that med schools don’t really care what you major in, just that you have the necessary basics. In fact, the schools might prefer a music major, who has managed to fit all the necessary chem, physics, bio, etc. into his or her schedule, rather than just another biochem major grind.

If you need more coursework, there are several colleges that offer post-bachelors medical programs, or you can just fill in what you need by taking courses at a local college. I understand that medical schools look favorably at people who have after mature consideration decided they want a medical career and shown the initiative to go back to school, as compared to those who have simply trod the more typical and well-worn path applying in one’s senior year among the herd of science majors.

Once you are sufficiently down the road in this process, just apply to Med School. If you want to improve your chances of getting in, perhaps you can consider a taking masters in a biological science, preferably with a research focus, or get a job in a lab or cliinical environment. If you like the pure research (rather than the clinical treatment) element, you could considery applying for biological Ph.D. programs, which would qualify you to research and teach, though not directly treat conditions.

As for looking into the psychological angle, there are non-medical graduate programs in psychology that could lead to a professional qualification as a Psychologist (with a Ph.D. or a Psy.D.), which would allow you to research as well as treat (though not prescribe medications) if professionally licensed.

I started college at 24, at an accredited university. I did not have to take the SAT’s or ACT’s. All I had to do was supply my high school transcripts.

Obviously, YMMV.