For more information on careers in this field, click on the appropriate profession(s) in the Career Explorer section of this site.
Physicians (M.D.s/D.O.s) diagnose illness and injury, prescribe and administer treatment, and advise patients about how to prevent and manage disease.
There are two paths to becoming a doctor: allopathic medicine, which leads to an M.D. (medical doctor), or osteopathic medicine, which leads to a D.O. (doctor of osteopathic medicine).
To learn more about pursuing a career in allopathic medicine, see the Association of American Medical Colleges site, www.AspiringDocs.org. To find accredited osteopathic medical schools, see the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine website. The American Osteopathic Association includes an updated map of useful information spanning the globe about International Practice Rights for Osteopathic Physicians.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) posts informative Meet the Experts podcasts on topics of interest to students considering a career in medicine. AAMC also has an Ask the Experts column that provides authoritative perspectives on issues related to becoming a doctor.
The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) also have helpful guidelines for anyone considering a medical career. Whether you opt to become an allopathic or osteopathic physician, you must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) before applying to any med school program.
For a fascinating glimpse into the real-life experiences of seven doctors, see NOVA Online's special feature, "Survivor M.D."
You can download, save and print a PDF of this overview:
Note: The cost of earning a degree in medicine is high, but different avenues are available for funding your education. For more information, see the Find Funding section of this Website, and/or check out the Association of American Medical Colleges' Financial Information, Resources, Services and Tools (FIRST) for Students webpage.
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Osteopathic Physician (D.O.)
Palliative Care Doctor
Last updated: May 23, 2013
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