What types of degrees do you need to become a cardiologist?

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2009-10-08 19:49:35

The common path to practicing as a physician requires 8 years of

education beyond high school and 3 to 8 additional years of

internship and residency. All States, the District of Columbia, and

U.S. territories license physicians.

Education and training. Formal education and training requirements

for physicians are among the most demanding of any occupation-4

years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and 3 to

8 years of internship and residency, depending on the specialty

selected. A few medical schools offer combined undergraduate and

medical school programs that last 6 years rather than the customary

8 years.

Premedical students must complete undergraduate work in physics,

biology, mathematics, English, and inorganic and organic chemistry.

Students also take courses in the humanities and the social

sciences. Some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to

gain practical experience in the health professions.

The minimum educational requirement for entry into medical school

is 3 years of college; most applicants, however, have at least a

bachelor's degree, and many have advanced degrees. There are 146

medical schools in the United States-126 teach allopathic medicine

and award a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree; 20 teach osteopathic

medicine and award the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)


Acceptance to medical school is highly competitive. Applicants must

submit transcripts, scores from the Medical College Admission Test,

and letters of recommendation. Schools also consider an applicant's

character, personality, leadership qualities, and participation in

extracurricular activities. Most schools require an interview with

members of the admissions committee.

Students spend most of the first 2 years of medical school in

laboratories and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy,

biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, microbiology,

pathology, medical ethics, and laws governing medicine. They also

learn to take medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose

illnesses. During their last 2 years, students work with patients

under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals and

clinics, learning acute, chronic, preventive, and rehabilitative

care. Through rotations in internal medicine, family practice,

obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery,

they gain experience in the diagnosis and treatment of


Following medical school, almost all M.D.s enter a

residency-graduate medical education in a specialty that takes the

form of paid on-the-job training, usually in a hospital. Most D.O.s

serve a 12-month rotating internship after graduation and before

entering a residency, which may last 2 to 6 years.

A physician's training is costly. According to the Association of

American Medical Colleges, in 2004 more than 80 percent of medical

school graduates were in debt for educational expenses.

Licensure and certification. All States, the District of Columbia,

and U.S. territories license physicians. To be licensed, physicians

must graduate from an accredited medical school, pass a licensing

examination, and complete 1 to 7 years of graduate medical

education. Although physicians licensed in one State usually can

get a license to practice in another without further examination,

some States limit reciprocity. Graduates of foreign medical schools

generally can qualify for licensure after passing an examination

and completing a U.S. residency.

M.D.s and D.O.s seeking board certification in a specialty may

spend up to 7 years in residency training, depending on the

specialty. A final examination immediately after residency or after

1 or 2 years of practice also is necessary for certification by a

member board of the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) or

the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). The ABMS represents 24

boards related to medical specialties ranging from allergy and

immunology to urology. The AOA has approved 18 specialty boards,

ranging from anesthesiology to surgery. For certification in a

subspecialty, physicians usually need another 1 to 2 years of


Other qualifications. People who wish to become physicians must

have a desire to serve patients, be self-motivated, and be able to

survive the pressures and long hours of medical education and

practice. Physicians also must have a good bedside manner,

emotional stability, and the ability to make decisions in

emergencies. Prospective physicians must be willing to study

throughout their career to keep up with medical advances.

Advancement. Some physicians and surgeons advance by gaining

expertise in specialties and subspecialties and by developing a

reputation for excellence among their peers and patients. Many

physicians and surgeons start their own practice or join a group

practice. Others teach residents and other new doctors, and some

advance to supervisory and managerial roles in hospitals, clinics,

and other settings.

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bachelors degree

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