Physician Licensing and Certification
Become a Doctor / Physician…
- Career Plan: How to Become a Doctor / Physician
Pre-Med / Physician Resources
Each state has its own medical board that spells out what a candidate must do to get licensed and maintain that licensing. However there are some commonalities. You will need to take a series of examinations. Medical students generally take the first Step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) midway through medical school. Step 2, taken later, indicates readiness to practice under supervision, and Step 3, often taken during residency, indicates readiness for independent practice. Your state may also require a jurisprudence exam.
Osteopathic physicians take the COMLEX and sometimes the USMLE. Whichever of these paths you choose, you’ll be responsible for continuing medical education units.
Additional certifications are voluntary, but will enhance your professional credentials. According to the American Medical Association, most physicians do pursue them. The American Board of Physician Specialties certifies doctors in eighteen specialty areas. Osteopathic physicians may seek specialty certification through the American Association Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists.
The American Board of Medical Specialties also certifies doctors in a wide range of specialties. Examples include allergy and immunology, internal medicine, pediatrics, neurology, and vascular surgery. There are also subspecialty certificates available in many specialty areas. Internal medicine subspecialties include medical oncology, interventional cardiology, and nephrology among many others.
Continuing education is necessary to maintain certifications.