How Do You Become a General Practice Physician?

General Practice Physician If you’re considering a career in medicine, you may want to become a general practice physician. These doctors, also known as primary care physicians, help people with all ages with their day-to-day medical concerns. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicians make an average annual salary of approximately $187,200, and growth of this field is expected to be rapid over the next ten years. The general practice field is projected to grow by 20 percent, which means there will be ample new jobs for doctors in this specialty.

Prepare During High School

Medical school admissions are competitive, so it’s not too early to begin preparing before you graduate high school. Specifically, you should focus on earning a high GPA, particularly in your math and science courses. High marks in biology, anatomy and physiology, and other relevant courses will help you get into a great undergraduate pre-med program. Your guidance counselor can help advise you on which schools to target based on your region, academic performance, and personal goals. Consider working part time or volunteering in a primary care setting so you can get a sense of what the life of a doctor in this specialty entails.

Complete Your Undergraduate Education

While you may want to attend an undergraduate program that is specifically geared toward students interested in applying to medical school, the reality is that you do not need to major in a specific subject to qualify. However, it makes sense to review the prerequisites of the medical schools you’re interested in and choose a major that fulfills those. Biology, chemistry, and psychology are popular major choices for pre-med students. Again, medical school admission is quite competitive, so you’ll want to make sure to excel in relevant courses. During your junior year, you’ll be taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which is critical for your med school applications.

Attend Medical School

In most cases, the first two years of medical school focuses on core classes like anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics, as well as practical skills that are needed to work with patients. During the second two years, you’ll be rotating through various specialties to help determine what area of medicine you want to focus on. Toward the end of your medical school career, you’ll have the opportunity to apply to residency programs, which typically last three or four years. As an aspiring general practice physician, you’ll want to apply to residencies in primary care.

Related Resource: Become a Surgeon

After completing your residency, you are qualified to become certified as a practicing primary care physician. In order to practice, you must pass the qualifying exams. Those with an M.D. degree take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), while those who have earned a D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). If you want to become a general practice physician, you may strive to earn either type of degree.