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Classes Needed to Become a Doctor

A doctoral degree is the minimum educational requirement for getting licensed as a medical doctor. Courses for aspiring doctors are available through programs at many medical schools.

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Essential Information

Two common types of degree programs include the Doctor of Medicine (M.D) and the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). Both programs last four years and prepare graduates for residencies, although admission requirements and curricula vary slightly. For example, D.O. programs tend to focus on preventative therapeutic techniques. Admission to both programs usually requires specific undergraduate math and science coursework and a completed bachelor's degree. Although they're rare, combined bachelor's and doctoral programs for aspiring doctors exist at some schools.

The first half of a medical school program focuses on classroom study and laboratory practice. The second half of the program includes clinical rotations at a medical facility, which provides students with hands-on experience in a variety of medical disciplines. In order to become a doctor, graduates go on to internships and residencies and must attain medical licensure for medical practice.

List of Courses

In medical school, students learn about basic and specialized patient care, human anatomy and physiology, and disease diagnostics and treatment. Descriptions of some sample courses in a medical school program are shown below.

Anatomy Course

Medical school students intensely study human anatomy, and they will probably take many anatomy classes throughout their studies. Anatomy classes for doctors might look at the human body as a whole, examine specific anatomical systems, discuss cellular structure and function or cover other specialized topics. Students will also learn about human anatomy from a clinical standpoint and normal and abnormal human development. Anatomy classes at some medical schools are broken down by systems, and students learn in both classroom and laboratory settings.

Patient Care Course

Doctors learn communication skills and patient examination in patient care classes. These courses might cover topics including medical records, diagnosis, treatment plans and professional medical ethics. In some doctor training programs, schools offer patient care courses throughout a medical student's education, while others offer the classes primarily in the first year. The skills learned in patient care classes are utilized by students throughout medical school during clinics, internships and other interactions with patients.

Pathology Course

Pathology classes teach doctor students about diseases from a cellular level. Medical school students enrolled in pathology classes learn about pathology research methods and cellular aging, along with how diseases work. Students learn through lecture and hands-on work, sometimes including autopsies and laboratory experiences. Many medical school students take multiple pathology classes.

Family Medicine Course

Medical school students who wish to practice family medicine take classes that teach them about the many aspects of caring for families. Students in these doctor classes might learn about religion as it pertains to medical care, care of families in both urban and rural areas and interview skills for asking family members about their medical histories. Some doctor programs require all medical students to take a family medicine class, while other programs reserve these classes for those who intend to practice family medicine. Those specializing in family medicine will take multiple classes in this topic. Generally, students learn in classroom and clinical settings, sometimes working with a family medicine practitioner.

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Popular Schools

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Medical Residency Programs
        • Medicine - MD
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Residency Programs
        • Medicine - MD
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
        • Medicine - MD
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
        • Medicine - MD
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
        • Medicine - MD
      • Nursing Professions
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
        • Medicine - MD
      • Nursing Professions
      • Optometric and Ophthalmic Services
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Residency Programs
        • Medicine - MD
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety

Popular Schools

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