Once the call has been heard, it is often hard for a student not to answer it. The desire to help others through medicine is a profound and worthy pursuit. It also takes many levels of education in order to gain a degree. There are many levels of doctor’s college degrees, depending on the area of medicine in which the aspiring physician intends to practice.

Levels of Doctors' Degrees

There are many levels of degrees for physicians, and they are dependent on the type of medicine that the student is attempting to pursue. All levels of doctors' degrees have a prerequisite of a high school diploma or equivalent along with acceptable MCAT scores. Also needed is a four-year bachelor’s degree followed by a medical degree or doctor of osteopathic medicine degree. They will also have had to complete pre-med courses or biological science classes before receiving their undergraduate degree and moving on to a four-year medical school. Finally, they will need three to seven years in an accredited residency. Some specialties require a fellowship either in place of or along with a residency. All physicians also have a state licensure requirement. Once a student has graduated from medical school, he continues his education in various ways in a hospital setting.

Doctor Hierarchy

Within a hospital, there is a hierarchy of physicians. It begins with medical students gaining real knowledge on the hospital floor, followed by interns. Next are the junior residents and senior residents, who are led by a chief resident. Following that are the residents and fellows. Finally, the house staff and hospitalists lead the attending physicians in the doctor hierarchy chain.

Related Articles

What Is a Resident Doctor?

After interning at a hospital and after passing the third-level exam, most physicians at this point pursue a residency in order to further their training before beginning their own general practice. The time spent as a resident can range from two to seven years. Surgeons tend to have a residency that will last from five to seven years, while family practitioners or general practitioners complete a two-year residency.

What Is an Attending Physician?

After completing all levels of training, the graduate student is an attending physician who is practicing her chosen specialty. Attending physicians are often trained as an M.D. or D.O. and are continuing their training. They usually work at teaching facilities and work under senior-level physicians. They are also charged with assisting medical students as they gain knowledge in the hospital setting.

About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.