What Degree Does a Doctor Need for Medical Practice?

Medical practice is a highly respected profession in the world today. In order to become a doctor, you need to obtain a particular degree. This article will provide a detailed guide on the degree a doctor needs for medical practice.

What is Medical Practice?

Medical practice is the act of treating patients with the aim of preventing, diagnosing, and treating their illnesses to improve their overall health. Doctors undergo multiple levels of education to obtain their degrees and gain the skills and knowledge required to provide medical care.

Types of Degrees Required for Medical Practice

1. Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is the first step towards a medical career. Students usually opt for programs that are science-based such as biology, chemistry or biochemistry. The duration of a Bachelor’s degree is usually four years, with the first two years focused on general studies and the last two on core subject classes that are relevant to medical practice.

2. Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) Degree

The Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree is the most common degree required for medical practice. The duration of the program is typically four years, after which students must complete a residency program. A residency program is essentially on-job training under the supervision of experienced physicians. It can last from three to seven years, depending on the specialty.

3. Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) Degree

The Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree is similar to the M.D. degree, but it has a slightly different curriculum. DOs have additional training in the musculoskeletal system, and they emphasize a holistic approach to medicine. They also use manipulation techniques to diagnose and treat illnesses.

Specialties Within Medical Practice

1. Surgery

Surgeons are medical doctors who are skilled in performing surgeries. Surgery is a specialty that requires additional years of training through a surgical residency program.

2. Pediatrics

Pediatrics is a specialty that focuses on the care of children, from infants to adolescents. It requires an additional three years of residency after obtaining an M.D. or D.O. degree.

3. Cardiology

Cardiology is a specialty that focuses on the care of the heart and cardiovascular system. A cardiologist must complete a three-year residency program in internal medicine and an additional three years in cardiology.

Skills Required for Medical Practice

1. Communication Skills

Effective communication skills are essential for healthcare providers. Doctors must be able to efficiently communicate with their patients and their colleagues. They must be empathetic and have strong listening skills to better understand their patients’ concerns.

2. Decision-Making Skills

Doctors are required to make critical decisions on their patient’s behalf. These decisions could mean the difference between life and death, and as such, doctors must have the ability to assess situations quickly and accurately.

3. Attention to Detail

Medical practice is an intricate profession, and as such, it requires doctors to be attentive to detail. They must be thorough in their diagnosis and treatment of patients, as even the smallest mistakes could have dire consequences.

How to Become a Medical Doctor

1. Research on Medical Schools

Research on schools that offer medical programs to gain insight into their admission requirements, curriculum, and average class sizes. This information can be obtained from their websites or by contacting their admissions office.

2. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

Students must complete a bachelor’s degree in a science field such as biology, chemistry, or biochemistry.

3. Pass the MCAT

Students need to pass the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) to gain admission into medical school.

4. Complete Medical School

Medical school is a four-year program that enables students to gain knowledge in medical fields such as anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, and biochemistry, among others.

5. Complete Residency Program

After completing medical school, graduates must complete a residency program that could last from three to seven years, depending on the specialty.


1. What is the duration of a medical degree?

A medical degree typically lasts four years in medical school, followed by a residency program that could last from three to seven years.

2. Can one become a medical doctor without a medical degree?

No. In order to become a medical doctor, one must obtain a medical degree from an accredited medical school.

3. Are there different types of medical degrees?

Yes. The two most common medical degrees are Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).

4. What’s the difference between M.D. and DO degrees?

The primary difference between the M.D. and DO degree is the emphasis on a holistic approach to medicine, and training in the musculoskeletal system for DOs.

5. Is a residency program required for medical practice?

Yes. A residency program is required for medical practice. It is an on-job training program that provides medical graduates with experience under the supervision of experienced physicians.


  • American Association of Medical Colleges (2021). Become a Doctor. Retrieved from https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/becoming-doctor/
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Physicians and Surgeons. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm

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