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How to Set Goals to Become a Doctor

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Due to the competitiveness of the medical field, becoming a doctor may seem like a daunting task. Doctors must complete more than 11 years of schooling, pass challenging exams and work long hours in their residencies. Yet becoming a doctor is possible if you set the right goals and work hard to achieve them. Aspiring doctors need to get good grades, score highly on the MCAT, perform well in medical school and apply themselves during their residency.

Visualize your goals by writing down a timeline. Compose a list of short-term goals (what you want to accomplish in the next 3 to 12 months) and long-term goals (what you want to accomplish in the next five years). Your short-term goals may consist of performing well in your science classes and gathering a list of medical schools you'd like to attend. Your long-term goals may consist of getting into medical school and landing your top choice in a residency. Keep this list in a prominent place to remind you of your goals.

Develop good study habits. Since doctors spend more than 10 years in school, you will need to excel as a student from high school to college to medical school. Set goals to finish your homework on time, to study hard for tests and to maintain a high grade point average.

Prepare for standardized tests. Set a goal to achieve high scores on the standardized tests you must take to become a doctor: the SAT, the MCAT and the USMLE. To study for these tests, you can purchase a test preparation book, sign up for a preparatory class or form a study group with other aspiring doctors.

Make a list of colleges and medical schools you would like to attend. After you have chosen 6 to 10 schools where you would like to apply, set goals to make yourself an attractive applicant to these universities. Research the GPA and test scores of incoming students and aim to match these numbers yourself.

Map out your finances. To become a doctor, you will need to secure student loans or scholarships to pay for college and medical school. Set a goal to apply early for loans and scholarships to ensure you have the means to pay for your education.

Be flexible with your goals. At some point, you will likely need to alter your short-term and long-term goals in becoming a doctor. Try not to get frustrated if you are unable to meet some of your goals. Instead, develop new goals for yourself and work hard to reach them.


A native of Washington, D.C., Caroline Tung Richmond has worked as a freelance writer since 2007. Her articles have appeared in both print and online publications such as the "Baltimore Sun," "Highlights" and She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brigham Young University.

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