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Extreme training: What it takes to become a physician

Bookmark and Share What kind of people sign up for at least seven years of advanced academic training after college? Who would submit themselves to years of sleepless nights, sometimes working 30 hours straight? Who is willing to be tested on their professional knowledge for the rest of their working lives? They're called physicians: individuals who take on the superhuman responsibility of caring for us when we are ill and, very often, saving our lives. Who becomes a doctor?
Medical school is not for the faint-hearted
The "rotation" years
Choose one: the crucial fourth year
Board-certification is a valued credential
A lifetime of learning

Who becomes a doctor?
If you go to any high school biology laboratory you'll spot the budding doctor bent over that strange stuff growing in the petri dish. Love of science, top-of-the-class grades in high school and college, a roster of extra-curricular activities, and the ability to score in the uppermost percentile in the MCAT exam, the medical college admission test, are mandatory for becoming a physician. Most important is the deep desire to help others. As Lawrence Deutsch, MD, Virtua orthopaedic spine surgeon says: "There is no greater feeling than watching a patient who was once paralyzed now walk into my office. It's the reason I went into medicine." Medical school is not for the faint-hearted
Jeff Komins, MD, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Virtua Memorial Hospital and medical director of obstetrics and gynecology risk and accreditation, puts it this way: "Even the most accomplished students find the first two years of medical school formidable. Enormous amounts of reading, memorization and testing are required to learn how a normal body functions, as well as the thousands of things that can go wrong at every stage of life." The "rotation" years
Years three and four of medical school are mainly spent in the hospital, where students rotate through different specialties and, under the supervision of an attending senior physician, start caring for patients. Choose one: the crucial fourth year
As medical school graduation approaches, students apply for internships and residencies. This next phase of training involves selecting an area of medical specialty and training for another three to 12 years. Residencies are highly competitive to obtain, and are offered in many fields. After Josh Brodkin, MD, a board-certified Virtua West Jersey Hospitals interventional radiologist, graduated from four years of medical school, he completed a one-year surgery internship, then embarked on a four-year radiology residency followed by two more years of fellowship training. That's 11 years of post college training. Board-certification is a valued credential
After completing a residency, students are tested on the knowledge in their medical specialty. Passing these difficult exams, called board exams, enables a physician to achieve board certification. For patients, this credential translates into the highest level of expertise. Stephen Pilipshen, MD, Virtua Memorial Hospital colorectal surgeon, is actually double board certified. Dr. Pilipshen successfully completed residency training and testing in both surgical oncology and in a second field — colorectal surgery. Every medical student who wants a license to practice medicine in this country must also pass all three parts of the United States Medical Licensing Examination. A lifetime of learning
To stay on top of the vast amount of new scientific and medical information, Virtua physicians attend education conferences, read medical journals, get involved in research and participate in hospital "grand rounds" where current cases are discussed. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Every few years, physicians must be re-certified in their specialty to make sure they are current with the latest medical knowledge. Whether you need a yearly check-up with a primary care physician or the servicers of a specialist — Virtua has exceptional, board-certified physicians to help you. For more information or to make an appointment, call toll-free 1-888-Virtua-3.