A primer on medical education in the United States through the lens of a current resident physician.
Physician training and standards for medical licensure differ widely across the globe. The medical education process in the United States (US) typically involves a minimum of 11 years of formal training and multiple standardized examinations between graduating from secondary school and becoming an attending physician with full medical licensure. Students in the US traditionally enter a 4-year medical school after completing an undergraduate bachelor's degree, in contrast to most other countries where medical training begins after graduation from high school. Medical school seniors planning to practice medicine in the US must complete postgraduate clinical training, referred to as residency, within the specialty of their choosing. The duration of residency varies depending on specialty, typically lasting between 3 and 7 years. For subspecialty fields, additional clinical training is often required in the form of a fellowship. Many experts have called for changes in the medical education system to shorten medical training in the US, and reforms are ongoing in some institutions. However, physician education in the US generally remains a progression from undergraduate premedical coursework to 4 years of medical school, followed by residency training with an optional subspecialty fellowship.
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