Required and Recommended Qualification for Doctors

United States qualification for doctors is a lengthy process. According to the American Medical Association, qualification for doctors involves undergraduate education, medical school completion, and graduate-level medical education and training. Qualification for doctors also requires obtaining a license to practice medicine from the jurisdiction or state where the future doctor plans to practice.

Medical Education and Training

Education qualification for doctors typically takes 11 to 15 years, depending on the doctor’s specialty. Obtaining an undergraduate degree typically requires four years. Then, medical school may require another four years. A residency, or internship, is the next qualification for doctors. Students typically undergo a three-to-seven-year residency. After the first year of residency, the final medical licensing exam may be given.

Medical Board Certification and Fellowship

Board certification is a specialized qualification for doctors. Depending on the state or practice, this qualification may be optional. However, it is recommended that when selecting a doctor, patients should seek those with Board certification. Board certification is a qualification for doctors that confirms each doctor has received additional training in a specialized field of medicine, such as pediatrics and internal medicine.

Fellowship for Medical Subspecialties

A fellowship is a highly specialized qualification for doctors. A fellowship may last from one to three years. This qualification for doctors provides education and training for those who wish to pursue a subspecialty of a particular field. For example, a fellowship may train doctors in child and adolescent psychology, which is a subspecialty of psychiatry. Fellowship qualification for doctors may also include gastroenterology, which is a subspecialty of internal medicine.

How to Check Qualification for Doctors

Before selecting a doctor, you should perform research to ensure proper qualifications for treating your specific needs. A license is the most basic form of qualification for doctors. To check if a doctor is licensed, you can visit the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) at

You should also check to see if the doctor is Board-certified. A license from the state is a general qualification for doctors. It does not necessarily mean that a doctor is properly trained as an OB-GYN or psychiatrist. To check if a doctor is Board-certified, visit The American Board of Medical Specialties displays qualification for doctors such as board certification.

Teaching and Involvement

Since Board certification can be lifelong, some doctors may not receive continued education. In addition to checking required qualification for doctors, you can also look into whether or not the doctor’s practice is affiliated with a teaching medical school or hospital. These establishments include Mount Sinai or Columbia. This ensures that a doctor’s education remains relevant and ongoing. Additionally, check to see if the doctor has been published in medical reports or journals. Contributing to developing medical knowledge is a promising attribute.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

It is a good idea to ask your doctor some questions that are specific to your medical condition. What is his or her experience with your current medical condition? Do you have a disease that is rare, or requires surgery that very few medical professionals are actually experienced in? If that is the case, perhaps your doctor has a recommendation for the best candidate to perform your surgery. Be sure to ask how many times the medical professional has performed your particular surgery and what his or her success rates are.


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About the Author

Kenneth McKenna

Kenneth McKenna is a civil trial lawyer in Orlando, FL, specializing in medical malpractice. Contact Ken and the rest of the team at DWKMR&S by filling out the form below or calling 888.726.6735.

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