Guest post from SciCheer Amanda: “From medical student to physician.”

amanda columbia science cheerleader St. Louis RamsHi, it’s Amanda (St. Louis Rams cheerleader-turned-physician!). I thought I’d share my experience with fans who might wonder what happens after medical school, when you first become a doctor.  How does a medical student get their first job as a physician?  Well, as a Science Cheerleader, I just completed medical school and received my first job as a doctor earlier this month and would love to tell you about it!

Let’s talk for a moment about the path to becoming a doctor. It is important to have a good foundation in high school with lots of math and science (think algebra, trigonometry, calculus, biology, physics and more!). Next, a bachelor’s degree after typically four years of college at a liberal arts college or a university is required for admission to an American medical school.  After four years of medical school, an M.D. degree is granted. It’s the M.D. that makes you a doctor.  Taking care of people is serious business though so doctors typically get extra training in a particular specialty; this is called residency. After residency, a doctor takes a licensing exam that demonstrates she has completed her training. 

After four years of medical school at Columbia I’ve completed my studies and will be starting residency training in obstetrics and gynecology (taking care of women and expectant mothers) in July.  Residency positions are extended to senior medical students through a program called “the match.” Students, including myself, apply to residency programs across the country. After being interviewed, each student ranks the programs they have visited.  Simultaneously, the programs looking to hire new doctors rank each candidate that they interview.  Both groups submit their request through an organization called the NRMP.  The lists are then processed in a computer that takes all the requests. Using an algorithm (designed by an economist), the computer attempts to give each student a position at their highest ranked training program.  On the third Friday in March, across the country, all medical students participating in the match open an envelope that reveals an offer at one and only one residency program.  And so Science Cheerleader fans, I matched at Columbia’s New York Presbyterian Hospital and will get to work this July!  If you have any questions about this process, let me know but emailing penpal@sciencecheerleader.com !