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How to Become a Doctor in India

India has a shortage of around five lakh doctors, says a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO). India’s doctor-patient population ratio currently stands at 1:1674, while the WHO recommends a minimum of 1:1000.

The urgent need for doctors, however, is not the only reason why more and more students are showing interests to enter into this profession. There are several other motivations, ranging from high income and job security to personal calling and a chance to help people directly.

A qualified doctor can choose to practice at a clinic, work in private nursing homes or government hospitals, or move abroad for a better career opportunity. In India, junior doctors can expect a starting salary of around Rs 5lakh per annum. With experience, your annual income as a doctor could be up to Rs 30lakh or even higher.

However, studying medicine is a long-term commitment and involves hard work. You should not choose this career path on a whim. Here are the steps to become a doctor in India.

Step1 – Be eligible

You need to study 10+2 with Physics, Chemistry and Biology and secure at least 60 percent marks to be eligible to appear for medical entrance examinations in India. In fact, you should start preparing for the entrance exam right after your class X exam.

Step2 – Clear the Entrance Exam

A number of medical entrance exams are conducted in India at national and state levels. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) conducts the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) to select candidates for admission into more than 400 medical colleges located across India. NEET recently replaced the All India Pre-Medical Entrance Exam (AIPMT) and several state level entrance exams, although some states still conduct their own entrance tests. In addition, several medical institutes and autonomous organizations conduct separate entrance exams, such as, All India Institute of Medical Sciences Entrance Test (AIIMS) and CMC Vellore Common Entrance Test (CMC CET). You need to clear one of the above medical entrance tests to secure admission into MBBS.

Nearly 12lakh candidates compete for only around 56,000 seats available in the medical colleges across the country. Clearly, the competition is very tough. So you should start early, know the syllabus and exam patterns and attempt the previous year’s test papers as part of your preparation. You can also consider joining coaching classes for the entrance exam.

Step 3 – Earn a bachelor’s degree

Upon clearing the entrance exam, you get a chance to enrol in a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) degree course. The duration of the course is 4 years and six months. After completing the course, you must also complete a rotating residential internship for another year. This means the total duration of MBBS in India is 5.5 years. The course introduces you to all important subjects, including human anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, orthopaedics, general medicine, and general surgery. You’ll also get practical training simultaneously from seasoned doctors at the outpatient and inpatient departments of your medical college or hospital.

Step4 – Start professional career or study further

After MBBS, you can either start practising as a doctor or enrol in a post graduate course. If you choose to continue your studies, you need to choose your specialism. Specializations are available in various streams, including medicine, neurosurgery, cardiology, and orthopaedics, to name a few. The awards conferred after post graduation depends on your area of specialization. For instance, an MBBS doctor who specializes in medicine is known as an M.D. (Doctor of Medicine), while a doctor with a post graduate degree in surgery is called an M.S. (Master of Surgery). The duration of the post graduation course is three years. There are also some diploma courses, which take around two years to complete. After post graduation, you can study even further for super specialization on your chosen stream.

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