According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of all physicians is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. This employment growth is not particularly surprising, as the growing and aging population will continue to need all types of physicians to help diagnose and treat a huge range of illnesses.
However, new technologies may slightly hinder the growth of physicians as these new technologies are expected to allow physicians to treat more patients in the same amount of time. Similarly, as nurses and physician assistants become more and more qualified, they will be expected to do many of the routine tasks of physicians, which will further slow the demand of them.
The career path to becoming a physicians is lengthy, with most spending eight years or more in school!
The career path to any speciality begins with an undergraduate degree that has work in biology, chemistry, physics, math and English. Whilst doing this, it is advisable to volunteer in a local hospital to gather some relevant work experience! This can be in any area, but it is advisable to look in the area you are thinking of specializing in.
After completing your undergraduate degree, you will then need to apply to medical school. Warning: these are highly competitive! To apply, you must submit your transcript and a letter of recommendation. You must also pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and attach your score to your application. To have the absolute best chances of getting accepted into medical school, you should have extracurricular activities, work experience and be able to show leadership qualities.
Whilst at medical school, you will spend the first 2 years in laboratories and classrooms where you will learn about anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics and the laws the govern medicine. In the last two years, the fun really begins as you will work with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians! You will work in a number of different areas (e.g., family practice, obstetrics and gynaecology) to gain experience in diagnosing and treating a wide range of illnesses.
Note: an alternative career path is to find a medical school that combines undergraduate degrees with medical school programs. These last 6 to 8 years, but very few schools offer this!
After medical school, all graduates will enter a residency program that focuses on the area they wish to specialize in. This can last anywhere from 3 to 7 years, depending on the speciality. It isn’t until after your residency (and obtaining the relevant licensure in your speciality… more on this below) are you a fully qualified physician.