Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Timeline of Medical Education

FLASHBACK SERIES: Blog posts written during my medical school days at Pacific Northwest University - College of Osteopathic Medicine

by Elia R. Cole, OMS III and Kim Ha Wadsworth, OMS III

As we begin our final year of medical school, we reflect on the journey we are on—four years of college, gap years pursuing post-baccalaureate courses, doing research and working, the start of medical school, and now graduation in sight just a short year away. We recall the countless conversations explaining to others the lengthy process of obtaining a medical education in the United States. Friends and family members outside of the medical profession sit on the sidelines, baffled by the unfamiliar terminology used to describe the ways in which each year of our education is spent.

Over the past decade that we have been working towards becoming physicians, we have noticed growing confusion within our social circles regarding why we are still in school, and how it is even possible that it will be years before we are licensed to truly practice medicine independently. In conversations with fellow medical students, it became clear that this bewilderment regarding the long process of medical education was practically universal.

Since completing the didactic years of medical school to begin clinical rotations, numerous well-intentioned friends and acquaintances have asked us, "How is it being a doctor now?" or "How is residency going?". We try to succinctly explain that we have actually not yet graduated from medical school and still have many more years of training even after that. Yet, our words are predictably followed by a perplexed look and a twinge of pity.

With these experiences in mind, we decided to draw out a simple timeline of medical education. We wanted an image that can be easily hung on a proud parent's or a dear friend’s fridge as a continuous, digestible snapshot of where their loved one is on this seemingly endless journey of becoming a physician. It is our hope that this infographic will provide a concise picture of the process of American medical education.