Meeting Community Health Care Needs Through Educational Partnerships
4201 Medical Drive, Box 126 | San Antonio, TX 78229
Phone: (210) 567-7818 | Fax: (210) 567-7823
The activities of the South Central AHEC are part of a South Texas effort by the Center for South Texas Programs at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, with core funding provided the State of Texas and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration.
The father of western medicine, Hippocrates once said that “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” Medicine is such a profession, one that dabbles in saving lives and helping people deal with pain. A medical degree aims to teach students the knowledge and skills needed in the medical profession.
Important Skills in Medicine
Medical degrees are designed in a way to provide students with knowledge and set of skills which will be very important throughout their medical career. The skills that students should learn are:
- Analytical skills to asses varied information
- Strong communication skills and people skills
- Thorough research skills
- Command over statistics and numeracy
- Ability to work in teams
- Self management and strong work ethic
- Stamina to work on your feet for long hours
Mastering these skills will allow you to better cope with the pressures of medical school and the medical profession.
Undergraduate Medical Degrees
The first step in obtaining a medical degree is to enroll in an undergraduate bachelor’s degree program with any science major. This can only be done once you have completed your high school diploma or an equivalent GED qualification. While many students chose to declare their major as ‘pre-med’, this is not a specific prerequisite to any medical degree.
The most commonly chosen medical undergraduate degrees are:
- B. Sc Chemistry
- B. Sc Biology
- B. Sc Physics
- B. Sc Pharmacology
These degrees are not a strict entry requirement for medical schools; however, these are the ones that are best equipped to prepare you for your higher education in medicine. Medical schools are very competitive and taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) will increase your chances of admission. The MCAT is a compulsory requirement for entry into most medical schools.
Graduate Medical Degrees
Medical degrees specialize in the prevention and cure of health conditions. After completing an undergraduate degree, medical students may choose to pursue a Doctor of Medicine degree.
Doctor of Medicine (MD)
The MD is typically a four year degree designed to equip students to be doctors of medicine. The degree includes theoretical courses, laboratory practicals and clinical training. Students study the four phases of medicine during their four years at university.
Phase One: Foundations of Medicine
During the first phase of medical school, students are taught along the lines of ‘how to be a doctor’ and an introduction to medical education. You will study basic courses such as:
- Healthy human physiology
- Clinical skills training
- Cultural competency
- Shadowing medical residents through their clinical rotations
Phase Two: Applications of Medical Science
The second year of medical school gives students an insight into the basic medical, surgical and clinical fields of medicine. It will be compulsory for you to complete a specific number of hours in hospital rotations to support theoretical concepts.
You will study courses such as:
- Gynecology and Obstetrics
Phase Three: Discovery
During the third phase of medical school, students are expected to undertake a research project. This can be done under the direction of a faculty member and in a topic that the students are interested in. Many students choose to combine their area of interest with medicine, such as:
- Community development
- Public health
- Creative writing
- Health policy
Phase Four: Transition to Practice
The last phase of medical school prepares students to transition into physicians. The required clinical rotations include:
- Critical Care (ICU)
- Emergency medicine
- Sub-internship in medicine, pediatrics or surgery
After completing MD, graduates are eligible to apply for a standardized national licensure exam called the U.S. Medical Licensing examination (USMLE).
Passing the USMLE allows you to either seek employment in a medical facility as a physician or teach medicine. Organizations like the South Central Area Health Education Center, San Antonio, Texas are committed to improving community healthcare administration through training initiatives and programs that require trained medical professionals.
Specialization in a Medical Degree
After completing the MD, many students choose to specialize in a field of medicine. However, specializing in medicine is not easy and requires many more years of study. In order to specialize, you may pursue any one of these degrees:
- Doctor of Internal Medicine—this specialization focuses on treating adult diseases. According to the American College of Physicians, internal medicine has subcategories ranging from cardiology and geriatrics to immunology and sports medicine.
- Doctor of Pediatric Medicine—pediatric medicine teaches students to care for the health science of children under the age of 18. Caring for the physical, emotional and mental health of children, are all important facets of this degree.
- Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine—osteopathic medicine is a kind of alternative medicine which is typically used to treat patients suffering from stress injuries, sports injuries and headaches.
Employment Outlook for Medical Degree Holders
In 2012, the Medical Group Management Association’s Physician Compensation and Production Survey revealed that the median annual pay of physicians varies greatly according to their practice type.
Type of Practice
Median Annual Pay
Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the overall employment of surgeons and physicians is expected to grow at 18% from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than average for all occupations.