How to become a plastic surgeon

I get emails and Youtube messages frequently from high school or college students asking for advice on becoming a doctor or plastic surgeon.  I just finished answering two such emails tonight, prompting this post.

The first step is getting into college.  There is no reason to focus on medicine in high school, there will be plenty of time for that.  Take classes that interest you and do well in them.  Stay out of trouble.  Alcohol damages the growing mind.

In college, continue taking classes that interest you.  Most students think math and science are the most important subjects for an aspiring doctor.  You will need an excellent core in math and science, but it is actually harder to get into medical school with a science degree than almost anything else.  It is hard to stand out among all of the other Biology major applicants.  (I was a Biology major and Chemistry minor).

Great grades and MCAT scores are an absolute necessity.  These set the viable interview candidates apart.

You will have a lot of pressure to do volunteer and research projects.  Find research and volunteer opportunities that interest you.  Do these things because you enjoy them, not because you feel pressured.  If you are excited about these projects your excitement will shine through in medical school interviews.  The contrary is also true.

Just as valuable, and often more enjoyable, are your other interests.  Sports, art, cars, travel, you name it.  Medical school acceptance committees are looking for bright, well-rounded individuals.

To become a plastic surgeon, you will need to do very well during the four years of medical school.   During the 3rd and 4th years of medical school you will apply and interview for residency programs.

Residency is the most time consuming, difficult part of the whole journey.  But also the most fun.  All of your hard work is starting to pay-off.  You are using the knowledge you have gained in a practical manner.  You are learning the technical skills of surgery.

After six years of residency, written and oral examinations followed by board certification!

The process is a 14-16 year marathon, but one you will look back on fondly.

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