Physician Education and Training
Physicians are the most highly educated, trained, and skilled health care
professionals. Their training lasts between seven and 15 years and
includes tens of thousands of hours of hands-on patient care. Throughout
their lives, physicians are constantly updating their practice to reflect
the latest medical knowledge and research, emerging public health threats,
and the needs of their communities.
Here are the steps to becoming a licensed physician in the state of
Earn a bachelor’s degree
The beginning of a physician’s educational journey: completing a
four-year undergraduate program.
Pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) exam
To help determine an applicant’s preparedness for medical school, the
MCAT tests knowledge in general chemistry, organic chemistry, general
biology, biochemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology, as well as
critical analysis and reasoning skills.
Complete medical school
Totaling four years, medical school consists of a mixture of classroom
and lab time in basic sciences, such as anatomy, pathology,
pharmacology, and more coupled with the unique experience of clinical
practice at hospitals and clinics in the last two years.
Passage of the first two parts of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination
(USMLE), which tests medical knowledge and expertise on diagnoses and
diseases is also required.
Washington state is home to three medical schools: University of
Washington School of Medicine, Washington State University’s Elson S.
Floyd College of Medicine, and Pacific Northwest University of Health
Accumulate significant debt
The average medical school debt for the graduating class of 2019 was
$201,490, according to the most recent data from the Association of
American Medical Colleges.
Depending on medical specialty, residency programs take 3-7 years to
complete, resulting in a physician spending 12,000-16,000 hours of
hands-on patient care.
Pass part 3 of the USMLE exam
The final part of the USMLE focuses on the ability to efficiently
practice medicine and prioritize patient care.
Apply for Washington state licensure
The Washington Medical Commission, which regulates physicians in the
state, lists a series of requirements in order to obtain a license to
Many physicians stay to practice in the communities they’ve trained in.