Physicians are practitioners of medicine, devoting many years to learning the art and science of their profession.  With new technologies, equipment, techniques, and medicines the physicians’ entire career is spent learning.  There are many areas of interest physicians can specialize in ranging from orthopedic medicine and oncology to general practitioners.  In general, physicians perform examinations of patients, diagnose illnesses, and treat injuries and diseases.  Depending on the area of interest, some physicians perform more surgeries than others.


Perhaps you are wondering what courses would best prepare you for medical school.  Basic sciences are very important so be sure to include biology, chemistry and physics; math, computer science and statistics; English (so that you can communicate well both in speech and writing); social studies, behavioral science, and history.  In fact, any course that will help you to understand people better, whether individually or in groups, will be helpful.

Medicine as a career offers many choices.  There are openings to match the diverse interests and ambitions of all students who are motivated to develop disciplined study skills and the qualities needed to become a successful physician.  This development needs to start while you are still in high school.  Be sure the college you choose carries the approval of the regional accrediting agency.  It should offer courses ranging from those required for medical school to choices in liberal arts.  A pre-med advisory program and a consistent record of graduating students to medical schools are also important.    Competition for places in medical school is fierce and it is wise to consider alternative career choices.


You can choose from three medical schools in Louisiana.  Each requires applicants to have completed a bachelor’s degree and to submit Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores 12-18 months before admission date.  An interview is part of the selection process and reveals the personal character, maturity, attitudes, potential, and motivation of the student.  Much more is expected of a physician than just intellectual ability.

High school and college students are strongly encouraged to seek experience in the health care field, either in summer work or as a volunteer, before applying to medical school.  Perhaps your local hospital has such openings.  The LSU School of Medicine and Tulane Medical School offer summer enrichment programs and/or summer science programs for minority or disadvantaged students.  Contact the AHEC office in New Orleans at (504) 568-4620 or in Shreveport at (318) 686-2441 for further details.


In four years of medical school students are guided first through the basic sciences, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, microbiology and learning the structure of the human body and how it works.  The clinical sciences introduce the study of disease, how and why it occurs and how it may be managed.  Self-motivated learning is important not only in becoming a doctor, but in keeping up with new advances in medical diagnosis and care.  Medical students can look forward to a lifetime of learning!


Usually by the time of graduation with an M.D. degree the new physician has chosen a specialty for further study and qualification.  First, however, state licensure must be obtained through the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners if you choose to practice medicine in our state.

Listed below are medical specialties and subspecialties, each requiring knowledge and skill in the diagnosis and treatment of different types of disease:


ALLERGY & IMMUNOLOGY (causes & treatment of allergic diseases)
Clinical and Laboratory Immunology

ANESTHESIOLOGY (use of anesthetics)
Anesthesiology Critical Care Medicine, Pain Management

COLON & RECTAL SURGERY  (surgical treatment of diseases of the lower intestinal tract)

EMERGENCY MEDICINE  (treatment of the acutely ill & injured)
Sports Medicine

INTERNAL MEDICINE  (adult non-surgical general diseases)
Cardiovascular Disease, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Critical Care Medicine, Endocrinology,Diabetes, & Metabolism, Gastroenterology, Geriatrics Medicine, Hematology, Hematology & Oncology, Infectious Disease, Nephrology, Oncology, Pulmonary Disease, Pulmonary Disease & Critical Care Medicine, Rheumatology, Sports Medicine.

MEDICAL GENETICS (diagnosis and treatment of genetic linked diseases)

NEUROLOGICAL SURGERY (surgical treatment of diseases of the nervous system)
Pediatric Neurological Surgery

NEUROLOGY(treatment of diseases of the nervous system)
Child Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology

NUCLEAR MEDICINE  (use of radiation & radio-active isotopes in diagnosis & treatment)

OBSTETRICS & GYNECOLOGY (prenatal care, childbirth, & diseases in women)

OPTHALMOLOGY (diseases of the eye)

ORTHOPEDIC SURGERY (surgical treatment of bone & muscle diseases or injury)
Adult Reconstructive Orthopedics, Foot & Ankle Orthopedics, Hand Surgery, MusculoskeletalOncology, Orthopedics Sports Medicine, Orthopedics Surgery of the Spine, Orthopedic Trauma, Pediatric Orthopedics

OTOLARYNGOLOGY (diseases of the ears, nose, & throat)
Otology-Neurotology, Pediatric Otolaryngology

PATHOLOGY (study of diseases, their causes, development, & consequences)
Blood Banking/Transfusion Medicine, Chemical

PEDIATRICS (diseases in infants & children)
Adolescent Medicine, Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine,Pediatric Endocrinology, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Pediatric Nephrology, Pediatric Pulmonology, Pediatric Rheumatology, Pediatric Sports Medicine

PHYSICAL MEDICINE & REHABILITATION  (diseases requiring manipulation, massage, exercise, etc.)
Spinal Cord Injury

PLASTIC SURGERY (surgical remodeling, repair or restoration)

PREVENTIVE MEDICINE (warding off or hindering disease)

PSYCHIATRY & NEUROLOGY (mental disease & diseases of the nervous system)
Addiction Psychiatry, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry

RADIOLOGY (use of X-rays in diagnosis & treatment)
Musculoskeletal Radiology, Neuroradiology, Nuclear Radiology, Pediatric Radiology, Vascular & Interventional Radiology

RADIATION ONCOLOGY (use of ionizing radiation in the treatment of cancers)

SURGERY (general surgical treatment)
Surgical Critical Care, Hand Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Thoracic Surgery

UROLOGY & Pediatric Urology (diseases of the urinary & genital tract)


Certification in a specialty requires 3-7 years in an approved residency training program.  In addition, there are 50-60 sub-specialties, many of which require certification in internal medicine, surgery, or pediatrics before further training begins.


Association of American Medical Colleges
2450 North Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20037
(202) 828-0400

American Medical Association
515 N. State Street
Chicago, IL  60654
(800) 621- 8335