By Dr Jim Silcox
While a Medical Degree is the obvious gateway to the practice of medicine, you may not know that it alone does not entitle you to “hang out your shingle.” In order to practice in Canada, you must also be licensed by your provincial licensing authority. Licencing authorities require that you pass a national two-part exam called the LMCC and also that you successfully complete post-graduate studies in the discipline of your choice. To complete those post-grad studies takes two years for Family Medicine or up to five or six years for other specialties. So, having an MD and being called “doctor” does not mean that you can function as one.
Not For You?
Some students are well along in their Medical Degree program before they realize that practising medicine is not for them. All is not lost! Many have chosen to make their MD the equivalent of a “springboard” academic degree that they combine with another degree. This will make them a highly qualified professional in an area that is related to Medicine but does not entail actually taking care of patients. Some become MD-journalists, MD-lawyers, MD-business administrators, MD librarians or MD politicians. And there are many other combinations that I have not mentioned.
There is significant market demand for these special niche people in Medicine and they draw good salaries as a rule. One doc that I know functions full time as an advisor to the film industry. How’s that for an interesting career! This is not to imply that this contingent is a large segment of any given graduating class; it is an option to think about.
Finally, Medicine is a science. It always needs new investigators who understand the clinical aspects and needs of the discipline. But also who devote themselves to making new discoveries that will be used by the discipline. A huge number of MDs do not ever practice but, armed with their knowledge of the practical aspects of the discipline, they are able to come up with scientific discoveries that prove invaluable. They have an “insiders” point of view of their science, so to speak. Other physicians practice Medicine but also do clinical research and teach. You will find these types “hanging out” at universities where there are medical schools.