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How to Become a Rheumatologist

Kundan Pandey
What do you think it requires in an individual to treat and provide relief to patients suffering from probably the most painful medical condition, arthritis, complex auto-immune disorders and severe accompanying bone diseases like osteoporosis?
Certainly, it requires skill, knowledge and years of experience to be able to understand these extremely complex diseases.
Doctors who treat the aforementioned diseases are crowned as M.Ds or D.Os in rheumatology after the end of their education and are commonly called rheumatologists.
Typical rheumatologist job description includes diagnosis and treatment of rhematological disorders affecting the musculoskeletal structures in general. These include chronic medical conditions of muscle and joints that have been caused due to poor functioning of the immune system.

Becoming a Rheumatologist

The fact that rheumatologists have the ability to treat more than 100 types of arthritis highlights the expertise and knowledge these medical professionals command. The journey to become a professional rheumatologist is a long and tiring one.
Individuals with total dedication and unflinching faith in their career interest can only pursue this field. Nearly 13 - 14 years of dedicated education and internship experience qualifies an individual to become a rheumatologist.
High School: It is the foundation stone of further education and hence, it matters a lot. Aim to maximize your knowledge in several science subjects especially biology, chemistry and human anatomy. Also develop your reading and writing habits, as that will be very helpful in your future years of higher education.
Undergraduate Studies: Obtain an undergraduate degree in subjects related to medicine, biology, human anatomy and general sciences. These four years of college education must be dedicated to bring out the best within you, as the knowledge amassed in these years will be crucial in giving you a competitive edge during your medical schooling years.
Medical Education: During your final years of undergraduate degree, start mobilizing your efforts for cracking MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). You must take lots of preparatory test materials for MCAT from your senior friends while you are in college so that you can score high in the test.
There are many online preparatory course materials for MCAT exams that you can purchase after discussing some good options with your teachers. Your performance in MCAT will help you to gain entry in some of the most reputed medical institutions in the country, giving you a platform for brighter future.
Depending on your MCAT score and past academic records, you will be awarded a medical school. Counseling before admission will help you to apply for schools where chances of your admission will be higher. During your four years of stay at the medical school, you will be exposed to theoretical and practical aspects of rheumatology.
Residency Program: During the three years residency program recommended by your medical school, you have to choose either internal medicine or pediatrics. Rheumatalogy is actually a subset of these two specializations and so you have to choose one of them.
Fellowship Program: After completion of residency program, one can work towards gaining fellowship in rheumatalogy. During these two-four years of study, you will be trained extremely well in some unique and special techniques of treating patients.
Certifications: Once the formal education and internship is over, it becomes essential to seek certifications from The American Board of Internal Medicine in rheumatology and internal medicine. The board exam for obtaining certification is very difficult and you have to give in your best to pass it.
State License: After being certified by the Board, rheumatolgists can apply for mandatory state licenses for the state in which they wish to practice their profession.
Besides the immense job satisfaction derived from helping ailing patients, rheumatologists enjoy the best compensation in the medical industry. Years of education pays in the end and the salary can range anywhere between US$$120,000 to $200,000 per year approximately.
Now that you are aware of the simple path to be a rheumatologist, it is time for you to start preparing from the scratch and obtain success. If you are just in your high school, you must talk to your parents and school teachers about your aim. They will help you to eliminate any hesitations you have. Moreover, your parents will also work to arrange finances so that after few years, they have sufficient budget to fund for your education.