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From Grayling, Michigan, USA:

I am currently studying industrial engineering at a private university, I am engaged to someone with type 1 diabetes, and since we met I have become very interested in the care and treatment. I am thinking about going into medicine and becoming an endocrinologist. I'd like to help, and because I live with diabetes, I really think I could relate to families dealing with this.

Is my current degree going to be useless or can I attend medical school? What kind of schooling do you take to specialize in diabetes care? I want to help with this more passionately than I have ever been about anything. The universities have not been helpful with my questions, and I don't know where else to turn to.


I may be able to give you some guidance. If you were to attend medical school in the United States, the usual amount of time to earn the MD degree in most schools is four years. If your goal is to be a pediatric endocrinologist, the usual path would then take you to a residency in pediatrics, which is typically three years (a fourth year would include being the Chief Resident in many training programs).

Then you must apply for and be accepted into an accredited Fellowship training program in pediatric endocrinology. The American Board of Pediatrics can provide you a list, and the list of various Fellowship programs for all pediatric subspecialties is usually published in the Journal of Pediatrics each Spring. Pediatric Endocrine Fellowship is typically a three year training but some centers have only two years. So, that means 10 years after you get into medical school! Still want to be a pediatric endocrinologist?

As for your current studies in industrial engineering, I don't know why such degrees would be dissuasive to a medical school applicant committee. Call or write to some medical schools near and far from you and ask them for their current application requirements. Ask friends who are in medicine. Some schools emphasize applicants with science backgrounds, others emphasize applicants with stronger skills in the humanities. Others like "non-traditional" students (older, other degrees, etc.).

The common thread in a traditional four year medical school? Good grades and good MCAT scores in order to be asked to interview for the coveted positions. There are some "non-traditional" medical schools (six year programs, MD/PhD programs.) Call the AMA and inquire about them.


Original posting 12 Aug 2002
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:36
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