Medical doctors usually begin their education by completing 4 years
of college and receiving a bachelor's degree (baccalaureate) at an accredited
college or university. They then attend 4 or more years of medical school.
During medical school, students take classes in the cause, treatment, and
prevention of diseases. Medical students learn how to assess a patient for a
disease, plan and implement treatment, and evaluate the outcome of their
intervention. After completing medical school, students earn the degree of
medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO).
Most medical doctors then complete at least 3 years of a specialty
training program (residency), which allows them to gain further experience in a
specialty area under the supervision of doctors already experienced in that
specialty. Following their residency, medical doctors may begin their own
medical practice or continue their training in a subspecialty.
When Nancy Levitt's mother was first diagnosed with dementia 14 years ago at age 78, the doctor told her she could safely drive to familiar places. But Levitt, 61, who volunteers at UCLA's Center on Aging in Los Angeles, was still nervous. Unexplained nicks and dents started appearing on her mother's car. She forgot where she parked. Levitt tried to discuss driving safety with her mother, but she angrily denied there was a problem. Then, she would forget their talks about driving altogether.