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Allopathic medical schools award the M.D. degree after four years of study. The first two years typically consists of foundational science courses and their application to the study of medicine. The final two years are more patient-focused and the student is exposed to a variety of specialties within the medical field.
Following graduation, students undergo more advanced, specialized training in a field of their choice, typically between 3-8 years. This training varies with each specialty and is organized into 24 areas or specialty boards. Students who successfully complete this training and pass their board examinations (steps 1, 2 and 3 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination) are able to diagnose and treat patients using a variety of tools at their disposal. This can be done in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals and clinics, managed care organizations, private or group practices. They may also work in other settings, including nursing homes, businesses, education institutions, research facilities and public health agencies.