It takes about 10,000 hours of practice and study to become an expert in a subject. While graduate school typically lasts two years, medical school takes four and a half years to complete. Why does it take so long to earn an MD? Besides extensive lectures and clinical rotations, medical school curriculum prepares you to become a physician, which requires a great deal of study and hands-on practice.

Studies have found that students need research and hands-on clinical experience to succeed as physicians. Simply put: the materials and knowledge needed to succeed in any medical career cannot be limited to less than four years. Less than that and you’ll be woefully unprepared.

At American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine, the MD program is four years long, just like U.S. medical schools. The first two years are located in Antigua and include the pre-clinical, classroom portion of a standard medical curriculum. After that, 18 weeks are spent transitioning into the Clinical Sciences component, which prepares students for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

After passing the USMLE, students complete 75 weeks of clinical rotations at hospitals in the U.S., Canada, and India. Although each clinical rotation only lasts a few weeks, the time spent during Clinical Sciences is the most crucial to your medical career. The more time spent with different  rotations, the more students can adjust to the latest technological advances in medicine. Students need hands-on experience since the skills they learn during these rotations can’t be taught in a classroom.

Every four to eight weeks, students enter different specialties: emergency medicine, surgery, obstetrics-gynecology, psychiatry, neurology, family medicine, and more. Each rotation provides students with knowledge about the situations they will face as physicians. The more experience they gain, the more prepared they are for what their daily lives will be like after they graduate.

When students complete their clinical rotations, they are eligible for graduation. At this point, they will have a comprehensive medical education under their belt. Medical school will give you those 10,000 hours and then some.

How long do you think medical school should last? If you’re a student, what has your experience been like?