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How to Become a Medical Director

How to Become a Medical Director

A medical director is a trained physician who oversees the operations of a healthcare facility. Directors coordinate teams of nurses, physicians, and non-medical staff to ensure that clients are receiving effective care. A medical directory also oversees patient care and is responsible for ensuring that all medical staff are following the facility’s protocols. If you would like to know how to become a medical director at an addiction treatment center and change the lives of people in your community, keep reading!

How Do You Become a Medical Director?

A medical director’s job does not involve clinical care or direct patient care. Rather, directors are designed to ensure the facility is meeting or exceeding company goals and standards. As the director of a rehab center, you will be responsible for developing, approving, and updating policies and procedures. You will also set and supervise protocols and policies related to emergencies, natural disasters, and pandemics.

If you are interested in taking the next step in your career and are passionate about helping people overcome substance abuse, below is a guide on how to become a medical director that can get you started.


Education Requirements

Medical directors must be licensed doctors – meaning they must earn a medical degree. A medical degree requires approximately eight years of postsecondary education. First, you would complete a relevant bachelor’s degree, such as a premedical track science program. Then, you would attend medical school to learn the foundations necessary for practicing and gaining hands-on clinical training. Once you finish your time in medical school, you can receive a Medical Doctorate (MD) or become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).

Once you have completed your education, you must then complete internship and residency programs. Your internship allows you to gain practical experience and training and provide care within your specialization. You spend at least three years working in your residency alongside other members of a healthcare team to diagnose and treat patients. While in residency, you may also shadow the facility’s medical director to gain advice and guidance. After completing your internships and residency, you can consider other internships that offer more advanced training.


Certification and Licensing

In addition to education, medical directors usually need a board certification in family medicine, emergency care, or occupational health. As a medical doctor, you may also be required to earn a board certification that demonstrates your experience and knowledge in the field. The American Board of Medical Specialties offers specialty certifications, and to earn these certifications, you are often required to have a certain number of years in the practice under your belt.

All medical directors are also required to have a valid medical license or a permit to work in a medical setting. The license must be valid according to the state where you are practicing. The certification and licensing process usually take place during your residency.

Additionally, to get your medical license, you must take certification exams. Then, you must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Once you complete this, then you can apply for a license to practice medicine in the state you live in.



It is also recommended that medical directors need to work as licensed doctors before they are qualified as medical doctors. Many employers will also prefer medical director candidates to have at least 10 years of experience in the field. So how long does it take to become a medical director? Considering education, training, and certification, it can take up to 20 years to become a medical director.


Day In the Life of a Medical Director

Most medical directors serve in this position while working as a doctor in other facilities. However, they must be available regardless of the day or time and are usually on-call. Medical directors work in an office and may attend meetings and sometimes even go to the floor and assist other practitioners. 


Being a medical director and managing a medical setting comes with considerable responsibility. A typical day in the life of a medical director includes:

  • Assisting with training, continuing education, and promotion of staff
  • Coordinating with medical and non-medical departments and creating relationships with vendors
  • Developing cooperation and healthy work relationships between physicians, paramedics, nurses, and medical departments
  • Ensuring staff and facility’s compliance with federal and state regulations and codes
  • Evaluating and managing any dysfunction of medical units
  • Examining and coordinating the facility's activities to ensure medical quality
  • Keeping your medical knowledge, experience, and licenses up to date
  • Managing the facility's budget
  • Recruiting and managing physicians, nurses, paramedics, and other staff
  • Updating, amending, and replacing medical policies with the advice of the medical board


Facilities normally search for a dedicated medical director to ensure their operations and treatment programs, residential treatment, and medically monitored detox run as efficiently and safely as possible. The medical director works to improve the facility’s overall quality of care and work to enhance relationships with vendors and staff.

If you or someone you know is interested in working in the addiction treatment field, our rehab in Texas may offer the position you are looking for. Check out our rehab jobs in Waelder here to apply.

On the other hand, if you or a loved one needs help recovering from addiction, we are here for you. Call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 to learn about our Texas drug and alcohol treatment.


Related Reading:

How to Become an Addiction Psychiatrist

How to Become a Drug Abuse Counselor

Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.