Doctors also go by the name physicians, and they can either be medical doctors (M.D.) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.).
Doctors can be primary care physicians or may specialize in a particular area of medicine like internal medicine, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, neurology, pediatrics geriatrics, psychiatry, endocrinology, ophthalmology, or anesthesiology.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Doctor
Even though doctors specific responsibilities differ by specialty, all doctors are required to be able to perform the following duties;
- Diagnose conditions
- Assess symptoms
- Prescribe as well as administer treatment
- Offer follow-up care of patients, refer them to other providers as well as interpret their laboratory results.
- Work with physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and other health professionals.
- Prescribe medication
- Remain updated on current medical technology and research.
Doctors are responsible for their patients well being, thus their occupation is more demanding than most. Apart from having a comprehensive knowledge of medicine, doctors need to be able to communicate their findings to patients who typically do not possess the same knowledge.
They work with people when they are at their most vulnerable state and need to have empathy as well as the required technical knowledge.
Apart from the foundational duties and responsibilities required of all doctors, doctors are expected to have a specialty in the field needed from them to be able to perform tasks specific to those jobs.
Physicians’ and surgeons earnings vary by specialty.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 the Median Annual Salary is $208,000.
Education, Training, & Certification
Prospective doctors must be accepted to an accredited medical school which typically requires completing an undergraduate pre-med program. This includes taking significant coursework in biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and general science.
The medical school runs a four-year program. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accredits medical school programs that offer an M.D. degree. For Osteopathic medical school programs (those that confer a D.O. degree) get accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA).
After medical school, doctors-in-training need to do a residency program that typically lasts anywhere from three to seven years, based on specialty. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) accredit residency programs for M.D.s and D.O.s.
Along with the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) in July 2015 these organizations began moving toward a single accreditation system. The transition is expected to be completed in July 2020.
Doctors require a license from a state medical or osteopathic board to practice in the U.S. Requirements differ by state and can be found at the Federation of State Medical Boards website. Even though requirements vary, all M.D.s must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and D.O.s must pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).
A doctor with a family practice in a small community may have a relatively laid-back operation involving a small staff. In another scenario, doctors working in an emergency room in an urban setting might be faced with extreme cases and high stress on a regular basis. Many doctors choose to specialize in a particular area which often necessitates the type of environment in which they work and the amount of stress they face.
Even though doctors’ schedules are demanding, how challenging these schedules are depended largely on their type of work. Surgeons are frequently on call and often perform procedures that go well past the eight hours stipulated for a typical workday, while pediatricians or family practitioners, on the other hand, may be able to keep more regular business hours.