Doctors play a pivotal role in human health. They’re on the front lines of diagnosing and treating medical conditions, both physical and psychological. They’re often among the first people we turn to when we’re feeling ill, seeking out their expertise for treatment options and potential cures.
Being a doctor can be incredibly rewarding. Not only can it be a meaningful and important job, it can also provide a lot of flexibility and variety. From pediatrics to neurology to cardiology, there are many different medical specialties that doctors can choose from depending on what they’re interested in and comfortable with.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a doctor and what it takes to become one yourself.
Doctor Job Duties
Depending on their specialty, doctors duties vary, but typically includes the following:
- Performing physical exams and diagnostic tests to identify medical problems and track patient recovery
- Recommending treatment options, medications, or procedures to help patients recover from illness or injury
- Diagnosing diseases, infections, or other conditions based on patients’ symptoms and medical histories
- Educating patients about their illnesses or injuries, including the risks involved with certain treatments and medications
- Managing patient cases to ensure compliance with treatment plans
- Communicating with other health care providers, such as therapists or specialists regarding patient care
- Conducting research to develop new methods of treatment or study diseases that are not well understood by the medical community
- Treating acute illnesses such as the flu, chronic illnesses like diabetes, and life-threatening conditions like cancer
Doctor Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for doctors is $191,000. The highest earners make over $400,000 per year. Those earning higher wages tend to work in hospitals.
The number of doctors in the United States is expected to decline over the next decade. This is due to new technology allowing more patients to diagnose and treat themselves.
Doctor Job Requirements
The requirements for doctors are as follows:
Education: Doctors must complete a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree from an accredited medical school.
The medical degree is a four-year program that includes classroom and clinical training. During the classroom training portion of the program, students learn about anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology and other topics related to the human body. They also take courses in areas like ethics, medical law and the history of medicine. The clinical training portion of the program allows students to practice their skills in a real-world setting.
Training: After obtaining an MD or DO, physicians must complete a residency in their specialty. These programs are required by the state medical board and can take three to seven years. During this time, physicians are under the supervision of a respected doctor in the field and gain hands-on experience in their specialty.
Certifications: There are a variety of specialized certifications that doctors can pursue. In order to obtain these certifications, doctors must have met certain levels of education and training in their field. The most common certification available is the American Board of Internal Medicine certification. This certification indicates a doctor has mastered the fundamentals of internal medicine and received comprehensive training in general care.
The following skills are required for this job:
Critical thinking: Doctors must be capable of thinking critically in order to make correct diagnoses and develop effective treatment plans for their patients.
Communication skills: Doctors must be able to communicate effectively with their patients, nurses, and other medical staff.
Organizational skills: Doctors must be well organized and able to prioritize tasks and busy schedules. They may need to adjust their schedules or plans in order to see all of their patients on time. They will often need to maintain complex records and documents.
Teamwork skills: Doctors work closely with other medical professionals such as nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. They also work with pharmacists, lab technicians, and medical assistants. Teamwork is essential in order to provide the best care possible to their patients.
Leadership skills: Doctors often supervise nurses, residents, medical students, and other health care workers. It’s important for them to be effective at motivating others and inspiring confidence.
Patience: Being a doctor requires a high degree of patience because you will be dealing with different people throughout your workday. You may need to deal with very sick or injured patients who might not always respond well to your suggestions or orders.
Doctor Work Environment
Doctors can be found just about everywhere – from hospitals and medical clinics to private offices and even their own homes.
They spend most of their time in their office examining patients, reviewing test results, conducting research, and seeing patients in groups or individually. The work environment is usually comfortable, but it may be stressful when doctors are asked to treat urgent cases or operate on critically ill patients.
Doctor Career Advancement
Doctors often advance to become leaders in their field, assuming the title of chief of staff or chief of surgery. Some doctors also become medical educators and educate the next generation of doctors.
If you are looking for leadership opportunities, you might consider becoming a medical director. This role requires leadership, management, and communication skills. You will need to supervise the medical staff, develop budgets, and oversee the operation of the department.
Here are three trends influencing how doctors work. Doctors will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Advances in Telemedicine
Telemedicine, which is the use of telecommunication technologies to provide medical services, has been a major trend in the healthcare industry for some time now. Advances in technology have made it possible for people to receive high-quality healthcare from providers anywhere in the world via real-time video calls and other communication platforms.
In addition, more providers are offering consultative services as opposed to on-site care, which means that many patients will not even need to visit a doctor’s office or hospital.
Increased Focus on Mental Health
Due to increasing interest in mental health issues, doctors will have to be able to deal with a wide range of different mental health challenges from clinical depression and anxiety disorders to issues related to substance abuse.
In addition, due to the growing popularity of medication-free treatments, physicians will need a strong understanding of the effectiveness of various holistic treatments for a variety of conditions.
Health and Wellness
The increased emphasis on health and wellness is driving interest in doctors who can work with patients to create a healthier lifestyle.
There are several ways in which a doctor can be a positive influence on a patient’s life, from suggesting healthy recipes and exercise plans to implementing these plans in their own lives.
How to Become a Doctor
1. Planning Your Career Path
Becoming a doctor is a challenging career path, but the rewards are well worth it. The medical field has many different specialties, so take some time to consider which one is right for you. You should consider how much time and money you are willing to invest in your education. Most doctors complete a bachelor’s degree and spend several years studying getting advanced degrees specializing in medicine. Because doctors are held to high ethical standards, you may need to spend extra time learning about the code of conduct before pursuing this profession.
Compassion and empathy are essential qualities for this job. Doctors are responsible for treating and working closely with patients. If you feel comfortable caring for others and helping them overcome their illnesses or injuries, then becoming a doctor could be the right career choice for you.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for doctors should focus on their personal qualities and medical skills. Employers will want to see evidence of your ability to communicate effectively, prioritize tasks, and work efficiently. The best resumes will also emphasize a desire to provide compassionate care to patients.
In your descriptions of previous positions, highlight the responsibilities you had and how you handled them. Consider including details such as any additional certifications or specializations that you have obtained.
3. Applying for Jobs
Building a positive reputation in the medical community can help you land a job. Focus on getting involved with organizations that support healthcare providers, such as the American Medical Association or a local hospital’s fundraising committee. If you’re not yet licensed, join pre-med student organizations or intern with hospitals, physicians, and surgeons during the summer. These efforts will help you gain valuable experience, build connections, and showcase your passion for helping people. The more active you are within the medical community, the better chance you have of landing a position.
4. Ace the Interview
In a doctor interview, the interviewer will likely ask you to describe your experience with a particular medical procedure. You can prepare for this information by thinking of examples from your past clinical experiences. Focus on the successes and failures you’ve had, and how you have grown as a medical professional as a result.
A doctor interview may also include a patient-based component in which you address situations that may arise in your future practice. Be prepared to present your response in an organized manner that includes an assessment of the situation, an action plan based on your knowledge of the situation, and steps for follow-up.