Career Development

What Does a Physician Do?

Find out what a physician does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a physician.

Physicians are medical professionals who practice in a wide range of specialties. They’re trained to diagnose and treat disease, injury, and other health conditions.

Physicians may be general practitioners or specialists in one of many different fields, including internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, psychiatry, surgery, etc. Regardless of their specialty, all physicians must complete extensive training before they can begin practicing independently.

Physician Job Duties

Physicians have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Prescribing medications and ordering lab tests to diagnose illnesses and monitor patient health
  • Providing medical treatment such as surgical procedures and prescription medications to patients with chronic or acute illnesses
  • Performing examinations such as physical exams and lab tests to diagnose illnesses and assess patient health
  • Communicating with other physicians, nurses, and staff members to coordinate patient care
  • Counseling patients about lifestyle changes they can make to improve their health
  • Prescribing medications to patients based on their diagnosis
  • Operating in an environment that requires them to wear personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns, and gloves to prevent infection among patients
  • Performing surgery and other procedures to treat injuries or illnesses
  • Diagnosing conditions and prescribing medications based on their knowledge of medicine, physiology, anatomy, and pharmacology

Physician Salary & Outlook

Salaries for physicians vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of practice they have.

  • Median Annual Salary: $220,000 ($105.77/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $495,000 ($237.98/hour)

The employment of physicians is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

The demand for physician services will largely depend on the health care needs of the population. As the large baby-boom generation ages and people live longer, medical problems are more likely to be diagnosed. In addition, technological advances in imaging and other areas are allowing physicians to more easily diagnose medical conditions.

Related: In-Depth Physician Salary Guide

Physician Job Requirements

A career as a physician typically requires the following:

Education: All physicians must complete a medical degree program. Medical degree programs are typically four years in length and include coursework in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, pathology, medical ethics and medical law.

After completing medical school, students must complete a residency program. Residency programs are typically three years in length and include supervised clinical practice and classroom instruction.

Training & Experience: After completing medical school, a physician will need to complete a residency program. A residency program is a period of supervised clinical practice that takes place after medical school. A residency program will last between three and seven years, depending on the specialty.

After completing a residency program, a physician will need to complete a fellowship program. A fellowship program is a period of supervised clinical practice that takes place after a residency program. A fellowship program will last between one and three years, depending on the specialty.

Certifications & Licenses: Every physician must hold a state license, with requirements varying by state. All states require physicians to graduate from an accredited medical school, finish residency training in the specialty they plan to practice and pass practical and written exams. Additionally, a physician must pass a national standardized license exam. A medical doctor (M.D.) must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), while a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) must pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).

Physician Skills

Physicians need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Physicians communicate with patients, other medical professionals and patients’ families on a daily basis. They need to be able to explain medical conditions and treatment plans in a way that is easy to understand. They also need to be able to listen to their patients and answer their questions.

Critical thinking: Physicians use critical thinking skills to make informed decisions about patient care. They may need to consider a variety of factors, including patient health, patient preferences and the best treatment options. Physicians may also use critical thinking skills to identify and address health issues before they become more serious.

Time management: Physicians often have many patients to see in a short period of time. This means they need to prioritize their tasks and manage their time well. They may also need to manage their time during procedures, surgeries and other medical treatments.

Organization: Physicians often have many tasks to complete in a short period of time. It’s important for them to be able to prioritize their tasks and manage their time effectively. This can help them to be more efficient and complete their work on time.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Physicians often use empathy to help their patients feel comfortable and confident about their treatment plans. Physicians can also use empathy to help their patients understand their diagnosis and prognosis.

Physician Work Environment

Physicians work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private offices, and research laboratories. They usually work long hours, and their work can be physically and emotionally demanding. Many physicians also have administrative duties, such as supervising other medical personnel, managing their own practices, or teaching. In addition, physicians must keep up to date with the latest medical advances and developments by reading medical journals, attending conferences, and taking continuing medical education courses.

Physician Trends

Here are three trends influencing how physicians work. Physicians will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Telemedicine

The growth of telemedicine is a trend that is quickly changing the healthcare industry. With the rise of smartphones and other mobile devices, patients are now able to access medical care from the comfort of their own home.

This trend is having a major impact on the field of medicine, as it is allowing physicians to provide care to patients who would otherwise not be able to access it. It is also allowing patients to get care faster, which can be life-saving in some cases.

As the use of telemedicine continues to grow, physicians will need to learn how to utilize these technologies in order to provide the best possible care for their patients. They will also need to be comfortable with using technology to communicate with patients and collaborate with other healthcare professionals.

Patient Engagement Will Be More Important Than Ever

As patient engagement becomes more important in the medical field, physicians will need to develop skills in communication and relationship building.

In order to be successful in today’s world, physicians will need to be able to connect with patients on a personal level and build trust. This will allow them to better understand the needs of their patients and help them make informed decisions about their health.

How to Become a Physician

Physician -> There are many different paths you can take to become a physician. You could attend medical school, or you could pursue a degree in another field and then go on to specialize in medicine. No matter which path you choose, it’s important to be prepared for the long hours and hard work that come with being a doctor.

Related: How to Write a Physician Resume

Advancement Prospects

Physicians advance in their careers by taking on more responsibility, either by assuming greater clinical responsibilities, by assuming administrative roles, or both. As they advance, physicians typically move from working in small private practices to working in larger group practices, hospitals, or clinics.

Physicians who want to assume greater clinical responsibilities may become specialists. To do so, they must complete a residency program in their chosen specialty and pass a specialty board examination. Physicians who want to assume administrative roles may become hospital administrators or medical directors of clinics or group practices. They may also become involved in medical research or teaching.

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