Doctor Career Information
Doctors must have excellent interpersonal skills to deal with patients.
- 1 [Doctor] | What Classes Do I Need to Take to Become a Doctor?
- 2 [Importance] | Importance of Doctors in Society
- 3 [Advantages] | The Advantages of Becoming a Doctor
- 4 [Paid Doctor] | What Is the Most Paid Doctor?
Doctors receive the highest salaries in the country as of May 2011, states the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, because they can hold the power of life and death over individuals and because their profession also deals with significant challenges, beginning with a training period that is longer and more expensive than for any other occupation.
Doctors diagnose and treat illness and injury. They take a patient’s medical history, examine areas of the body that feel unhealthy or painful, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and plan and implement courses of treatment. They often counsel patients on diet, hygiene and lifestyle changes that can improve well-being. They may set up their own practices or work for medical corporations, such as hospitals. In either case, they fulfill their duties by relying on the services of other health professionals, such as nurses and diagnostic technicians, and administrative staff, such as health service managers or medical coders.
Because the practice of medicine is complex, many doctors specialize in particular medical conditions or areas of the body. Family and general practitioners handle a range of general medical conditions and refer complicated cases to specialists. Surgeons treat injuries, disease and deformities through operations. Anesthesiologists help surgeons by managing patient pain during procedures. Obstetricians and gynecologists focus on women’s conditions, such as pregnancy and childbirth. Pediatricians specialize in children. And general internists diagnose and treat problems that affect the internal organs, such as the kidneys or digestive tract.
Doctors begin their training with a bachelor’s degree that requires four years of study. Though specific degrees are not mandated, necessary subjects include biology, chemistry, physics, math and English. Undergraduates must then receive acceptable scores on the Medical College Admission Test before they are considered for medical school. This advanced education takes at least four years and includes classroom, laboratory and practical learning. The expense of the process left at least 85 percent of medical school grads in debt for educational expenses. After medical school, graduates are required to undergo a residency program in a hospital that lasts from three to eight years, depending on the specialty. Finally, all states require physicians to have a license, which mandates education and passing written and practical exams; a further credential is supplied when a specialist becomes board-certified.
Average annual salaries for doctors vary by specialty. As of 2011, annual salaries were $234,950 for anesthesiologists, $177,330 for family and general practitioners, $218,610 for obstetricians and gynecologists, $189,210 for internists, $168,650 for pediatricians and $231,550 for surgeons. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job opportunities for physicians will increase by 24 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is much faster than the 14 percent predicted for all professions in all industries. Demand will be fueled by the expansion of health-care industries because of a growing and aging population. Job prospects will be best for those willing to practice in rural and low-income areas, which have traditionally had difficulty in attracting medical professionals.
About the Author
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.