Medical Doctor: Job Description & Career Info
Becoming a medical doctor requires obtaining significant education and completing a medical residency over several years. Medical doctors can specialize in a number of medical areas, such as pediatrics or cardiology. Read on to learn more about this field.
Medical doctors (M.D.s) diagnose patient conditions using examinations and tests. Based on their findings, they prescribe treatment and medications to attempt to heal any illnesses or injuries. General practitioners and pediatricians have a wide range of medical knowledge and they are often the first types of doctors who patients visit. Most doctors routinely work in teams, with nurses and aides assisting them in well-lit work locations.
Doctors may work long and unpredictable hours dictated by the needs of their patients. Additionally, doctors may need to travel amongst various locations, such as offices, hospitals and clinics, in order to provide patient care. Doctors who practice in healthcare organizations or groups have less work independence but may obtain more time off as a result of patient coverage.
M.D.s are sometimes referred to as allopathic physicians. As needed, medical doctors might refer patients to specialists who focus on specific medical areas, such as anesthesiology, cardiology, psychology and internal medicine. Specialists are experts in their field and complete additional residency training, in addition to becoming board certified in their specialty.
From 2010 to 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected job opportunities for physicians and surgeons to increase by 24%, almost twice that of most other occupations, as existing doctors retire and a growing population demands more medical services. Low-income and rural areas are projected to have an especially high demand for doctors. Cardiologists and radiologists might find particularly strong career opportunities due to a rising elderly population and increase in the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Income for medical doctors varies significantly based on their amount of experience and area of specialty. For example, the BLS reported, as of May 2012, family and general practice doctors earned an average annual salary of $180,850; meanwhile, anesthesiologists averaged $232,830 per year.
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