Medical Doctor: Job Description & Career Info

Medical doctors require significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Medical doctors examine, diagnose and treat patients. They can specialize in a number of medical areas, such as pediatrics, anesthesiology or cardiology, or they can work as general practice physicians. Becoming a medical doctor requires earning a doctoral degree in medicine and participating in clinical rotations. It's also common for medical school graduates to enroll in a residency program to study a specialty. Medical doctors need state licensure, and certification may also be required for some specialists.

Required Education Medical doctor degree; residency program
Other Requirements State licensure; specialty certification
Projected Job Growth18% for all physicians and surgeons from 2012-2022*
Average Salary (2013) $183,940 for family and general practice doctors; $235,070 for anesthesiologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

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.

Workplace

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.

Job Options

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.

Career Information

From 2012 to 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected job opportunities for physicians and surgeons to increase by 18%, much faster than that of most other occupations, as existing doctors retire and a growing population demands more medical services. Low-income and rural areas were 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.

Salary Information

Income for medical doctors varies significantly based on their amount of experience and area of specialty. For example, the BLS reported, as of May 2013, family and general practice doctors earned an average annual salary of $183,940; meanwhile, anesthesiologists averaged $235,070 per year.

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 21 years of age or older and have completed some college or 24 years of age or older and a high school graduate for a Bachelor's degree
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or higher
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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Medical Residency Programs
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  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Residency Programs
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  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
        • Medicine - MD
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
        • Medicine - MD
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
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  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics