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The Doctor by Luke Fildes (detail)[1]
NamesPhysician, medical practitioner, medical doctor or simply doctor
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Medicine, health care
QualitiesThe ethics, art and science of medicine, analytical skills, critical thinking, Lifestyle and Food science
Education required
MBBS, MD, MDCM, or DO, Template:Doctor of Indian medicine
Fields of
Clinics, hospitals
Related jobs
General practitioner
Family physician
Specialist physician

A physician or medical doctor is a person who uses medicine to treat illness and injuries to improve a patient's health.

In most countries, the basic medical degree qualifies a person to treat patients and prescribe appropriate treatment, including drugs. A physician may also do the simplest kinds of surgery.

Training and qualifications[change | change source]

Doctors are trained in medical schools which are usually part of a university. They hold a degree awarded by a medical school. Doctors work in hospitals, medical clinics, from their own offices, or may even visit people in their homes. They may also work for schools, companies, sports teams, or the military. Medical doctors are often assisted in their work by nurses.

The basic degree is awarded on the successful completion of medical school education and practice. It is given different names in different countries. It is M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) in the USA, Scotland and some other countries. In England, different universities use different terms. The University of London qualification is M.B. Ch.B. (that is, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery). Most countries have higher qualifications, based on experience, supervised work, more exams, and theses. Because of its history, in England a general practitioner eventually becomes an MRCP (member of the Royal College of Physicians), but a surgeon works towards becoming an MRCS (Member of the Royal College of Surgeons). A similar system is used in Edinburgh, Ireland and Canada.

What they do[change | change source]

Medical doctors treat patients by finding out what is wrong with them, known as a diagnosis. They ask questions about the patient's symptoms. These might include fever or pain. They may ask about past illnesses or family members who have been sick. They will then examine the patient. They look at different parts of the body, listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Sometimes they may need to collect a sample of blood, use an x-ray machine, or use other tools. When they have gathered enough information, a doctor can make a diagnosis and then plan a treatment. Often they prescribe drugs.

Specialists[change | change source]

Some physicians only work on certain diseases or injuries, or may only work on one part of the human body. These doctors are called specialists. For example, there are doctors who specialize in diseases of the stomach or intestines. Other medical doctors are "general practitioners" or "family practitioners". This means that they do a little bit of everything. The general practitioner the first doctor a patient will see, and this doctor may decide to send them to a specialist doctor if needed.

Some types of specialists are:

Pay[change | change source]

A qualified doctor has many opportunities to work in different countries, though they may need to pass more examinations. Many places rely on immigrants to keep their health services going. In 2023 the highest pay for doctors was in Luxembourg, where specialists could earn $352,300 and GPs $278,900 a year. [2]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. In 1949, Fildes' painting The Doctor was used by the American Medical Association in a campaign against a proposal for nationalized medical care put forth by President Harry S. Truman. The image was used in posters and brochures along with the slogan, "Keep Politics Out of this Picture" implying that involvement of the government in medical care would negatively affect the quality of care. 65,000 Posters of The Doctor were displayed, which helped to raise public skepticism for the nationalized healthcare campaign.
  2. Mortensen, Rebecca (2020-05-19). "10 highest paying countries for doctors". Medic Footprints. Retrieved 2023-07-24.