The physicians are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients for a wide range of medical issues. When we talk about physicians, we mean general physicians that patients firstly call or visit when an illness or disorder affects them.
There are 2 types of general physicians:
- Doctor of Medicine – M.D. (most common type earned by doctors)
- Doctor of Osteopathy – D.O. (a doctor that specializes in muscular and skeletal systems in the body)
The general physicians mostly perform routine checkups and examinations for patients, but their duties cover so many more tasks. They also record patients’ medical histories, reports, and results. Often, they explain procedures for medical treatments and explain test results to the patients.
A general physician is a medical professional that monitors his patients’ conditions and provides effective treatments for their wellbeing. Sometimes, when the treatment is more serious, the physician can refer the patient to a more specialized practitioner in a specific medical field.
The physicians work indoors in an examination room in a hospital or a private clinic. They often work in a team with nurses and other medical assistants for ensuring the best treatment is provided for their patients.
The job of the physicians is quite challenging (both mentally and physically). They need to communicate with their patients effectively in order to extract the necessary info for a proper diagnosis – which requires significant brainpower. They also often need to operate with medical equipment – which requires a fair amount of physical strength.
However, being a physician in the USA is a great decision nowadays. Not only is it a great choice when it comes to choosing a career in health care, but it is also one of the top paid jobs in America. This career is probably one of the oldest professions on the market.
Unfortunately, there was a big misconception about physicians. It has been told over the years that being a physician is not well paid. Some people also believe that one day this career will no longer exist due to all the progress made in science.
However, after the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve witnessed that this couldn’t be further from the truth! Physicians now are needed more than ever, and the healthcare jobs are here to stay for a long time.
What Is The Average Salary For A Physician In The USA?
The average salary for a general physician is $162k/year (as of 2022). The total cash earnings of the physicians range from $78K to $255K on the high end.
$78k - $255k
$1k - $50k
$0 - $6k
$57k - $266k
Depending on which branch you will follow, you will have different responsibilities and different salaries. It is highly recommended to focus yourself on one branch, this way it’s more likely to have a better salary.
The more you focus on one niche, the better you will be paid. Nonetheless, if you don’t get a specialization, you will still be working in one of the top-paying jobs in the USA. A physician’s salary can go from 150,000 per year to 300,00.
What Does A Physician Actually Do?
Physicians are responsible for many important tasks such as: diagnosing and treating illnesses or injuries, examining patients, counseling them on preventive healthcare, reviewing medical histories and prescribing them medications for taking from pharmacists.
Being a physician can have pros and cons, just like any other profession.
One of the pros would have to be that being a physician is a very respectable profession that has always opened positions. Healthcare is one of the most important bases of society, right next to education and security.
But on the other hand, as a con, being a doctor requires a lot of your time. You don’t get to rest much and you will always be contacted by your patients at any given time of your day.
What Are The Responsibilities Of Physicians?
Physicians normally have the following responsibilities:
- Diagnosing and treating patients for different medical issues.
- Regular checkups and examinations for their patients.
- Taking and reviewing a patient’s medical history.
- Updating patient information with current findings and proper treatments.
- Ordering and reviewing test results for discovering abnormalities.
- Recommending or creating an effective treatment plan for the patient.
- Providing professional answers and expertise to the patient’s concerns about their health.
- Advising patients on proper nutrition, hygiene, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.
What Are The Different Fields That Physicians Can Specialize In?
Physicians can work and specialize in one or more specialties. Here are some popular medical fields for physicians:
- General internal medicine – General physicians diagnose and treat patients, through medication or hospitalization, for a range of issues (related to internal body organs).
- Family medicine – These physicians are general physicians who treat a variety of conditions that occur in the lives of their long-term patients (which usually include all family members).
- Emergency medicine – These physicians are also general physicians responsible for treating patients with urgent medical matters that require immediate attention.
- Anesthesiology – Anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists provide care and pain relief to surgical patients. They prepare and administer anesthetics to patients before surgery or other medical procedure in order to reduce or eliminate the sensation of pain.
- Cardiology – Cardiologists diagnose and treat conditions of the heart and blood vessels (which usually include high blood pressure and heart attacks).
- Dermatology – Dermatologists provide medical care for diseases related to the skin, hair, and nails (such as melanoma or skin cancer).
- Pediatrics – Pediatricians provide care for children (infants, teenagers, and young adults). They diagnose and treat specific issues that affect young people. Pediatricians usually treat minor injuries, illnesses or disorders and also administer vaccinations to children.
- Pathology – Pathologists test body tissue, organs, bodily fluids, and autopsies to diagnose and study diseases. They are mainly concerned with the cause, origin, and nature of the disease.
- Psychiatry – Psychiatrists are responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. They provide personal counseling (psychotherapy), psychoanalysis, and medication for treating mental illnesses in their patients.
- Neurology – Neurologists are responsible for diagnosing and treating disorders related to the brain and nervous system. The disorders may include Alzheimer’s disease, sclerosis, autism, or epilepsy.
- Gynecology – Gynecologists provide care and guidance to women regarding different women-related matters such as pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, or their reproductive system.
- Ophthalmology – Ophthalmologists are responsible for diagnosing and treating eye conditions. They specialize in eyesight correction, preventing vision loss, and treating eye diseases (such as glaucoma, cataract, strabismus, etc.). Ophthalmologists also prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses.
There are a lot of medical fields, but some physicians may decide not to work in any of them and dedicate their careers to medical research or teaching.
What Does It Take To Be A Physician?
Before considering being a physician in the USA, you have to be aware that it takes a great amount of time in order to become a physician. You have to earn a degree in medical education and a license in order to practice, which usually takes more than 10 years to complete.
Without a doubt, this is one of the longest careers out there. Plus, you may need to consider getting a master’s degree in order to specialize yourself.
Here are the specific steps you need to take in order to become a licensed physician in the USA:
- First, you will need a bachelor’s degree (4 years of undergraduate program). Here you may choose to major in biology, psychology, anatomy, or chemistry.
- Next, you need to score high (over 500) on your Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). MCAT is a 5-hour exam with multiple choice that test your knowledge for enrolling in a top medical school. As a general rule of thumb, you should take this test 1 year before you begin medical school.
- After the test, you need to earn your medical degree (4 years of medical school). Medical schools provide a theoretical experience (2 years in classrooms and labs) and practical experience (2 years working with patients in hospitals under supervision), that helps you to excel as a doctor.
- During your medical school, you need to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which is a 3-step examination for medical licensure.
- Next, you will need an internship or residency program to learn the specialty you chose to pursue (3 – 7 years). This is a full-time job with a paid salary where residents further specialize in their field.
- Finally, you will need to acquire your medical license in your state. You will be eligible to obtain your medical license after the 1st year of your residency program. After you pass the final exam, you will become legally certified to treat patients in your state.
What Skills Does A Physician Need To Have?
Here are some of the most important skills that physicians need to have in order to be successful in their job:
Empathy and compassion – Physicians need to employ a sense of empathy and compassion for patients who are in pain or distress. They must have a high level of understanding for the patient and his/her family.
Communication skills – Physicians need to be excellent communicators in order to convey information in a clear and concise way so the patients and other medical staff can easily understand. They also need to have good written skills in order to write clear reports that precisely describe the medical condition of the patient.
Patience and tolerance – Sometimes, a patient may need special attention (for example, in case of fear, distress, or ignorance about the medical treatment). So the physicians must remain calm and tolerant when communicating with these patients.
Problem-solving skills – Physicians need to be great problem-solvers, especially in urgent situations when they need to evaluate patients’ symptoms quickly and determine appropriate treatment.
Attention to detail – In order to provide the best possible treatment to the patient, physicians must be precise and detail-oriented regarding the medical diagnosis of the patient.
Time-management skills – Very often, physicians will need to perform their jobs at a faster pace, which means they need to have a great sense of time management with patient care.
Administrative & organizational skills. Physicians need to have good recordkeeping and properly organize their data and documents.
Leadership skills – Since physicians usually work in a team, they need to coordinate effectively with the nurses, surgeons, and other healthcare workers in order to provide the best patient care or perform medical procedures.
Physical and mental strength – Because this job is very challenging, physicians must have great mental and physical health in order to take care of their patients.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how important physicians are for our well-being.
Due to this career importance, you will always be well paid as a physician. Giving physicians good pay is one of the top priorities of the American government.
But if you want to be a physician JUST for the money, most likely you will end unhappy and miserable with your decision!
Follow your heart and choose something that you can feel related to and that you really love!