3 minute read


Education and Training: Advanced medical degree
Average Salary: $186,000
Job Outlook: Excellent

Doctors are the leading healthcare professionals in this country. They diagnose illness, prescribe medicine, and offer treatment advice to people suffering disease or illness. Doctors examine patients, create medical histories, order diagnostic tests, and give medical and health advice, including offering preventative care.

Doctors are either general practitioners who see a variety of patients and are usually the first person a patient sees when ill or visits for routine medical and preventative care. Other doctors choose to specialize in a number of different areas. Those areas include, but are not limited to, anesthesiology, family medicine, general medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery.

Education and Training Requirements

Doctors need one of two advanced degrees, either the M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). To be a doctor requires eight years of education after high school, and three to eight years of internships and residencies. You must be licensed by the state to practice medicine. Overall, doctors need four years of undergraduate work, four years of medical school, and then the internship/residency.

It is recommended that students complete coursework in physics, biology, English, math, chemistry, humanities, and social sciences. There are 129 medical schools that have received accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. There are 25 schools accredited by the American Osteopathic Association. The competition for spots in these schools are high.

Getting the Job

While in medical school, doctors complete internships and residency programs to gain experience. These positions can lead to full-time positions. It is very difficult to break into the medical field because of the amount of schooling involved to become a licensed doctor. It is also recommended that students volunteer at hospitals, clinics and other places where healthcare is delivered to learn about the profession.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The field of medicine for doctors is expected to grow faster than the national average, and job opportunities should be very good because the field is expected to experience a 22 percent growth in the next decade. This will occur because of growth in other healthcare industries, an aging population that will require more healthcare, the demand for preventative healthcare, new technologies, diagnostic tests, etc. The rising cost of healthcare and a healthcare education along with the ability of less expensive nurse practitioners and physician assistants could produce slower growth in the field.

The field is expected to produce a lot of job openings, including the need to replace a lot of retiring physicians and surgeons. Those who wish to practice in low-income or rural areas will find many opportunities. Also, those doctors who specialize will also see a number of opportunities for work.

Doctors can advance on a number of different career levels. Some become specialists and develop a reputation for only doing certain types of medicine. Others work in hospitals or start their own practices. There are also teaching, managerial, and administrative positions for doctors.

Working Conditions and Environment

Doctors work in all types of settings, including hospitals, clinics, offices, and in the field. They must stand for long periods of time, but generally work in clean, safe environments. Being a doctor can be stressful. Doctors routinely work more than 50 hours per week and it is a physically and emotionally demanding job. The hours can be irregular, and often include night and weekend work.

Salary and Benefits

The median salary for doctors is $186,000. However, the salary can vary widely depending on location, specialty, and other factors. Some doctors specializing in certain medicines have a median salary of $339,000. Doctors who own their own practice generally make more than those who work in salaried positions. Self-employed doctors are responsible for their own health insurance and benefits.

Where to Go for More Information

American Academy of Family Physicians
11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
Leawood, Kansas 66211-2680
(800) 274-2237

American Medical Association
515 N State St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(800) 621-8335

National Association of Doctors
180 E Main St., Ste. 203
Smithtown, NY 11787
(800) 237-0270

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine