What is a Doctor?

Also known as: Doctor Of Medicine, Physician.

A doctor is someone who maintains or restores human health through the practice of medicine. He or she will diagnose and treat human disease, ailments, injuries, pain or other conditions. A doctor can be found in several settings, including public health organizations, teaching facilities, private practices, group practices and hospitals.

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What does a Doctor do?

A doctor's schedule will differ depending on the kind of medicine they practice. Some doctors work in an office, others in the hospital, and some in places you may not think of, like laboratories where they develop new medicines and research cures.

A doctor typically works very long hours and has to be available for emergencies. These hours are spent seeing patients in an office-based setting, running tests as well as interpreting them, prescribing medicine or treatments, doing rounds in the hospital, making notes on patient's physical conditions, advising patients on how to stay healthy and talking to them about further treatment. They keep up to date by taking classes and regularly reading books and medical journals.

A doctor that also performs surgeries will usually work two or three full days in the office and then two or three days in the hospital operating room performing surgeries. Doctors will also invest time completing administrative duties such as updating patient records, returning phone calls or dealing with various office issues.

The following are various types of doctors. Click on each type to learn what they do.

Anesthesiologist - Anesthesia Specialist

Cardiologist - Heart Specialist

Chiropractor - Musculoskeletal And Nervous System Specialist

Coroner (Medical Examiner) - Cause Of Death Investigation Specialist

Dentist - Dental Specialist

Dermatologist - Skin Specialist

Family Practitioner - General Family Physician

Gynecologist - Childbirth & Gynecological Specialist

Immunologist - Allergy Specialist

Internist - Internal Medicine Specialist

Naturopathic Physician - Naturopathic Medicine Specialist

Neurologist - Brain Specialist

Ophthalmologist - Eye Specialist

Orthodontist - Jaws And Teeth Alignment Specialist

Pathologist - Performs Autopsies And Are Living Organism Abnormality Specialists. Forensic Pathologists Help Police & FBI Solve Crimes

Pediatrician - Treats Medical Problems Of Infants, Children And Adolescents

Podiatrist - Foot & Ankle Specialist

Psychiatrist - Mental Illness & Behavioural Disorder Specialist

Radiologist - X-Ray & Imaging Technology Specialist

Sports Medicine Physician - Sports Injury Specialist

Surgeon - Performs Operations

Urologist - Urinary System Specialist

Veterinarian - Animal Specialist

Zoo Endocrinologist - Animal Hormone Specialist

How to become a Doctor

This profession not only requires extensive knowledge of academic disciplines and existing diseases and their cures, but requires communication skills that will enable the doctor to establish good relationships with their patients. Many years of training are required, including undergraduate, graduate and hands-on study. To know exactly how long the training will take one must choose a specialty.

A pre-med student will typically obtain a bachelor of science degree in biology or chemistry. This degree typically takes four years to complete, and all prerequisites for medical school must be met. After completing the first four years, the aspiring doctor must pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), a standardized exam that takes several hours to complete.

Students will typically then spend four years in medical school. The first two years are spent doing classroom and laboratory work. The last two years are spent doing clinical rotations, or clerkships, in different medical departments, such as general practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, osteopathy, psychiatry and surgery. By experiencing these areas, students get the chance to decide on their specialty. Clinical rotations are conducted in hospitals and are always monitored by professionals.

Entering a residency program is the next step. This is when students obtain on-the-job paid training, usually in hospitals, under the supervision of senior physician educators. Students are then called 'residents'. They act as professional doctors, dealing with patients, prescribing medications and working in different hospital areas.

If a specialty is chosen, the student will need to complete a fellowship or internship after their residency. This can take from one to three years.

Regardless of the specialty, a doctor must receive licensure before practicing medicine. Licensure is obtained from the jurisdiction or state, and this is done by passing the states medical licensing exam. In Canada one must register with the college of physicians and surgeons in the province of residence.

Becoming a doctor is not easy. Getting through all the years of rigorous study requires not only patience and dedication, but a desire to help people. Sometimes students will not make it to the end, even after passing the medical exam. In this case, a student can opt for other medical jobs, such as nursing or becoming a vocational doctor.

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