What is a Doctor?
Table of Contents
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.
There is a specific type of doctor for almost every major system located in the human body. Listed below are just a few examples:
How to Become a Doctor
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Get the Education
Dawn Career Institute Inc | Wilmington, DEOffers: Certificate
Delaware Technical Community College-Terry | Dover, DEOffers: Certificate, Associates
Delaware Technical Community College-Stanton/Wilmington | Wilmington, DEOffers: Certificate, Associates
Delaware State University | Dover, DEOffers: Bachelors
University of Delaware | Newark, DEOffers: Bachelors
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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
Cardiothoracic Surgeon - Thorax Surgeon (Heart, Lungs, Esophagus, And Other Organs In The Chest)
Chiropractor - Musculoskeletal And Nervous System Specialist
Colorectal Surgeon - Colon Rectum Anus And Gastric Tract Specialist
Coroner (Medical Examiner) - Cause Of Death Investigation Specialist
Dentist - Dental Specialist
Dermatologist - Skin Specialist
Endocrinologist - Hormone Specialist
Family Practitioner - General Family Physician
Forensic Pathologist - Investigates Sudden and Unexpected Deaths
Gastroenterologist - Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract Specialist
Gynecologist - Childbirth & Gynecological Specialist
Hospitalist - Medical Care of Hospitalized Patients
Immunologist - Allergy Specialist
Internist - Internal Medicine Specialist
Naturopathic Physician - Naturopathic Medicine Specialist
Neurologist - Brain Specialist
Neurosurgeon - Brain Surgeon
Occupational Physician - Workplace Health & Safety
Oncologist - Cancer Specialist
Ophthalmologist - Eye Specialist
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon - Dental/Medical Specialist
Orthopaedic Surgeon - Musculoskeletal System Specialist
Orthodontist - Jaws And Teeth Alignment Specialist
Otolaryngologist - Ear, Nose, Throat, and Related Structures of the Head and Neck Specialist
Pathologist - Performs Autopsies And Are Living Organism Abnormality Specialists
Pediatrician - Treats Medical Problems Of Infants, Children And Adolescents
Periodontist - Dental Specialist in Periodontal Disease
Plastic Surgeon - Reconstructive, Aesthetic or Cosmetic Surgeon
Podiatrist - Foot & Ankle Specialist
Prosthodontist - Dental Specialist
Psychiatrist - Mental Illness & Behavioural Disorder Specialist
Pulmonologist - Lung And Respiratory 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
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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 state's 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.
What is the workplace of a Doctor like?
There are many workplaces available for doctors. Some start working at an existing practice while others open their own practice. Large hospitals are always eager to take on new staff members. It is believed that a lot depends on your personal preferences as the environment in each place will be different (i.e. a government hospital vs. a private hospital).
In general the healthcare industry continues to grow, which is good news for anyone who is interested in a medical career.
A pharmacist has a doctorate degree - a PharmD, or Doctor of Pharmacy. Many professions require a doctorate degree (for example, a professor, a phsychologist, etc). However, they are not "doctors" like your medical doctors are. For example, while in a crowded airplane flight, someone yells out "is there a doctor in the house?" would or should a PharmD stand up and approach in the affirmative? Probably not. Clearly here they are referring to a physician that has completed medical school and can take charge in a medical emergency.
Also relevant for Pharmacist
The Four Years Of Medical School
Physician Voice: Why And How Did You Become A Doctor?
Why You Should Still Become A Doctor
Heart Surgeon - A Day In The Life.
Day In The Life Of A Plastic Surgeon
Doctors Offer Advice To Medical Students
Stuff About Med School I Wish I'd Known In College