Physicians and surgeons essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $187,199
- 2012, number of jobs: 308,410
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 24 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Doctoral or professional degree
Physicians and surgeons; what they do:
Physicians and surgeons examine, diagnose and treat injured and sick patients. Physicians take patient histories, discuss proper diet and nutrition, prescribe medications, interpret diagnostic tests, and create a treatment plan. Surgeons operate on patients to treat a broad spectrum of injuries and illnesses from broken bones and deformities to different forms and stages of cancers.
Physicians and surgeons typically need good dexterity, excellent problem solving and communication skills, patience, and stamina.
Physicians include M.D. (Medical Doctor) and D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). A medical doctor and a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine use similar methods of diagnosis and treatment. However, D.O.s place additional importance on preventive medicine and holistic patient care.
Physicians and surgeons work in many different specialties. The specialties range from anesthesiologists who focus on the care of surgical patients and pain relief to family and general physicians who treat a range of everyday conditions from flu viruses to broken bones.
Physicians and surgeons job titles:
- General Internists
- General Pediatricians
- Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Physicians and Surgeons Education, Certification and License Requirements
Physicians need many years of schooling including four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school, and up to eight years in internship and residency programs, depending on their medical specialty.
Medical schools require all students to have a bachelor’s degree, pass a national medical test named the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), gain letters of recommendation, provide transcripts and have an interview with the admissions committee. Medical schools also look at volunteer work, extracurricular activities and a student’s overall personality.
The first two years of medical school usually involve mostly course work in subject areas such as biochemistry and anatomy as well as extensive lab work. The last two years mainly include working under trained physicians in local hospitals in special rotations areas such as pediatrics, internal medicine and gynecology. Students choose an area or specialty for their residency program. This program can take up to 8 years to complete depending upon the specialty.
All physicians and surgeons need to take a national licensure exam to attain a license and practice medicine. M.D.s take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). D.O.s take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). To increase chances of employment, doctors also have the option of becoming board certified by taking an examination after several years of residency.
Physicians and surgeons programs cover subjects such as:
- The human body
- Human genetics
- Medical ethics
- Human physiology
Physicians and Surgeons Job Outlook
Forecast: 24 percent employment growth for physicians and surgeons from 2010 to 2020. Employment will increase due to expanding healthcare industries, a growing aging population and the demand for better care using the latest in technologies, diagnostic tests, and therapies.
However, cost-saving factors may reduce the need for doctors such as new technologies as well as nurse practitioners who can perform the work of doctors. Reimbursement policies and higher out-of-pocket costs effecting patients also affect the demand for physician services.
Physicians and Surgeons Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $187,199
- 2012, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $233,998
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $109,790
- Private offices
- Healthcare organizations