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Career Q&A: Physician

In Demand: Careers in Health Care, Career Voyages, U.S. Dept. of Labor

What will I do?

Physicians are on the front line of health care. Patients turn to physicians first when they are sick or injured. They depend n their doctors to identiy the right clues, order the right tests, and ultimate, make the diagnosis.

Not every doctor can be an expert on every condition, so they often turn to their specialist colleagues when surgery is needed or when more detailed diagnosis and treatment are needed for a certain part of the body. Doctors also specialize according to the age of the patients that they treat or a specific type of problem, such as mental illness.

What training will I need?

If you want to be a doctor, doing very well in science and math will help prepare you to take pre-med courses in college. Students typically get a bachelor’s degree that includes the pre-med courses,and then they apply to medical school.

How do I get it?

Medical school takes four years to complete. There are two types of medical schools. The most common ones offer the traditional M.D. degree. There are about 20 medical schools that offer osteopathic training that emphasizes the musculoskeletal system, along with disease and injury prevention. During the first two years medical studnts take advanced courses in sciene, diseases, examining patients, ethics and laws. During the last two years, they do a broad range of “rotations,” under the supervision of their instructors, in hospitals and clinics. After medical school, new doctors must complete an internship and residency that lasts from three to eight years.

How much will I earn?

Physicians are among the highest-paid medical professionals. Their earnings depend on many factors; among them are specialty, years of training, hours worked, skill and geographic area. For a new physician, salaray ranges from $137,119 for family medicine to $259,948 for anesthesiology.

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