What is this job like?
Doctors make people healthier. When people get sick, doctors figure out why. They examine people, listen to them describe their health problems, and do tests to see what is wrong. They give people medicine and other kinds of treatment. They also give advice about diet, exercise, and sleep.
There are many kinds of doctors. Family and general practitioners are often the first doctors that people go to when they get sick. These doctors treat common problems. They also send patients to other doctors, called specialists. Specialists are experts in specific types of health problems.
For example, internists focus on problems with internal organs. Pediatricians care for children and babies. Surgeons perform operations, like fixing broken bones or transplanting organs.
Most doctors are doctors of medicine (M.D.). They treat all kinds of diseases and injuries. Some doctors are doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.).
Many doctors work long hours, at all times of day and night. About 3 out of 10 physicians worked more than 60 hours a week in 2008. But doctors who work in small offices often have more time off. Doctors sometimes have to rush to the hospital to deal with emergencies.
How do you get ready?
Becoming a doctor requires more training than most other jobs. It usually takes at least 11 years to become a doctor: 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and 3 years working in a hospital. For some specialties, doctors may have to work in a hospital for up to 8 years before they are fully trained.
To become a doctor, you should study biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English. It is not easy to get into medical school. You have to do very well in college and on medical school entrance tests.
Students spend most of the first 2 years of medical school in labs and classrooms. They take lots of science courses. They also learn to ask patients the right questions and how to examine them. They learn how to tell what sickness a patient has. In the last 2 years, students work with patients and doctors in hospitals and clinics. After medical school, doctors go to work in a hospital for a few years. They are called residents. To be a resident, you must pass a test.
If you want to be a doctor, you should like to help people. You should also be willing to study a lot.
You have to know how to talk to sick people. And you should be able to make decisions and handle emergencies.
How much does this job pay?
Of all jobs, being a doctor usually pays the most money. According to the Medical Group Management Association’s Physician Compensation and Production Survey, median wages depended on what kind of doctor a person was. The median yearly wages of general practitioners were $186,044 in 2008. Specialists usually made more, about $339,738 per year. How much they earned also depended on how long they had been doctors and where they lived. It also depended on how many hours they worked and how good a doctor they were.
How many jobs are there?
Physicians held about 661,400 jobs in 2008. More doctors are working as partners or in a group.
What about the future?
The number of jobs for physicians is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2018. This is partly because new machines and tools are letting doctors treat more health problems. It is also partly because the population is growing and getting older, so they will need more health care.
Job opportunities for doctors are expected to be good, especially in rural and low-income areas. Some of these areas do not have enough doctors.