A physician is a medical practitioner who’s education centers around the practice of medicine.
In many cases patients may refer to their physician as “doctor”, which is a commonly accepted term used to describe physicians and surgeons that have obtained their doctorate degree and practice in the field.
These medical experts diagnose, treat and care for patients that are dealing with a wide range of physical and/or mental injuries, disabilities, diseases or illnesses.
Physicians gather and analyze patient medical histories, diagnose and treat various medical conditions, prescribe treatments and medications and (for surgeons) perform emergency surgical procedures on patients who require advanced medical care.
Those who become physicians may decide to begin their career as a general physician or specialize in a specific field of healthcare.
Some of these specialized fields can include emergency medicine, family care, gynecology, cardiology and surgery among other career choices.
What do physicians do?
Physicians operate at the highest level of medical care.
They provide a wide range of services and practices to help patients recover from their physical or mental ailments, and counsel them on how to make better life choices.
Some of the responsibilities and tasks a physician may perform can include:
- Obtaining and examining patient medical records and history
- Interviewing patients to gather pertinent medical information
- Performing patient examinations
- Taking and monitoring patient vital signs
- Gathering patient samples for lab testing
- Diagnosing and treating a range of mental and physical injures, diseases and disorders
- Prescribe medications
- Specify and impose patient treatment plans
- Perform surgical procedures (specialized surgeons)
- Counsel patients on their health and well – being
Aside from direct medical care physicians also spend time educating patients on how to improve their lifestyle and properly recover from an injury, illness or surgical procedure.
Physicians have the highest level of medical expertise within their field and thus also have a lot of responsibilities that they must perform with accuracy and efficiency.
Those who become physicians must be able to lead and manage teams effectively as they’ll likely be working with other medical care givers who report to them and also provide care to the same patients on a regular basis.
As with other medical professionals physicians must make patient confidentiality a priority and be able to maintain a level of professionalism and respect for their patients.
Being personable and caring are also necessary components of a good physician as they allow patients to develop rapport with them, open up about the personal aspects of their lives (medical and other) and gain a level of trust that makes the patient confident their visits will remain confidential.
Most physicians spend 8 – 10 years in an educational institution and another 3 – 8 years working in a residency in order to become proficient in their career.
From an education aspect medical students spend around 4 years in an undergraduate program in order to earn their bachelors degree, and spend an additional 4 years in medical school before / while taking internships and taking part in residency programs to earn their license and become physicians.
The extensive training that physicians receive allow them to specialize and practice in any area of healthcare, and perform their duties at the highest level and with the most authority.
Physicians who obtain their degree, complete the residency program and gain licensing can choose to work in almost any medical setting such as at a hospital, healthcare center, family clinic, specialty surgeon office or open their own clinic.
Aside from working in areas that focus specifically on patients and direct medical care physicians may also choose to work for educational institutions, governmental agencies, law firms, law enforcement, medical and diagnostic laboratories and research labs.
For example physicians who choose to take on roles such as working with a law firm or law enforcement may use their expertise to assist with criminal trials by provide critical insights, observing forensic data and simplifying complicated medical terminology/jargon so that the judge, jury and lawyers can develop a more accurate understanding of the case and the actual events that occured.
Depending on where physicians work and who they work for their work schedule and area of patient care can vary drastically.
Physicians that own their own office for example may work Monday through Friday from 9am – 5pm while physicians that work in the emergency room of a hospital may work morning, noon’s and/or nights, and may be on call for emergency situations.
Physicians that work in long-term care facilities may operate as an overseer and provide care to patients who need additional medical attention while the registered nurses and CNA’s care for patients under less severe circumstances.
As mentioned earlier these medical professionals may work in a wide range of healthcare centers.
Physicians can work in hospitals, surgical rooms, critical care units, general practice facilities, long-term care centers and physician offices among other settings.
Each of these settings can specialize in a specific type of medical care and depending on the care that is required a physician may be able to work within a range of medical practices or be required to gain additional education to practice within a specific field or setting.
Because physicians aren’t able to diagnose, treat and care for every patient they receive they may work with nurse aides, certified nurse assistants, registered nurses and nurse practitioners to ensure that proper care and time is spent with each individual patient.
Registered nurses for example can identify patient medical problems, interview patients to gather additional information, manage some medical treatment procedures, dress wounds, assist patients with mobility and administer medications among other tasks, which allows physicians to spend more time on higher level medical tasks that require their expertise.
In some states physicians may also work alongside nurse practitioners run their own practices and act as an intermediary / supervisor in states that require a physician to be present.
In most specialized fields physicians are part of a team, and effective communication and coordination are important components in making sure everyone performs the tasks they are given while minimizing opportunities for errors or complications.
Even in situations where a physician may own his / her own clinic they need to be able to communicate and work effectively with their employees to ensure that patients receive adequate and timely care.