The action of a medical doctor is often the difference between life and death. Tasked with examining, diagnosing and treating patients, it is perhaps one of the most rewarding and challenging professions around. Ever wondered what it takes to become a doctor? How much a doctor makes? You’ve come to the right place. Here, we take a brief look at the profession; answering questions on a doctor’s salary, key responsibilities, career path and typical work environment.
Medical Doctor Salary
What is the salary of a medical doctor? Physicians and doctors are among the highest paid professions around. The average salary for a physician (unspecialized doctor, or general practitioner) is [Annual Salary] per annum, or [Hourly Salary] per hour. Starting salaries are also high, as entry-level positions earn an average of [Starting Salary]. The top 10% earn [Top 10] annually, whereas the lowest 10% earn an average of [Low 10] per annum.
Income varies massively with specialization and experience. Specialized physicians, known as doctors, must spend more time in education and consequently command higher salaries. For example, anesthesiologists are doctors responsible for administering drugs during surgery, and have an average salary of $270,000 according to PayScale. The top 5 paying industries are [Top 5]. Salary also depends on location; the top 5 paying states are [State 1], [State 2], [State 3], [State 4], and [State 5].
Medical doctors diagnose patients by physical examinations and tests. Based on the findings, doctors prescribe treatments or medication, hopefully healing the patient. In some cases, patients will be referred to specialists. The term “physician” refers to someone who has graduated from medical school. On the other hand, a medical doctor is a physician that has taken further training and specialized in a particular field. The terms are often interchangeable, as some specialized doctors practice as general practitioners, or physicians (not specialized). There is many fields that physicians can specialize in, such as cardiology, pediatric, radiology or orthopedic.
General practitioner’s main task is examining different patients. After performing diagnostic tests, physicians need to recommend or design treatment plans. They may also counsel patients, addressing other health concerns such as diet or hygiene. A critical component of the job is record keeping as previous illnesses, injuries or medical prescriptions can aid diagnosis and affect future treatment. It’s also important for everyone in medical professions to be aware of new developments in the field. New technology and research constantly changes the medical landscape, so doctors and physicians must be continually learning by attending seminars or reading journals.
Work environments depend on specialization, although all doctors work in sterile, well-lit environments. Physicians usually work in small clinics, spending their time in an office or examining rooms, whereas doctors working in hospital emergency departments are constantly on their feet, travelling between wards tending to patients.
Working hours greatly vary. In private clinics, doctors often work independently so are responsible for the care of all their patients. Consequently, they are always “on call” and can’t take extended holidays. Hours are irregular, as they are ultimately dictated by patient needs. Meanwhile doctors working for large healthcare organizations have more time off and enjoy regular hours, as patient care is coordinated by multiple individuals. Obviously, they will work less independently than solo practitioners.
The life of a doctor is comparable to a roller coaster ride, experiencing highs and lows. The knowledge that you’re helping patients recover makes it an incredibly fulfilling career, but losing patients can be devastating. It’s a very stressful career, preying on both your physical and mental energy. In urban areas with lots of patients, schedules are often fully booked with appointments with no room for inevitable hiccups, so work is hectic on a daily basis. Being on call means being ready to rush to the hospital in case of emergency even if it’s the early hours of the morning.
How to become a Medical Doctor
Becoming a doctor is a very lengthy process which can take up to 16 years. To apply to Medical school, you must have at least a Bachelor’s degree, which is offered by many institutions as 4 year programs.
Medical schools are notoriously competitive to enter. They assess applicants in a number of categories, such as leadership, personality and extra-curricular activities. Candidates meeting the criteria are typically then given an interview with the admissions team before being accepted.
The first two years of medical school are spent in classrooms and laboratories, taking courses such as biochemistry, medicine, pharmacology and psychology. For the final two years, students work with a variety of patients, under professional supervision. Students rotate through different disciplines, thus gaining experience in a broad range of medical fields. After medical school, students spend 3-8 years in “residency”, gaining further practical experience. Finally, passing the U.S Medical Licensing Exam allows one to practice as a physician.
Employment opportunities for doctors are predicted to grow rapidly over the next decade, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting an 18% increase in jobs from 2012 to 2022, much faster average. A growing population demanding more medical services fuels job growth, so much so that medical schools are expanding to accommodate.
Some fields are growing particularly quickly. Cardiologists and radiologists are needed to treat ageing populations with increased risks of cancer and heart disease. Rural areas typically struggle to attract doctors, creating bright job prospects for individuals not thrilled by city life.
Other factors slow employment growth. Medical jobs are particularly sensitive to current health care reimbursement policies – if people are asked to pay more for medical services, less people use them and demand for doctors decreases. Additionally, new technology allows more patients to be treated by less doctors, further hampering growth.
Anesthesiologists are doctors who administer anesthetic drugs, providing pain relief for patients in surgery. During operations, they carefully monitor a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and breathing, and adjust the dose of anesthetic accordingly. Their work is often needed during childbirth and in intensive care units. Entering the profession involves graduating from medical school and then specializing in anesthesiology. The average salary is $270,000.
Surgeons treat patient injuries and diseases by operations. They use a variety of different instruments to correct physical deformities and repair bone or tissue. Surgeons can specialize in a number of different fields such as orthopedic or neurological surgery. Operating on patients demands a great deal of concentration, and surgeons must also be calm under pressure if something were to go wrong. The average salary of a surgeon is $240,463 according to PayScale.