How To Become A Doctor
Career Video: Doctor
Do you want to heal people who are sick? Do you want to help them get better so they can enjoy life more fully with their family and friends? If the answer to both these questions is a resounding yes then you can consider a career as a doctor. As a physician, you will be seeing patients, ordering and interpreting laboratory and diagnostic test results, diagnosing medical conditions and prescribing appropriate medication to alleviate the condition. Aside from prescribing drugs, you will also be giving advice to patients on how they can also help their bodies recover and stay healthy after getting treatment by eating a well-balanced diet, observing good hygiene and engaging in regular exercise.
You will be getting the medical history of the patient to gain a better understanding of his condition. As soon as test results come in, you will be updating the patient’s records with the most recent findings. You also see your patient on a regular basis in order to monitor his condition and redesign the treatment plan in case the patient has not shown any sign of improvement in the previous plan. If the patient has any questions about their condition or the medicines they are taking, you will be providing them with the answers.
As a doctor, the conditions you treat and the kind of patients you see will depend on your specialization. Family and general physicians are doctors who can treat a wide range of diseases that people normally encounter. General internists are those who provide care for patients, mainly adults, with problems in their stomachs, kidneys, liver and other internal organs. Anesthesiologists work to administer anesthetics that would numb a patient’s feeling of pain in surgical procedures and other medical operations. Pediatricians are the doctors who give care to babies, toddlers, children and adolescents while obstetricians and gynecologists give care to women who are pregnant. They also diagnose and give treatment to diseases that affect women, including breast cancer, menopausal symptoms and hormonal disorders. Doctors who treat patients with mental illnesses through medication, psychoanalysis and hospitalization are called psychiatrists.
You need to have compassion for others if you want to be a successful doctor. You need to deal with distraught and emotionally stressed patients who are worried about their disease. You also need to pay attention to detail because patients need to be given the appropriate doses for their medication. Having keen problem-solving skills is essential since you will be looking at a patient’s symptoms and determining what his medical condition is. In the emergency room, doctors have to act quickly in order to save a patient’s life. A career as a physician is very demanding and as such, you also need to have the physical endurance to spend long hours in the hospital, lift and assist patients and comfort family members in the event of the demise of a loved one.
Why Become A Doctor
A career as a doctor is a calling. Thus, one reason to become a doctor is to fulfill a childhood dream of caring for people and healing them. It puts you in a place where you can actually make a difference in the lives of people and the community you serve. It’s also a profession that makes you earn the respect and gratitude of your patients and their families.
A career as a doctor is not only emotionally and psychologically fulfilling, it is also financially lucrative. Aspiring doctors may also be encouraged by the fact that government estimates reveal that there will be a plethora of job opportunities for physicians in the coming years.
Doctor Work Environment
Doctors often work in private offices or clinics together with nurses and administrative staff. They may also have their own solo practice or join forces with other doctors to establish a group practice. They may also be employed by hospitals and healthcare organizations. The work is often fulltime, with long hours and evening, weekend and holiday work common in the job. When on-call, a doctor may be asked to report to the hospital whenever there is an emergency. They may also attend to emergencies even when they are not on-call, such as when the patient they are caring for in a nursing home needs prompt care.
The work can be stressful and physically demanding. Doctors may also contract infections from patients. However, this can be minimized by wearing protective equipment and following established safety procedures.
The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of physicians and surgeons is $191,880. Among the highest-paid doctors are anesthesiologists who received $235,070 and obstetricians and gynecologists who were paid $212,570.
The Medical Group Management Association’s Physician Compensation and Production Survey revealed in a 2012 survey that the wages of physicians and surgeons were much higher. The total median annual compensation of physicians in primary care practice was $220,942 while those who were in medical specialties were paid $396,233. In that survey, anesthesiologists were paid a median annual compensation of $431,977 while obstetricians and gynecologists got $301,737. The earnings of a physician depend on the region where he is practicing, the number of hours worked and his reputation as a doctor.
Doctor Career Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the employment of physicians and surgeons is set to rise 18 percent in the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022. This rate is faster than the average for all occupations. The demand will come from the burgeoning of industries that are related to healthcare. Another driver of demand is the growth of the elderly population who are expected to seek medical care for various health issues. The best opportunities will be for doctors who are willing to take their practice to rural areas or those places where the people have low income since these have a dearth of physicians. Those who specialize in heart disease and cancer are bound to have good prospects since these are the kinds of conditions faced by the growing elderly population.
The road towards becoming a doctor starts with a bachelor’s degree. No particular major is required but the aspiring doctor needs to have a background in biology, chemistry, physics, math and English. After obtaining his four-year bachelor’s degree, an applicant will then enter medical school, provided that he is able to hack the very competitive application process.
Medical school takes four years to complete with the first two years spent in the classroom and in laboratories. The last two years give medical students exposure to real-world conditions in the supervised rotations in hospitals and clinics. After graduating from medical school, physicians then enter a residency program which can last for anywhere from three to eight years. In residency, they specialize in their field of interest.
Before they can practice, doctors have to obtain their license. They must satisfy all requirements to be given their license, including passing the US Medical Licensing Examination.