Medical Doctor Job Description
Whether they are diagnosing an illness or treating an injury, a Medical Doctor is essentially concerned with restoring a patient’s optimum health. Medical Doctors perform health assessments, run diagnostic tests, prescribe medication, create treatment plans and provide health and wellness advice to patients. Medical Doctors can specialize in specific areas of health, such as dermatology, neurology, gastroenterology or gynecology. They might also perform surgery.
Medical Doctors work in hospitals, clinics, surgical centers, community health centers or private or group physicians’ offices. As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical Doctors can expect to see a 14 percent increase in employment opportunities over the 2014-2024 period. This growth will be fueled by the medical needs of an aging population, advanced in healthcare technology and an increase in those covered by health insurance. This growth can change due to other factors, such as hospital budget cuts or an expected increase in the employment of physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
Medical Doctor Duties and Responsibilities
To accomplish their primary goal of providing care to sick and injured patients as well as maintaining the health of all patients, Medical Doctors perform several tasks. We have reviewed several job listings and found the following among the core Medical Doctor duties and responsibilities.
Assess Patients’ Conditions
A main responsibility of a Medical Doctor is to evaluate patients who have illnesses or injuries. This would involve ordering diagnostic tests and interpreting the results of these tests to determine what illness a patient has or the extent of a specific injury, such as a broken bone or concussion. Medical Doctors discuss test finding with patients.
Create Treatment Plans
Once a diagnosis has been made, it is the responsibility of the Medical Doctor to prescribe medication or treatment plans to address the patient’s condition. Medical Doctors determine the course of treatment, such as how much medication should be taken over a prescribed amount of time or how long an injured limb should be rested or placed in a cast. Medical Doctors arrange for as many follow-up visits as they deem necessary to restore the patient to full health. Medical Doctors might also make referrals for patients whom they cannot treat and are in need of specialized care.
Perform Routine Physicals
Medical Doctors also see patients who are not ill or injured but who are seeking to maintain their current level of health. Medical Doctors will conduct routine physical exams that would include vitals, reviewing patient history, discussing any health concerns of the patient and instructing patients on proper diet and exercise habits.
Medical Doctor Skills
A Medical Doctor should be analytical and detail-oriented problem solvers with strong written and verbal communication skills. They should have the ability to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals as needed. Strong interpersonal skills and the desire to help others are also essential to the success of Medical Doctors. In addition to these general skills, a Medical Doctor could be expected by potential employers to possess the following skills.
Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Medical Doctors with these core skills. If you want to work as a Medical Doctor, focus on the following.
- Recognizing symptoms and signs of various illness and injuries to order appropriate tests and prescribe treatments
- Creating care plans
- Coordinating diagnostic tests and other services
- Counseling patients on preventive healthcare practices
- Using electronic medical records systems
- Understanding proper format for patient note documentation
- Possessing current state licensure and medication dispensing license (DEA)
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Medical Doctor toolbox and broaden your career options.
- Keep informed of latest advances in medicine and the healthcare industry
- Being bilingual
Medical Doctor Resources
It is beneficial to conduct additional research if you are considering a career as a Medical Doctor. Below, we have provided links to online and print resources about this career.
On the Web
The Doctor Blog – A blog written by licensed Medical Doctors offering insights and advice on medical issues and the medical profession.
KevinMD.com – Professional Medical Doctors contribute to this blog, which covers current topics and musings about the challenges and issues facing those working in the field.
Physician’s Weekly – An online publication containing articles about medical specialties, current trends and a medical blog called Doctor’s Voice that provides the thoughts of Medical Doctors on everything from note-taking to procedural practices.
American Medical Association (AMA) – An organization providing support and professional information for Medical Doctors since 1847. Offers advocacy information, links to publications, educational resources and expert advice for medical practice.
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) – Established in 1943, AAPS consists of Medical Doctors offering professional support through information about current medical news and issues, journals, podcasts, videos and brochures.
American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) – This professional organization provides Medical Doctors with news and information about practice management techniques, patient care topics and continuing education. Offers conferences, summits, professional development programs and online journals.
Becoming a Doctor: From Student to Specialist, Doctor-Writers Share Their Experiences – An anthology of real-life journeys written by actual Medical Doctors that give personal insight into becoming and being a licensed physician.
Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance 1st Edition – A Medical Doctor’s account of the challenges and successes of being in this profession.
How Doctors Think – This book examines the decision-making process of Medical Doctors as they evaluate and diagnose patients.
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