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About Physician Jobs

The demand for physician jobs is on the rise, according to reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A career as a doctor has always been a good, well-respected choice. While the educational requirements are quite severe, and the work itself carries a lot of responsibility with it, many people believe this is a very worthwhile, impactful career.

Furthermore, if you’re looking to become a doctor, the job growth in this field is practically guaranteed. With an aging population (like the one in the US) comes a greater need for medical assistance and care. This continued need for care leads to a greater demand for physicians. The above-average salaries coupled with the generally altruistic work, it’s pretty understandable that a career in medicine is an attractive and well-respected choice.

Working as a doctor means your entire career centers around helping people get better. You will help people cure their illnesses, become healthier, and rid themselves of any health issues they might have—or you’ll at least help minimize the damage these problems can cause.

You can also expect a solid rise in employment within this career, with the BLS reporting a substantial increase in jobs—an increase that’s projected to continue up through 2028 at least.

What Does a Physician Do?

It’s hard to properly define this job description, mostly because there are so many different positions, not to mention the various specializations. Still, on a basic level, you can expect to take care of people’s wellbeing and assist them in getting over illnesses or health-based difficulties, either physical or mental—no matter what the specifics of your chosen profession require.

Physician Job Description

As a doctor, your primary goal will be to help your patients get better. Whether this is through surgery, prescribing medication, a simple checkup, or an hour-long conversation within your capacity as a psychotherapist, it doesn’t matter. 

Now, the exact job description depends greatly on your specialization. The day-to-day work as a psychotherapist will greatly differ from what you’ll find outlined in the standard ER doctor job description

Note that no matter your specialty, you will still most likely have most, if not all, of the activities below noted, as part of your routine” 

  • Thinking up plans and systems for patient treatment
  • Gathering data on a patient’s medical history
  • Going over medical test results
  • Advising patients on how to take care of their health
  • Answering patients’ questions on their own health and wellbeing
  • Prescribing medication and performing activities in line with patients’ needs

Types of Physician Jobs

The term “physician” encompasses a great variety of jobs and activities. Since there are, simply put, so many things that can go wrong with the human body, there is an almost equal number of specializations and jobs to handle them. 

Family and General Internist Physicians

Both general practitioner and family physician jobs include assessing and treating many conditions that we see happen on a daily level. Anything from broken bones to sinus infections, a career in either of these fields will have you working with the everyday problems everyone suffers from. Furthermore, both family practitioners and general internists treat a range of conditions that do not require surgical intervention.

Now, many of the general physician jobs out there don’t necessarily allow a physician to work with the same patients. However, a family practitioner has the opportunity to develop relationships with long-term, regular patients. Furthermore, as a general physician, you will either work with adults or children almost exclusively, while a family doctor cares for both the adults and the kids in a family.

General Pediatricians

General pediatrician jobs involve practicing medicine that specifically focuses on children. These doctors treat infectious diseases, minor injuries, and common illnesses found among younger people in general. 

Furthermore, general pediatricians will specialize in pediatric surgery, all while learning more and more about the conditions that affect younger patients.

Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Gynecologist and obstetrician jobs center on treating the female reproductive system, while also assisting with childbirth and pregnancy. Furthermore, they also focus on treating issues that affect women. These include issues such as breast cancer, the hormonal issues that come about from menopause, and hormonal disorders in general.

Now, as a doctor in this field, you can potentially focus only on the duties associated with most gynecologist jobs, stick with being an obstetrician, or you can do both. 


As a rule, anesthesiologists focus on administering the appropriate pain relief for their patients. As an anesthesiologist, you would specialize in administering anesthetics, drugs that are there to eliminate or significantly reduce a patient’s sensation of pain. The task is far more complex than it seems. Anesthesiologist jobs require you to adjust the level of anesthesia needed during a medical procedure, all while monitoring the patient’s body temperature, breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. 

However, as an anesthesiologist, you will also get some work done outside the operating room. This is one of the many duties of an ICU physician, where you will assist people who are suffering from chronic pain, as well as help women who are in labor or giving birth. 

Anesthesiology and ICU physician jobs involve working in tandem with surgeons and other physicians, consulting with them on the right treatments and procedures before and after surgery begins.

Sports Medicine Physicians

Like any other medical specialization, a sports medicine physician’s work is centered around the prevention of illnesses and injuries. However, they specialize in sports, caring for athletes and generally active individuals who take physical activity seriously. Sports medicine physician jobs allow for specialization, which might involve working with youths, for example, or you can rise up in the ranks and attain a position as prestigious as taking care of Olympic athletes.


Surgeons are essentially their own category. As a surgeon, you would be using surgical methods to treat injuries, diseases, and whatever issues your patients might have. This includes using a variety of instruments to correct deformities, repair bones, and handle tissue during an operation. In general, surgeon jobs also allow for a wide range of specialization, like plastic surgery, neurological surgery, or orthopedic surgery.

Work Environment

According to the data gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicians and surgeons made up around 756,800 of all the jobs in the United States in 2018. Now, what really needs to be noted is that there are many levels of variance among these MD jobs when it comes to their specializations and certain aspects of the work itself. 

Namely, while there are many categories and specializations, seven come out on top when it comes to the prevalence of these jobs. Of the above-noted number, 126,600 jobs are taken by family and general practitioners. Next, general internists make up 42,800. There are around 38,200 surgeons in the United States, according to BLS’s census. Next in line, there are 34,500 anesthesiology doctor jobs in the US. General pediatricians make up around 31,700 jobs, and psychiatrists, 28,600. Obstetricians and gynecologists take up 20,700 jobs. The remainder of this number is distributed among the many more uniquely specialized types of jobs physicians can hold.

Now, as far as actual locations, as a physician, you can work in hospitals, as a researcher in academia, in private practices, or for the government. You can pretty much choose what you want, irrelevant to your specialization (to a certain extent). Working as part of a group practice or for a larger organization is also an option.

It may come as no surprise that no matter where your physician job search leads you, you will end up with a job working with people on a regular basis. If you truly are of an introverted persuasion, focusing on research or academia can help you avoid interacting with people. You can also focus on becoming a solo practitioner and thus avoid group settings (at a price).

Injuries and Illnesses

While you shouldn’t expect any serious injuries to accompany any of the careers on our physician jobs list, it’s not a job that is completely bereft of physical issues. You will most likely be on your feet for long periods of time. Furthermore, working as a doctor in hospitals, and especially in intensive care units, means very long hours, and not everybody can take it. And of course, you will be surrounded by illness and disease everywhere you go. It’s part of your work, after all. 

Work Schedules

Note that most medical doctor jobs require you to work long, odd hours. When you’re on call, you might have to leave your home almost instantly to go to the hospital. Working nights, spending 10-, 12-, even 14-hour shifts on your feet is part and parcel of being a physician.

However, according to the relevant research, it should be noted that the overall physician job satisfaction levels are pretty high. The prestige, the salary, and the altruistic nature of the work itself might have something to do with that.

How to Become a Physician

There’s good reason working as a doctor is so popular and well respected. There’s the fact that you are involved, directly, in helping people overcome diseases, not to mention the fact that you help save lives. The physician job outlook is pretty good, in terms of both employment rates and the money involved. Of course, the catch here is that it’s not easy to become one.

You will need a bachelor’s degree, as well as four years in medical school, and another three to seven years to get your specialty in order via internships and residency programs.

Qualities You Need to Have

Now, most doctor jobs require certain traits and qualities. If you want to achieve a good and successful career, you need the following skills:

  • Patience and empathy
  • Stamina and endurance
  • Communication and organization
  • The ability to remain detail oriented
  • Problem solving
  • Quick thinking

Required Education

As a doctor, lives hinge on your knowledge, your skills, and your hard work—the duties of a doctor are no joke. Because of this, you will need a serious, extensive education if you want to become a doctor. 

While you don’t need to major in a specific subject in your undergrad, most often future doctors get an undergraduate degree in biology, chemistry, math, or English. In addition, students will try to get some volunteer work in healthcare under their belts. However, if you’re interested in non-clinical physician jobs, you might consider some degrees in business administration or healthcare.

Then, you need to get into medical school. These are highly competitive, and submitting transcripts, MCAT scores, and letters of recommendation are a must. You can also find a school that provides a combination of undergraduate and medical school programs. These can last for six to eight years.

Your first two years of medical school are about laws, psychology, medical ethics, and generally, lots of theory. Of course, you will get to learn some of the practical skills needed to perform standard doctor work, like examining patients and diagnosing illnesses. 

In your last two years of education, you will get much more practical work and will be supervised by veteran teachers and doctors in a real medical environment.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations 

First of all, all states require their surgeons and doctors to get licensed. The exact requirements will vary from state to state. Of course, the very first thing you need is to graduate from an accredited medical school, as well as get your residency training over with. 

All doctor jobs require you to pass a standardized national license exam (either the USMLE or the COMLEX-USA). 

As far as certificates are concerned, these are not necessary if you want to actually become a surgeon or a physician. However, they might help you get a job, and they’ll give you more options and choices later on.

If you want to become board certified and focus on a specialty, you need to pass the relevant specialty certification exams. You will need to access the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Board of Physician Specialties, or the American Osteopathic Association.


When it comes to most physician jobs, you have probably already noticed that salaries for physicians and surgeons are incredibly high. In fact, they all cover a median wage of $208,000 per year. Now, the BLS does not specify the different wages between various specialties. However, there is data on some professions within this field.

For example, if you’re looking for those in the highest paying doctor jobs, you will certainly encounter anesthesiologists, who make a median wage of $267,020. Then, you have surgeons at $255,110. Psychiatrists make around $220,380 per year, while the lowest wage comes from pediatricians, who generally earn a rate of $183,240.

Job Outlook

The future is pretty bright. With a projected growth of 7% over the following 10 years, the doctor job outlook is impressive—faster than that of most professions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the key factors that will help lead to this increase is the fact that the population is aging, living longer and longer lives. The ratio between the number of young and old people living in this country is changing in favor of the latter. This means there will be more chronic illnesses, and consumers will want more care, therapies, tests, and diagnostic work. Essentially, more people will need more care.

On the other hand, even the best doctor jobs might be subject to the changes and issues that come about from the advancement of technology, better remote monitoring, and more automation. Essentially, this might be the only factor that could lead to a small reduction in the number of medical jobs. Still, the BLS has certainly accounted for this in its 7% growth projection.

Job Prospects

As far as the available jobs for physicians are concerned, you can expect employment basically the moment you graduate. Of course, the choice of where you have your residency can be a bit more problematic. Namely, if you want to work in a rural location or make a difference in a low-income area, you won’t have much trouble finding work there. However, hospitals with greater prestige or comfort might be more difficult to get into.

You can also choose between private practice and federal work. Namely, VA physician jobs are fully managed by the federal government, making you a direct government employee (and the recipient of all the benefits this entails).

The BLS also notes that cardiology and radiology specialists in particular will have excellent employment prospects. A doctor’s responsibilities will, according to the relevant demographic data on the aging population, center more than ever on heart disease and cancer treatment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest paying job for a doctor?

While most physician careers pay well, the highest paying jobs all require you to specialize. Anesthesiologists make the most money, at a median annual salary of $267,020. Then, oral and maxillofacial surgeons make $242,370 per year, while obstetricians and gynecologists make $238,320. 

What is the average salary for a physician?

According to the bureau of labor statistics, the median pay for ODs and MDs amounts to $208,000 per year.

How do I get a job as a doctor?

First of all, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree, allowing you to get into medical school. However, no specific major is really required, although you will have to complete undergraduate courses in biology, physics, chemistry, and math. 

Then, you must get into medical school and earn your medical degree. Once you finish medical school, you’ll need to complete a residency program, which allows you to work with patients on a regular basis.

Finally, most advanced physician jobs require certifications and licensures to advance in your career. These extra certifications also serve to expand your employment opportunities, so they’re worth your consideration.