Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat illnesses and promote general wellness in their patients. They have arguably one of the most important roles in our society.
There are two types of physicians - the Doctor of Medicine (MD) and the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). Both physicians have similar functions, but DOs emphasize preventive medicine, holistic care, and the musculoskeletal system. DOs are more likely to practice in rural areas and small towns; MDs typically work in urban areas, near hospitals.
There are many specialties in medicine (there are 24 official medical boards):
- Anesthesiologists - administer anesthetics during surgery and monitor patient's vital signs
- Family and general practitioners - responsible for primary patient care over the long term
- General internists - diagnose diseases and injuries and provide non-surgical treatment
- General pediatricians - provide care from a child's birth through early adulthood
- Ob/Gyn - Obstetricians and gynecologists specialize in women's health and childbirth
- Psychiatrists - specialize in mental health
- Surgeons - specialize in the treatment of injuries, disease, and deformities through operative procedures
Many other specialties exist, including gastroenterologists, radiologists, and cardiologists.
Most physicians and specialists work in clinics or private practices. Increasingly, doctors work in a group setting (several doctors in one place), which lets them purchase expensive equipment and hire staff (secretaries, interns, and nurses). One out of six physicians, however, owns their own practice. Surgeons and anesthesiologists usually work in hospitals or outpatient clinics. Doctors often shuttle back and forth between hospitals, their practice, and other care facilities. Most doctors work long hours.