Physician Career

physician-500Physicians treat patients, diagnose illnesses and provide treatment along with medications. They often work long hours. In addition, the training requirements to become a doctor are demanding. An advantage of the long hours and years of education are the high salaries. Physicians earn more than most any other profession.

In addition to the high pay, a career as a physician is found to be highly rewarding by many. There is also the opportunity to specialize and become an expert in a specific area of medicine.

Physician Snapshot

Physicians frequently work in a hospital setting. Some have their own practice or work in a small practice. They spend most of their day standing and walking along with talking to patients.

The following provides you with further details on a career as a physician (statistics from Bureau of Labor Statistics and Onet Online):


is the average for physicians practicing primary care.


increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.


of Family and General Practitioners have a Doctoral degree.

Physician Education

Physicians must receive a Bachelor’s degree and attend an accredited medical school. Upon graduating, they must gain experience as an intern and later complete their residency. All U.S. states require physicians to be licensed.

Physician Job Duties

Physicians treat people suffering from illness and injuries. They perform diagnosis, administer treatments, review tests, and prescribe medicines. Physicians specialize in one or more areas of medicine. Common specialties include pediatrics, gynecology, psychiatry, surgery, and internal medicine.

Physician Salaries

Physicians are paid the highest salaries of virtually any other occupation. The median pay for physicians practicing primary care is $241,273. Those practicing in a specialty receive much higher salaries, with the average specialist receiving a salary of $411,852 per year. Salaries are reported from the Medical Group Management Association.

Physician Job Outlook

According to the, employment for physicians is expected to increase by 14% between 2014 and 2024 which is much faster than the average occupation. This increase is due to the overall growth of the population as well as the growth of the aging population.

Physician Career Skill Set

Review the following table outlining typical work activities, skills, and abilities of physicians.

Physician Skill Set:Required Abilities:Tools Used by Physicians:
•Critical Thinking
•Active Listening
•Judgement & Decision Making
•Reading Comprehension

•Problem Sensitivity
•Oral Expression
•Oral Comprehension
•Inductive Reasoning
•Written Comprehension
•Deductive Reasoning
•Written Expression

•Medical oxygen/resuscitation masks
•Surgical claps & accessories

Physician Career Insights

The following physicians were kind enough to send in interviews outlining their perspective on the profession.  Reviewing these interviews will allow you to gain valuable insights on a career as a physician.

Dr. Debra Jaliman | Dermatologist,

Dr. Debra Jaliman  | Dermatologist,
Dermatologist for 27 years

Why did you decide to become a dermatologist?

I had skin problems as a child and spent a lot of time with my dermatologist. I found it to be very interesting and decided to pursue it as a career.

How did you get into a career in dermatology?

I got a BA in Genetics and Bioethics then an MD (4 years) of medical school. Then a 1 year internship in internal medicine and 3 year residency in dermatology. Then I took my boards and I’m board certified.

What do you like best about being a dermatologist?

I like working with people. You get to meet people from all walks of life and to get to know them and their families well. It’s very visual. You also get to solve challenging problems like a detective. I get to do surgery and work with my hands. I’m always learning something new ( new technology like new lasers). I work with the media and do interviews and TV appearances.

What skills are most important for dermatologists?

Good manual dexterity, good problem solving skills, good visual recognition and people skills.

What is the most challenging thing about being a dermatologist?
It is challenging dealing with difficult patients.

Do you have any advice for those attending school or pursuing a career in dermatology?

My advice would be to spend time with a dermatologist or at a hospital dermatology program before investing so much time to make certain it’s something you are really interested in.

Dr. Michael S. Schwartz, M.D., M.B.A. | Orthopedic Surgeon,

Dr. Michael S. Schwartz, M.D., M.B.A. | Orthopedic Surgeon,
Orthopedic Surgeon for 20 years

Why did you decide to become an orthopedic surgeon?

  • Didn’t like the prospect of a desk job
  • Into science and biology growing up – and gravitated towards the idea of helping people
  • Very active growing up, and hurt often. Looked up to the Orthopedic doctors that were treating me
  • Thought orthopedic physicians had the best toys, and the most technological advancements were happening in orthopedic surgery

How did you get into a career as an orthopedic surgeon?
Undergraduate: Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education of the City University of New York

  • Medical School: State University of New York at buffalo school of Medicine
  • Surgery internship: St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York
  • Surgery Residency: New York Medical College and The State university of New York at Stony Brook – Chief Resident in final year
  • Fellowship: Completed fellowship in arthroscopy and sports medicine at Associated Orthopedics and Sports Medicine (Now OrthoTexas)
  • Masters: Business Administration Texas Tech

What do you like best about being an orthopedic surgeon?

  • The people (patients) – watching people recover from life changing injuries and having a major role in this recovery
  • Surgery – The ability to use my hands. The profession still relies solely on the skill set of the surgeon

What skills are most important for a career in orthopedic surgery?

  • DECISION MAKING – the ability to be confident in the diagnosis, judgment and direction of treatment for a patient is a key skill set.
  • Training – As you are growing in this profession it is important that you continued to be an environment that supports mentoring, and exposure to hear and see how situations are being dealt with as it relates to patient care

What is the most challenging thing about being an orthopedic surgeon?

The continued changing landscape of the “Business” of healthcare.

Do you have any advice for those attending school or pursuing a career as an orthopedic surgeon?

Know what you’re getting into. Have realistic expectations on what the healthcare environment is like now. Ask questions to active practicing physicians to learn about new skill sets you may have to bring to the table to have a successful practice. Just knowing biology is not going to be enough; complimenting medical education with a general business education is strongly suggested.

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