team of physicians and medical professionals meeting to discuss patient cases

A Guide to Medical Career Paths and Types of Physician Jobs

Medical and physician careers are always in high demand due to ever-growing health needs in the U.S. and around the world. Exploring various medical career paths can help you gain a better understanding of the many different types of physicians out there so you can enter into a field in which you’re truly interested and feel passionate about.

Here’s more about the role of a physician, types of physicians, and how to become a physician to help you get started on your ideal career path.


What Does a Physician Do?

A physician is responsible for preventing, diagnosing, and treating various diseases and health conditions with the goal of improving a patient’s overall health and quality of life. Physicians perform a wide range of tasks to manage their patients’ health, including reviewing medical history, ordering lab tests, administering treatments, and coordinating care with other physicians the patient may be seeing.

On top of caring for patients, physicians commonly oversee and manage a team of nurses, medical assistants, and receptionists who work in their clinics and private practices.


smiling physician meeting with a patient


Types of Physicians

Physicians can be general practitioners, also known as primary care physicians, or specialists who have expertise in a particular branch of medicine. 

General practitioners provide routine health care services such as annual physical exams and immunizations and are trained to diagnose and treat general illnesses. Specialist physicians diagnose and treat specific illnesses and conditions related to their fields of expertise, such as cardiology, rheumatology, and oncology. General practitioners will usually refer patients to a specialist when a specific condition requires further treatment and attention.


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Exploring Different Medical Career Paths

Many people who choose to embark on a medical career already have an idea of the type of work they want to perform or the specialty they want to study. If you know you want a job in the medical industry but aren’t exactly sure what you want to do, your next step is to explore different medical career paths to discover where your interests lie. 

Stay on top of news and trends in the medical industry, and your desired specialty field if you’ve already chosen one. Also, determine which skills you already have that would make you an asset in any particular medical field or physician career. For instance, if you enjoy and get along great with children, consider a position in the pediatrics field.


pediatrician pretending to check the heartbeat of her patient's teddy bear


How to Become a Physician

Physician training and education usually last between 7 and 15 years. Students who want to become physicians take a number of prerequisite courses and the Medical College Admission Test, also known as the MCAT. Most students attend medical school programs for an average of four years, then receive between three and seven years of residency training with other health practitioners while being supervised by attending physicians. 

During residency training, students are exposed to a variety of care settings such as hospitals, community clinics, and Veterans Affairs facilities. Following the completion of residency, students become physicians, earn board certification in their desired specialty, and obtain a state license that allows them to practice medicine. Most medical schools will guide students through the education process from beginning to end until they become board certified physicians.


Consider browsing the latest available physician careers in your area to gain a better idea of the types of specialty fields that need healthcare workers, and plan your medical career path accordingly. 

By iHire | February 25, 2020
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