The job description of a physician typically includes the tasks of examining patients, updating charts, ordering tests and evaluating test results. Physicians can specialize in many different fields, such as surgery or gynecology, which add additional duties to their job descriptions.
Physicians are responsible for diagnosing and treating illnesses and injuries. They meet with patients to evaluate each patient's health, recommend diagnostic tests and provide counsel on general health care concerns such as nutrition and hygiene. Physicians also interpret test results, prescribe medication and recommend treatment plans for their patients.
In the United States, as of October 2015, those who want to become a physician are required to complete four years of undergraduate studies, four years of medical school and between three to eight years of internship and residency programs. Physicians may practice medicine as general practitioners, or specialize in a narrower field. Common specialties for physicians include internal medicine, gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry and surgery. Surgeons can further specialize in fields such as heart surgery or brain surgery.
Most physicians work in private offices, clinics or hospitals. In 2012, there were over 691,000 jobs held by physicians and surgeons. Job growth for physicians is expected to be at 18 percent from 2012 to 2022, a rate that exceeds the average for all jobs. The average annual salary for a family practitioner in the United States is $195,000 while that of a specialized physician is $284,000.