Physicians examine patients, obtain medical histories, and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They diagnose illnesses, and prescribe and administer treatment for people suffering from injury or disease. Physicians counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive health care.
Physicians may practice general medicine or focus on one of more than 30 specialty areas. Pediatricians, general and family practitioners, and general internists are often called primary care physicians since they are the first health professionals patients usually consult. Other physicians such as orthopaedics (specialize in skelatal structure) and obstetricians (specialize in birthing) specialize in a specific area.
Physicians receiving MD degrees are Doctors of Medicine. Those receiving DO degrees are Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine.
Physicians typically complete four years of undergraduate school and four years at an accredited medical school, followed by at least three of paid on-the-job training known as residency. Depending on specialization, residency may last up to eight years. Physicians also study throughout their careers to keep up with medical advances. All physicians apply for state licensure (a requirement for residency as well) and must pass a standard examination. Certification is granted by the American Board of Medical Specialists or the American Osteopathic Association. To be licensed, a person must be a graduate from an accredited college of medicine, have at least one year of graduate medical education, and pass an exam.
- University of Alabama at Birmingham – School of Medicine
- University of South Alabama – College of Medicine