Medical Career Descriptions
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You may find our medical career descriptions and medical career information helpful in making a decision about whether to pursue one of the many medical careers available.

medical career descriptionsWhat mother doesn't aspire for her child to grow up to be a doctor? The work pays exceedingly well, it's glamorous (just look at those many medical shows on TV!), and you get to make a significant difference in peoples' lives.

On the other hand, you have to go to school for many years, which costs a small fortune. It's also darn hard work during the school and internship/residency years... many aspiring doctors hardly sleep during those years. And the work after you finally achieve your MD is still grueling.

So, you need to consider both the pros and cons when you're trying to make the right decision on pursuing medical careers. Take time to read through the medical career descriptions and medical career information we've pulled together for you here. And remember, a medical career is not for everyone. Is it right for you?

The following medical career descriptions section is adapted from a publication of the US Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics (Occupational Outlook Handbook,
2006-07 Edition

What It's Like to Be a Doctor

As a point of reference, when we refer to medical careers, we're mostly talking about doctors. Here are some key points to keep in mind before we get into the specific medical career descriptions...

  • Many physicians and surgeons work long, irregular hours; over one-third of full-time physicians worked 60 or more hours a week in 2004.

  • Formal education and training requirements are among the most demanding of any occupation, but earnings are among the highest.

  • Job opportunities should be very good, particularly in rural and low-income areas.

  • New physicians are much less likely to enter solo practice and more likely to work as salaried employees of group medical practices, clinics, hospitals, or health networks.

Physicians diagnose illnesses and prescribe and administer treatment for people suffering from injury or disease. Physicians examine patients, obtain medical histories, and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive health care.

There are two types of physicians: M.D., which is short for Doctor of Medicine, and D.O., which is short for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.

M.D.s also are known as allopathic physicians. While both M.D.s and D.O.s may use all accepted methods of treatment, including drugs and surgery, D.O.s place special emphasis on the body's musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine, and holistic patient care.

D.O.s are more likely than M.D.s to be primary care specialists although they can be found in all specialties. About half of D.O.s practice general or family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics.

Specialty Medical Career Descriptions

A doctor's career can be specialized... anesthesiology, family and general medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery.

Here are some specific types of medical career descriptions...

Anesthesiologists. Anesthesiologists focus on the care of surgical patients and pain relief. Like other physicians, they evaluate and treat patients and direct the efforts of those on their staffs.

Anesthesiologists confer with other physicians and surgeons about appropriate treatments and procedures before, during, and after operations. These critical care specialists are responsible for maintenance of the patient’s vital life functions—heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, breathing—through continual monitoring and assessment during surgery.

They often work outside of the operating room, providing pain relief in the intensive care unit, during labor and delivery, and for those who suffer from chronic pain.

Family and general practitioners. Family and general practitioners are often the first point of contact for people seeking health care, acting as the traditional family doctor. They assess and treat a wide range of conditions, ailments, and injuries, from sinus and respiratory infections to broken bones and scrapes.

Family and general practitioners typically have a patient base of regular, long-term visitors. Patients with more serious conditions are referred to specialists or other health care facilities for more intensive care.

General internists. General internists diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment for diseases and injuries of internal organ systems. They provide care mainly for adults who have a wide range of problems associated with the internal organs, such as the stomach, kidneys, liver, and digestive tract.

Internists use a variety of diagnostic techniques to treat patients through medication or hospitalization. Like general practitioners, general internists are commonly looked upon as primary care specialists.

They have patients referred to them by other specialists, in turn referring patients to those and yet other specialists when more complex care is required.

But that's not it... here are a few more medical career descriptions...

General pediatricians career descriptions. Providing care from birth to early adulthood, pediatricians are concerned with the health of infants, children, and teenagers. They specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of ailments specific to young people and track their patients’ growth to adulthood.

Like most physicians, pediatricians work with different health care workers, such as nurses and other physicians, to assess and treat children with various ailments, such as muscular dystrophy.

Most of the work of pediatricians, however, involves treating day-to-day illnesses that are common to children—minor injuries, infectious diseases, and immunizations—much as a general practitioner treats adults.

Some pediatricians specialize in serious medical conditions and pediatric surgery, treating autoimmune disorders or serious chronic ailments.

Obstetricians and gynecologists medical career descriptions. Obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs) are specialists whose focus is women’s health. They are responsible for general medical care for women, but also provide care related to pregnancy and the reproductive system.

Like general practitioners, OB/GYNs are concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of general health problems, but they focus on ailments specific to the female anatomy, such as breast and cervical cancer, urinary tract and pelvic disorders, and hormonal disorders.

OB/GYNs also specialize in childbirth, treating and counseling women throughout their pregnancy, from giving prenatal diagnoses to delivery and postpartum care. Ob/gyns track the health of, and treat, both mother and fetus as the pregnancy progresses.

Psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are the primary caregivers in the area of mental health. They assess and treat mental illnesses through a combination of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, hospitalization, and medication.

Psychotherapy involves regular discussions with patients about their problems; the psychiatrist helps them find solutions through changes in their behavioral patterns, the exploration of their past experiences, and group and family therapy sessions.

Psychoanalysis involves long-term psychotherapy and counseling for patients. In many cases, medications are administered to correct chemical imbalances that may be causing emotional problems.

Psychiatrists may also administer electroconvulsive therapy to those of their patients who do not respond to, or who cannot take, medications.

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