There are many different types of doctors, with about fifty areas of expertise (specialties). Generally speaking, the two main types are general practitioners and hospital doctors. In hospitals some of the specialties are:
- Accidents and emergencies
- Heart (cardiology)
- Cancer (oncology)
The day-to-day task and responsibilities of a physician may vary depending on the type of physician he or she is.
For many physicians, contact with patients is an essential part of their role. Apart from treatment, they provide the patient with information, advice, support and comfort.
However, while GPs see many patients throughout the day, research physicians may have very little, if any, contact with the patient.
Most physicians generally share similar methods and approaches. A doctor is a bit like a detective: he has to collect numerous tests in order to make a diagnosis.
They have to examine the patient, notice the symptoms, check their diagnosis, decide the best mode of treatment (if any), and then carefully monitor the patient’s progress.
Doctors usually begin by talking to the patient about their symptoms, such as where they have been in pain and how long it has been. They also review and update their notes on the patient’s medical history.
They then physically examine the patient, for example, taking his blood pressure and listening to his heart, for which they will use various instruments and equipment.
Doctors are often members of a team, consisting of nurses, radiologists, biomedical scientists, and physicists, among others.
In the diagnosis phase, the doctor may depend on an X-ray or the result of a blood test, for example.
After making the diagnosis, the doctor must decide what is the best treatment. Sometimes it will be enough to advise the patient, for example, to rest for a few days, or you may prescribe a medicine for the patient to buy at a pharmacy.
In the case of serious illnesses, the doctor may have to refer the patient to a specialist or inform the patient that an operation or treatment, such as radiation therapy, will need to be performed.
Again, in the treatment planning stage, doctors are part of a large team. For example, they work closely with medical specialists such as psychiatrists and with other healthcare professionals such as nurses, medical physicists, and radiology technicians.
The daily work of the doctor will depend on the type of doctor he is and his role. General practitioners often spend the day visiting a list of patients, most of whom will have relatively minor health problems. On the other hand, instead, a surgeon can spend hours performing a surgical operation.
There are many doctors who work long hours and hours outside the normal and have on-call hours in case of emergencies.
Aside from general medicine and hospitals, physicians are also found in fields such as education (lecturing at universities, for example), full-time research, medical journalism, and the military.