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"Medical Officer" redirects here. Physician_sentence_0

For the title used in India, see Medical Officer (AYUSH). Physician_sentence_1

For the senior government official of a health department, see Medical Officer for Health. Physician_sentence_2

Not to be confused with physicist, a scientist who studies or researches physics. Physician_sentence_3


NamesPhysician_header_cell_0_1_0 Physician, medical practitioner, medical doctor or simply doctorPhysician_cell_0_1_1
Occupation typePhysician_header_cell_0_2_0 ProfessionalPhysician_cell_0_2_1
Activity sectorsPhysician_header_cell_0_3_0 Medicine, health carePhysician_cell_0_3_1
CompetenciesPhysician_header_cell_0_5_0 The ethics, art and science of medicine, analytical skills, and critical thinkingPhysician_cell_0_5_1
Education requiredPhysician_header_cell_0_6_0 MBBS, MD, MDCM, DO or DPMPhysician_cell_0_6_1
Fields of


Clinics, hospitalsPhysician_cell_0_7_1
Related jobsPhysician_header_cell_0_8_0 General practitioner

Family physician Surgeon Specialist physicianPhysician_cell_0_8_1

A physician (American English), medical practitioner (Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a professional who practises medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining, or restoring health through the study, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. Physician_sentence_4

Physicians may focus their practice on certain disease categories, types of patients, and methods of treatment—known as specialities—or they may assume responsibility for the provision of continuing and comprehensive medical care to individuals, families, and communities—known as general practice. Physician_sentence_5

Medical practice properly requires both a detailed knowledge of the academic disciplines, such as anatomy and physiology, underlying diseases and their treatment—the science of medicine—and also a decent competence in its applied practice—the art or craft of medicine. Physician_sentence_6

Both the role of the physician and the meaning of the word itself vary around the world. Physician_sentence_7

Degrees and other qualifications vary widely, but there are some common elements, such as medical ethics requiring that physicians show consideration, compassion, and benevolence for their patients. Physician_sentence_8

Modern meanings Physician_section_0

Specialist in internal medicine Physician_section_1

Main article: Internal medicine Physician_sentence_9

Around the world the term physician refers to a specialist in internal medicine or one of its many sub-specialties (especially as opposed to a specialist in surgery). Physician_sentence_10

This meaning of physician conveys a sense of expertise in treatment by drugs or medications, rather than by the procedures of surgeons. Physician_sentence_11

This term is at least nine hundred years old in English: physicians and surgeons were once members of separate professions, and traditionally were rivals. Physician_sentence_12

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, gives a Middle English quotation making this contrast, from as early as 1400: "O Lord, whi is it so greet difference betwixe a cirugian and a physician." Physician_sentence_13

Henry VIII granted a charter to the London Royal College of Physicians in 1518. Physician_sentence_14

It was not until 1540 that he granted the Company of Barber-Surgeons (ancestor of the Royal College of Surgeons) its separate charter. Physician_sentence_15

In the same year, the English monarch established the Regius Professorship of Physic at the University of Cambridge. Physician_sentence_16

Newer universities would probably describe such an academic as a professor of internal medicine. Physician_sentence_17

Hence, in the 16th century, physic meant roughly what internal medicine does now. Physician_sentence_18

Currently, a specialist physician in the United States may be described as an internist. Physician_sentence_19

Another term, hospitalist, was introduced in 1996, to describe US specialists in internal medicine who work largely or exclusively in hospitals. Physician_sentence_20

Such 'hospitalists' now make up about 19% of all US general internists, who are often called general physicians in Commonwealth countries. Physician_sentence_21

This original use, as distinct from surgeon, is common in most of the world including the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries (such as Australia, Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe), as well as in places as diverse as Brazil, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Ireland, and Taiwan. Physician_sentence_22

In such places, the more general English terms doctor or medical practitioner are prevalent, describing any practitioner of medicine (whom an American would likely call a physician, in the broad sense). Physician_sentence_23

In Commonwealth countries, specialist pediatricians and geriatricians are also described as specialist physicians who have sub-specialized by age of patient rather than by organ system. Physician_sentence_24

Physician and surgeon Physician_section_2

Around the world, the combined term "physician and surgeon" is used to describe either a general practitioner or any medical practitioner irrespective of specialty. Physician_sentence_25

This usage still shows the original meaning of physician and preserves the old difference between a physician, as a practitioner of physic, and a surgeon. Physician_sentence_26

The term may be used by state medical boards in the United States, and by equivalent bodies in Canadian provinces, to describe any medical practitioner. Physician_sentence_27

North America Physician_section_3

Further information: Physicians in the United States and Physicians in Canada Physician_sentence_28

In modern English, the term physician is used in two main ways, with relatively broad and narrow meanings respectively. Physician_sentence_29

This is the result of history and is often confusing. Physician_sentence_30

These meanings and variations are explained below. Physician_sentence_31

In the United States and Canada, the term physician describes all medical practitioners holding a professional medical degree. Physician_sentence_32

The American Medical Association, established in 1847, as well as the American Osteopathic Association, founded in 1897, both currently use the term physician to describe members. Physician_sentence_33

However, the American College of Physicians, established in 1915, does not: its title uses physician in its original sense. Physician_sentence_34

American physicians Physician_section_4

The vast majority of physicians trained in the United States have a Doctor of Medicine degree, and use the initials M.D. Physician_sentence_35

A smaller number attend Osteopathic schools and have a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree and use the initials D.O. Physician_sentence_36

After completion of medical school, physicians complete a residency in the specialty in which they will practice. Physician_sentence_37

Subspecialties require the completion of a fellowship after residency. Physician_sentence_38

All boards of certification now require that physicians demonstrate, by examination, continuing mastery of the core knowledge and skills for a chosen specialty. Physician_sentence_39

Recertification varies by particular specialty between every seven and every ten years. Physician_sentence_40

Primary care Physician_section_5

Primary care physicians guide patients in preventing disease and detecting health problems early while they're still treatable. Physician_sentence_41

They are divided into two types: family medicine doctors and internal medicine doctors. Physician_sentence_42

Family doctors, or family physicians, are trained to care for patients of any age, while internists are trained to care for adults. Physician_sentence_43

Family doctors receive training in a variety of care and are therefore also referred to as general practitioners. Physician_sentence_44

Family medicine grew out of the general practitioner movement of the 1960s in response to the growing specialization in medicine that was seen as threatening to the doctor-patient relationship and continuity of care. Physician_sentence_45

Podiatric physicians Physician_section_6

Also in the United States, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) defines podiatrists as physicians and surgeons that fall under the department of surgery in hospitals. Physician_sentence_46

They undergo training with the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree. Physician_sentence_47

In the US, podiatrist are required to complete three to four years surgical residency upon graduating from DPM degree. Physician_sentence_48

After residency, one to two years of fellowship programs are available in plastic surgery, foot and ankle reconstructive surgery, sports medicine, and wound care. Physician_sentence_49

This degree is also available at one Canadian university, namely the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Physician_sentence_50

Students are typically required to complete an internship in New York prior to the obtention of their professional degree. Physician_sentence_51

Shortage Physician_section_7

Main article: Physician supply Physician_sentence_52

Many countries in the developing world have the problem of too few physicians. Physician_sentence_53

In 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges warned that the US will face a doctor shortage of as many as 90,000 by 2025. Physician_sentence_54

Social role and world view Physician_section_8

Main articles: Medical anthropology and History of medicine Physician_sentence_55

Biomedicine Physician_section_9

Within Western culture and over recent centuries, medicine has become increasingly based on scientific reductionism and materialism. Physician_sentence_56

This style of medicine is now dominant throughout the industrialized world, and is often termed biomedicine by medical anthropologists. Physician_sentence_57

Biomedicine "formulates the human body and disease in a culturally distinctive pattern", and is a world view learnt by medical students. Physician_sentence_58

Within this tradition, the medical model is a term for the complete "set of procedures in which all doctors are trained", including mental attitudes. Physician_sentence_59

A particularly clear expression of this world view, currently dominant among conventional physicians, is evidence-based medicine. Physician_sentence_60

Within conventional medicine, most physicians still pay heed to their ancient traditions: Physician_sentence_61

In this Western tradition, physicians are considered to be members of a learned profession, and enjoy high social status, often combined with expectations of a high and stable income and job security. Physician_sentence_62

However, medical practitioners often work long and inflexible hours, with shifts at unsociable times. Physician_sentence_63

Their high status is partly from their extensive training requirements, and also because of their occupation's special ethical and legal duties. Physician_sentence_64

The term traditionally used by physicians to describe a person seeking their help is the word patient (although one who visits a physician for a routine check-up may also be so described). Physician_sentence_65

This word is an ancient reminder of medical duty, as it originally meant 'one who suffers'. Physician_sentence_66

The English noun comes from the Latin word patiens, the present participle of the deponent verb, , meaning 'I am suffering', and akin to the Greek verb πάσχειν (romanized: paschein, lit. Physician_sentence_67

to suffer) and its cognate noun (, suffering). Physician_sentence_68

Physicians in the original, narrow sense (specialist physicians or internists, see above) are commonly members or fellows of professional organizations, such as the American College of Physicians or the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom, and such hard-won membership is itself a mark of status. Physician_sentence_69

Alternative medicine Physician_section_10

While contemporary biomedicine has distanced itself from its ancient roots in religion and magic, many forms of traditional medicine and alternative medicine continue to espouse vitalism in various guises: "As long as life had its own secret properties, it was possible to have sciences and medicines based on those properties". Physician_sentence_70

The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) classifies complementary and alternative medicine therapies into five categories or domains, including: alternative medical systems, or complete systems of therapy and practice; mind-body interventions, or techniques designed to facilitate the mind's effect on bodily functions and symptoms; biologically based systems including herbalism; and manipulative and body-based methods such as chiropractic and massage therapy. Physician_sentence_71

In considering these alternate traditions that differ from biomedicine (see above), medical anthropologists emphasize that all ways of thinking about health and disease have a significant cultural content, including conventional western medicine. Physician_sentence_72

Ayurveda, Unani medicine, and homeopathy are popular types of alternative medicine. Physician_sentence_73

They are included in national systems of medicine in countries such as India. Physician_sentence_74

In general, the practitioners of this medicine in these countries are referred to as Vaidya, Hakim and homeopathic doctor/homeopath/homeopathic physician, respectively. Physician_sentence_75

Physicians' own health Physician_section_11

Some commentators have argued that physicians have duties to serve as role models for the general public in matters of health, for example by not smoking cigarettes. Physician_sentence_76

Indeed, in most western nations relatively few physicians smoke, and their professional knowledge does appear to have a beneficial effect on their health and lifestyle. Physician_sentence_77

According to a study of male physicians, life expectancy is slightly higher for physicians (73 years for white and 69 years for black) than lawyers or many other highly educated professionals. Physician_sentence_78

Causes of death which are less likely to occur in physicians than the general population include respiratory disease (including pneumonia, pneumoconioses, COPD, but excluding emphysema and other chronic airway obstruction), alcohol-related deaths, rectosigmoid and anal cancers, and bacterial diseases. Physician_sentence_79

Physicians do experience exposure to occupational hazards, and there is a well-known aphorism that "doctors make the worst patients". Physician_sentence_80

Causes of death that are shown to be higher in the physician population include suicide among doctors and self-inflicted injury, drug-related causes, traffic accidents, and cerebrovascular and ischaemic heart disease. Physician_sentence_81

Physicians are also prone to occupational burnout. Physician_sentence_82

This manifests as a long-term stress reaction characterized by poorer quality of care towards patients, emotional exhaustion, a feeling of decreased personal achievement, and others. Physician_sentence_83

A study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that time pressure was the greatest cause of burnout; a survey from the American Medical Association reported that more than half of all respondents chose "too many bureaucratic tasks" as the leading cause of burnout. Physician_sentence_84

Education and training Physician_section_12

Main article: Medical education Physician_sentence_85

Medical education and career pathways for doctors vary considerably across the world. Physician_sentence_86

All medical practitioners Physician_section_13

In all developed countries, entry-level medical education programs are tertiary-level courses, undertaken at a medical school attached to a university. Physician_sentence_87

Depending on jurisdiction and university, entry may follow directly from secondary school or require pre-requisite undergraduate education. Physician_sentence_88

The former commonly takes five or six years to complete. Physician_sentence_89

Programs that require previous undergraduate education (typically a three- or four-year degree, often in science) are usually four or five years in length. Physician_sentence_90

Hence, gaining a basic medical degree may typically take from five to eight years, depending on jurisdiction and university. Physician_sentence_91

Following the completion of entry-level training, newly graduated medical practitioners are often required to undertake a period of supervised practice before full registration is granted, typically one or two years. Physician_sentence_92

This may be referred to as an "internship", as the "foundation" years in the UK, or as "conditional registration". Physician_sentence_93

Some jurisdictions, including the United States, require residencies for practice. Physician_sentence_94

Medical practitioners hold a medical degree specific to the university from which they graduated. Physician_sentence_95

This degree qualifies the medical practitioner to become licensed or registered under the laws of that particular country, and sometimes of several countries, subject to requirements for an internship or conditional registration. Physician_sentence_96

Specialists in internal medicine Physician_section_14

Specialty training is begun immediately following completion of entry-level training, or even before. Physician_sentence_97

In other jurisdictions, junior medical doctors must undertake generalist (un-streamed) training for one or more years before commencing specialization. Physician_sentence_98

Hence, depending on the jurisdiction, a specialist physician (internist) often does not achieve recognition as a specialist until twelve or more years after commencing basic medical training—five to eight years at university to obtain a basic medical qualification, and up to another nine years to become a specialist. Physician_sentence_99

Regulation Physician_section_15

In most jurisdictions, physicians (in either sense of the word) need government permission to practice. Physician_sentence_100

Such permission is intended to promote public safety, and often to protect government spending, as medical care is commonly subsidized by national governments. Physician_sentence_101

In some jurisdictions such as in Singapore, it is common for physicians to inflate their qualifications with the title "Dr" in correspondence or namecards, even if their qualifications are limited to a basic (e.g., bachelor level) degree. Physician_sentence_102

In other countries such as Germany, only physicians holding an academic doctorate may call themselves doctor – on the other hand, the European Research Council has decided that the German medical doctorate does not meet the international standards of a PhD research degree. Physician_sentence_103

All medical practitioners Physician_section_16

Among the English-speaking countries, this process is known either as licensure as in the United States, or as registration in the United Kingdom, other Commonwealth countries, and Ireland. Physician_sentence_104

Synonyms in use elsewhere include colegiación in Spain, ishi menkyo in Japan, autorisasjon in Norway, Approbation in Germany, and άδεια εργασίας in Greece. Physician_sentence_105

In France, Italy and Portugal, civilian physicians must be members of the Order of Physicians to practice medicine. Physician_sentence_106

In some countries, including the United Kingdom and Ireland, the profession largely regulates itself, with the government affirming the regulating body's authority. Physician_sentence_107

The best-known example of this is probably the General Medical Council of Britain. Physician_sentence_108

In all countries, the regulating authorities will revoke permission to practice in cases of malpractice or serious misconduct. Physician_sentence_109

In the large English-speaking federations (United States, Canada, Australia), the licensing or registration of medical practitioners is done at a state or provincial level, or nationally as in New Zealand. Physician_sentence_110

Australian states usually have a "Medical Board," which has now been replaced by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Authority (AHPRA) in most states, while Canadian provinces usually have a "College of Physicians and Surgeons". Physician_sentence_111

All American states have an agency that is usually called the "Medical Board", although there are alternate names such as "Board of Medicine," "Board of Medical Examiners", "Board of Medical Licensure", "Board of Healing Arts" or some other variation. Physician_sentence_112

After graduating from a first-professional school, physicians who wish to practice in the US usually take standardized exams, such as the USMLE for a Doctor in Medicine. Physician_sentence_113

Specialists in internal medicine Physician_section_17

Most countries have some method of officially recognizing specialist qualifications in all branches of medicine, including internal medicine. Physician_sentence_114

Sometimes, this aims to promote public safety by restricting the use of hazardous treatments. Physician_sentence_115

Other reasons for regulating specialists may include standardization of recognition for hospital employment and restriction on which practitioners are entitled to receive higher insurance payments for specialist services. Physician_sentence_116

Performance and professionalism supervision Physician_section_18

The issue of medical errors, drug abuse, and other issues in physician professional behavior received significant attention across the world, in particular following a critical 2000 report which "arguably launched" the patient-safety movement. Physician_sentence_117

In the US, as of 2006 there were few organizations that systematically monitored performance. Physician_sentence_118

In the US, only the Department of Veterans Affairs randomly drug tests physicians, in contrast to drug testing practices for other professions that have a major impact on public welfare. Physician_sentence_119

Licensing boards at the US state-level depend upon continuing education to maintain competence. Physician_sentence_120

Through the utilization of the National Practitioner Data Bank, Federation of State Medical Boards' disciplinary report, and American Medical Association Physician Profile Service, the 67 State Medical Boards continually self-report any adverse/disciplinary actions taken against a licensed physician in order that the other Medical Boards in which the physician holds or is applying for a medical license will be properly notified so that corrective, reciprocal action can be taken against the offending physician. Physician_sentence_121

In Europe, as of 2009 the health systems are governed according to various national laws, and can also vary according to regional differences similar to the United States. Physician_sentence_122

See also Physician_section_19

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