Physicians diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They often counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates.

There are two types of physicians, with similar degrees: M.D. (Medical Doctor) and D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). Both use the same methods of treatment, including drugs and surgery, but D.O.s place additional emphasis on the body's musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine, and holistic (whole-person) patient care. D.O.s are most likely to be primary care physicians, although they can be found in all specialties.

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Physicians diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They often counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates.

There are two types of physicians, with similar degrees: M.D. (Medical Doctor) and D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). Both use the same methods of treatment, including drugs and surgery, but D.O.s place additional emphasis on the body's musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine, and holistic (whole-person) patient care. D.O.s are most likely to be primary care physicians, although they can be found in all specialties.

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Job Prospects


Job prospects are expected to be very good because almost all graduates of domestic medical schools are matched to residencies (their first jobs as physicians) immediately after graduating.

Prospects should be especially good for physicians who are willing to practice in rural and low-income areas, because these areas tend to have difficulty attracting physicians. Job prospects also should be good for physicians in specialties dealing with health issues that mainly affect aging baby boomers. For example, physicians specializing in cardiology and radiology will be needed because the risks for heart disease and cancer increase as people age.

Employment projections data for physicians and surgeons, 2016-26


Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric
Physicians and surgeons 29-1060 713,800 805,200 13 -91,400 xlsx

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Employment projections data for physicians and surgeons, 2016-26


Occupational Title
Physicians and surgeons
SOC Code
29-1060
Employment, 2016
713,800
Projected Employment, 2026
805,200
CHANGE, 2016-26
PERCENT
13
NUMERIC
91,400
EMPLOYMENT BY INDUSTRY
xlsx

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Pay


Wages for physicians and surgeons are among the highest of all occupations, with a median wage equal to or greater than $208,000 per year. Median wages showing the differences in pay between types of physicians and surgeons are not available, but mean (average) annual wages for physicians and surgeons in May 2017 were as follows:


Anesthesiologists $265,990
Surgeons $251,890
Obstetricians and gynecologists $235,240
Psychiatrists $216,090
Physicians and surgeons, all other $211,390
Family and general practitioners $208,560
Internists, general $198,370
Pediatricians, general $187,540

Many physicians and surgeons work long, irregular, and overnight hours. Physicians and surgeons may travel between their offices and hospitals to care for their patients. While on call, a physician may need to address a patient’s concerns over the phone or make an emergency visit to a hospital or nursing home.

Physicians and Surgeons


Median annual wages, May 2017


Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

Job Outlook


Overall employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

The growing and aging population is expected to drive overall growth in the demand for physician services. As the older population grows and rates of chronic illnesses increase, consumers will seek high levels of care that use the latest technologies, diagnostic tests, and therapies.

Demand for physicians and surgeons is expected to increase despite factors that can temper growth. New technologies, such as improved information technologies or remote monitoring, are expected to allow physicians to treat more patients in the same amount of time. If adopted, new technologies can reduce the number of physicians who would be needed to complete the same tasks. In addition, physician assistants and nurse practitioners can do many of the routine duties of physicians and may be used to reduce costs at hospitals and doctor’s offices.

Demand for physicians’ services is sensitive to changes in healthcare reimbursement policies. Consumers may seek fewer physician services if changes to health coverage result in higher out-of-pocket costs for them.

Physicians and Surgeons


Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26


Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

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Similar Occupations


  Occupational Title Job duties Entry-Level education 2017 Median pay
Chiropractors Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They use spinal adjustments and manipulation, as well as other clinical interventions, to manage patients’ health concerns, such as back and neck pain. Doctoral or Professional Degree $68,640
Dentists Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health. Doctoral or Professional Degree $158,120
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, also referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialty healthcare. The scope of practice varies from state to state. Master's Degree $110,930
Optometrists Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed. Doctoral or Professional Degree $110,300
Physician Assistants Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients. Master's Degree $104,860
Podiatrists Podiatrists provide medical and surgical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems. They diagnose illnesses, treat injuries, and perform surgery involving the lower extremities. Doctoral or Professional Degree $127,740
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
Chiropractors
JOB DUTIES
Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They use spinal adjustments and manipulation, as well as other clinical interventions, to manage patients’ health concerns, such as back and neck pain.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Doctoral or Professional Degree
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$68,640
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
Dentists
JOB DUTIES
Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Doctoral or Professional Degree
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$158,120
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners
JOB DUTIES
Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, also referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialty healthcare. The scope of practice varies from state to state.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Master's Degree
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$110,930
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
Optometrists
JOB DUTIES
Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Doctoral or Professional Degree
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$110,300
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
Physician Assistants
JOB DUTIES
Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Master's Degree
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$104,860
OCCUPATIONAL TITLE
Podiatrists
JOB DUTIES
Podiatrists provide medical and surgical care for people with foot, ankle, and lower leg problems. They diagnose illnesses, treat injuries, and perform surgery involving the lower extremities.
ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION
Doctoral or Professional Degree
2017 MEDIAN PAY
$127,740

Professional Recruiter and Staffing Organizations


  • National Association of Personnel Services
  • Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals
  • American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment
  • National Association of Executive Recruiters
  • National Association for Health Care Recruitment
  • Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association
  • American Staffing Association
  • Top Echelon Recruiting Network

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