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Physicians examine patients, obtain medical histories, and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive health care. In the fields of genetic testing and services, physicians often serve as the initial point of contact for diagnostic and screening purposes. They also counsel and manage patients regarding the interpretation and implication of the results of genetic tests.

Career Outlook

The number of physicians is projected to grow much faster than the average for most occupations. Job growth will occur because of continued expansion of healthcare-related industries as well as the continued increase in and aging of the general population.

Working Conditions & Context

Physicians commonly work either in group practices or in small private offices, They are frequently assisted by a staff of nurses, medical assistants, and administrative personnel. Increasingly, physicians are practicing in groups or healthcare organizations that provide backup coverage and allow for more time off. Physicians in a group practice or healthcare organization often work as part of a team that coordinates care for a number of patients; they are less independent than the solo practitioners of the past.

Salary Information

A typical Salary Range for this career is $200,000 - $317,000 annually.

The Median Income for this career is about $242,000 annually.

Education Information


The education of a physician is long and rigorous. It starts formally with a four-year undergraduate degree, followed by four years of medical school and three to eight years of internships, residency and fellowship training. Primary care residencies are typically three or four years in length. Some schools offer a combined undergraduate and medical degree program that lasts six years.

Certification & Licensing:

All 50 states and Washington, DC require physicians to be licensed. In order to be licensed, physicians must graduate from an accredited medical school, pass a series of licensing examinations, and complete three to seven years of graduate medical education followed by a specialty medical board exam. This exam must be re-taken periodically after training to maintain board certification.

Other Resources

Related Careers

Genetic Nurse, Medical Geneticist, Physician Assistant with Focus on Genetics

More Information

The American Medical Association

The American Academy of Family Physicians

The American College of Physicians

The American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Osteopathic Association

The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists

Report on Medical School Faculty Salaries 2007-2008, AAMC Data Services

O*NET Online

Related Videos

If you like this career, checkout these videos:

  1. Dr. Kent McKelvey
* Information regarding income is cited from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
** More than a minimum degree may be required for some careers.