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How to Get a Job as a Physician

Following residency, a doctor must receive the appropriate licensure to practice in all states and the District of Columbia. To qualify for a license, you must graduate from an accredited medical school, complete residency training and pass written exams. M.D.s take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination, while D.O.s take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination.

Yet Cutler says you could have the highest test scores and still become an abysmal doctor. To him, the best doctors are good listeners who empathize with people. “You have to be willing to take the time to listen to patients with a sympathetic ear,” he says. “Working in primary care, many of the symptoms and concerns that patients describe to you have an emotional overlay ... You have to hear all the patient has to say and be willing to connect with them.”

Similar to other health care practitioners, a good doctor should have plenty of patience. Good problem-solving skills are also valued: “That doesn’t mean you need to have the right answers and find the right diagnoses,” Cutler says, explaining that you should brush hubris aside and consult other physicians when in doubt. “Get help to determine the right thing to do, the right diagnoses and treatment.”

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility good Above Average
Stress Level poor High
Flexibility fair Average

What is the Job Like?

Making a generic statement about the day-to-day responsibilities of a physician is impossible because there is a vast spectrum of specialities, work environments and patients. Some might find themselves sitting during most of the workday, while others might be on their feet for irregular periods. One doctor might face a low-stress day of advising people in good health, while another might treat terminally ill patients. Work environments also vary. A pediatrician in a private practice has a little more independence and control of his or her schedule than an obstetrician who is regularly on call to deliver babies. And a psychiatrist stationed in a hospital might face a different work schedule and environment than an anesthesiologist within the same hospital.

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Last updated by Stephanie Steinberg.

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