Doctor Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Doctor, or Physician, is responsible for promoting the health and safety of their patients by providing proactive treatment and diagnoses. Their duties include speaking with patients to address their health concerns, conducting physical examinations to ensure their patients’ health and administering vaccinations for common illnesses or allergies.

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Doctor duties and responsibilities

The main duties and responsibilities a Doctor must fulfill in order to do their job well and provide the best care for each of their patients include:

  • Maintain regularly updated patient medical records that document all evaluations, medications, treatments, allergies, test results and other records
  • Evaluate a patient’s symptoms and determine the most appropriate course of treatment to address them
  • Prescribe medications in compliance with state and federal statutes and inform patients of all possible risks, complications and interference with other medications they may be taking
  • Supervise and evaluate Medical Assistants to ensure full compliance with regulations and make sure that the current care program is as effective as possible
  • Consult patients on topics such as proper nutrition, fitness and hygiene to assist them in making informed decisions and taking good care of their health
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What does a Doctor do?

Doctors typically work for hospitals, urgent care facilities and private clinics to administer treatment and give patients health advice. They work with Nurses and other healthcare professionals to ensure their patients receive quality medical attention. Their job is to prescribe medications, refer patients to specialized medical professionals and conduct tests to diagnose injuries, illnesses or diseases.  They may also admit patients to the hospital for significant injuries or illnesses.

Doctor skills and qualifications

A successful Doctor will have certain qualifications and skills in order to demonstrate their ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of the job effectively:

  • An M.D. from an accredited medical school
  • A current medical license 
  • Previous clinical experience beyond the required residency
  • Board certification in a relevant specialization preferred
  • A detail-oriented and compassionate approach with patients and staff
  • Strong leadership and organization skills
  • A well-developed ability to solve problems on their feet
  • A high degree of physical stamina and dexterity needed to perform various treatments and accurately administer medications

Doctor salary expectations

A Doctor makes an average of $202,521 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Doctor education and training requirements

Doctors need a bachelor’s degree, a medical degree and three to seven years in residency or a fellowship, depending on the specialization. While no specific major is required for the bachelor’s degree, most students usually choose a science such as biology or chemistry. In order to be accepted into a medical school, students must have completed their bachelor’s degrees and taken the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). Most medical school programs last four years.

After completing medical school and residency requirements, applicants need to pass a standardized national licensure exam before being allowed to practice medicine.

Doctor experience requirements

Candidates need to complete a residency program or fellowship in a hospital before they can become licensed Doctors. Depending on the specialization, this will last anywhere from three to seven years. All applicants are required to have some experience before they can practice medicine in a primary care capacity. Students also usually receive some supervised practical training in a hospital during medical school, so all licensed candidates will already have some experience, regardless of how limited their professional experience may be.

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Frequently asked questions about Doctors


What is the difference between a Doctor and a Surgeon?

The difference between a Doctor and a Surgeon is that Doctors tend to treat patients by prescribing medicine, administering vaccinations and making diagnoses. In contrast, Surgeons perform surgical operations on patients to correct deformities, realign broken bones and remove or repair specific organs to decrease a patient’s mortality rate. For example, a Doctor diagnoses a patient with a severe case of scoliosis and refers them to a Surgeon to perform a spinal fusion.


What qualities make a good Doctor?

A good Doctor is someone who cares about the health of their patients. They have superb attention to detail that enables them to detect medical conditions and diagnose their patients before their condition progresses. They also demonstrate empathy and compassion for their patients, which helps ease patients’ nerves by making them feel safe and supported. A good Doctor is also someone who values continued education. Continued education allows them to apply updated medical practices for improved patient care. 

Further, a good Doctor should have a team-oriented mindset. This is important because it means they value the insights of their peers and aren’t afraid to refer to them when they need a second opinion.


What are the daily duties of a Doctor?

On an average day, a Doctor starts by talking with the receptionist to determine their appointment schedule for the day. During each appointment, they ask their patients whether they have any health concerns and answer patient questions. They use this time to enter notes into a patient’s file. They perform physical examinations and check their patient’s ears, nose, mouth and breathing patterns. They may also administer vaccinations and schedule prescription refills at the patient’s request. Before closing, they meet with nurses and other staff to answer questions and take inventory of medical supplies.


Who do Doctors report to?

Doctors typically operate at the highest level within a healthcare facility. However, if they work in a facility with a Head Physician, they might report to them for guidance and patient-related questions. If a Doctor operates their own practice, then they typically report to the state medical board for information about new policies and procedures.

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