Physician Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Physician, or Doctor, is responsible for providing expert medical care to patients with a range of potential illnesses, injuries or disabilities. Their duties include conducting routine physical examinations on patients, referring patients to medical specialists or counseling services and prescribing patients medications based on their condition.

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Physician duties and responsibilities

Physicians undertake a variety of responsibilities in their efforts to help patients. A Physician performs many duties, including the following:

  • Respond to patients’ medical issues by starting with their history 
  • Order radiology and laboratory tests and refer patients to specialists when necessary
  • Analyze reports, examinations and test results to accurately diagnose patients, as well as present treatment options
  • Discuss and explain treatments and medication thoroughly with patients, advising them of all the side effects and making sure that all allergy information is current before prescribing any medication or treatment
  • Advise patients on lifestyle and diet changes that could help improve their health or treat the health problem they have
  • Follow all departmental policies and procedures
  • Keep up-to-date with medical procedures, developments, treatments and available medication
  • Comply with federal and state privacy laws, always respecting a patient’s confidentiality
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What does a Physician do?

Physicians typically work for hospitals, private practices, healthcare clinics or rehabilitation facilities to assess the health and wellness of their patients. They work closely with Nurses and other Doctors to conduct examinations, update medical records and administer vaccinations to their patients. Their job is to treat and diagnose patients with various illnesses or medical conditions, including the common cold, broken limbs, food allergies, mental health diseases, autoimmune diseases and more. They may also be responsible for taking calls from patients after business hours to answer their questions about health concerns.

Physician skills and qualifications

A good Physician a person must have the following key skills:

  • Physical stamina to work long hours under pressure
  • Communication skills to interact clearly with both staff and patients
  • Flexibility to work with a variety of people, differing in ages, personalities and backgrounds
  • Collaboration and teamwork skills to work efficiently with others to provide new ideas and help inspire staff and management
  • Time management skills to be able to see a high number of patients
  • Interpersonal skills, compassion and empathy to build positive relationships with patients and colleagues

Physician salary expectations

A Physician makes an average salary of $202,292 per year. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Physician education and training requirements

Required education for a Physician is a degree in medicine in addition to a bachelor’s degree, a five-year residency training, a current state medical license and a Federal DEA license. Current Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Public Safety registration is required to prescribe medication. A Physician will have completed a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination. 

Physician experience requirements

Job experience for a Physician may vary, but a hospital or medical facility may prefer a Physician with at least three years of experience as a primary care doctor. Physicians gain years of experience as they complete medical school and residency, the required training program for all medical doctors.

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Frequently asked questions about Physicians


What is the difference between a Physician and a Surgeon?

Both Physicians and Surgeons work to ensure the health and wellness of medical patients, but they differ in their job responsibilities and respective pay. For example, Physicians typically work in a variety of medical facilities to conduct examinations and perform routine procedures like drawing blood, administering vaccinations and diagnosing patients. 

In contrast, Surgeons usually work specifically for hospitals and care clinics. They also conduct physical examinations and diagnose patients. However, they specialize in performing complex procedures that require them to use medical tools to repair organs or tumors from their patients. Due to the nature of their work, Surgeons typically earn more than Physicians.


What are the daily duties of a Physician?

On a typical day, a Physician starts by communicating with the front desk staff to review their appointments for the day. Before each appointment, they read the patient’s medical files to review their medical history. During each appointment, they take the time to speak with their patients about their current life situation and ask them if they’ve noticed any changes in their mood or physical health since their last visit. They administer vaccines, collect blood or urine samples and use tools to check their blood pressure, lung health, reflexes and other components.

After each appointment, Physicians update medical records for their patients, contact pharmacies to prepare prescription refills and send samples to the medical lab for testing.


What qualities make a good Physician?

A good Physician uses their passion for helping others in combination with their medical expertise to deliver meaningful service to their patients. They have a personable nature that makes patients feel comfortable with them and allows them to connect with people from diverse backgrounds. Further, a good Physician has an investigative mindset that enables them to identify their patient’s symptoms and conduct research and medical tests to provide patients with an accurate diagnosis. 

A good Physician also has a natural ability to lead. This quality allows them to oversee a team of Nurses or other medical professionals and instruct them in potentially urgent situations.


Who does a Physician report to?

A Physician typically reports to a Senior Physician within a healthcare facility to get advice or receive patient assignments. Physicians may also report directly to a Clinical Director or Clinical Manager to receive information about new policies and inform them of medical supply needs.

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