The Doctor by Luke Fildes (detail)
|Names||Physician, medical practitioner, medical doctor or simply doctor|
|Medicine, health care|
|Competencies||The ethics, art and science of medicine, analytical skills, critical thinking|
|MBBS, MD, DO|
A medical doctor (also called a physician) is a person who practices medicine to treat illness and injuries.
Medical doctors go to medical school to be trained. They usually hold a college degree in medicine. Medical doctors used to make house calls to treat patients at home. Now they usually see patients in their offices or in hospitals. Medical doctors may also work for schools, companies, sports teams, or the military. Medical doctors are often assisted by nurses or other staff.
Medical doctors treat patients by diagnosing them, or figuring out what is wrong. When medical doctors diagnose a patient, they begin by asking questions about the patient's symptoms. Symptoms might include fever or pain. They may ask other questions about things like past illnesses or family members who have been sick. They will then examine the patient. That can include looking at different parts of the body and listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Sometimes they may need to collect blood, use an x-ray machine, or use other tools to look for things they cannot see when examining the patient. Usually, when they have gathered enough information, a doctor can make a diagnosis and then prescribe a treatment. Often they prescribe drugs.
Some medical doctors do only certain kinds of medicine. These doctors are called specialists. They may treat injuries to only specific parts of the body. They may treat only patients who have certain diseases. For example, there are medical doctors who specialise in diseases of the stomach or intestines. Other medical doctors are "general practitioners" or "family practitioners". This means that they do a little bit of everything. They try to deal with as much of a patient's health problems as they can without sending them to a specialist.
Some types of specialists are:
- Anesthesiologist, a doctor who gives anaesthesia to patients
- Dentist, also known in the US as a dental surgeon, is a surgeon who specializes in dentistry — the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity.
- Ophthalmologist, a doctor who specialises in treating eyes
- Podiatrist, a doctor who specialises in treating feet
- Psychiatrist, a doctor who specializes in psychiatry, and treats people with mental illness. Psychiatrists can prescribe psychiatric medication.
- Surgeon, a doctor who performs surgery
Images for kids
Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female physician to receive a medical degree in the United States
Medical doctor Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.