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What they do:

Examine patients, perform diagnostic tests and interpret them.  Physicians diagnose and prescribe treatments for people with injury or disease.  Both M.D.s and D.O.s use all accepted methods of treatment such as medications and surgery, but D.O.s put more importance on the musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine, and holistic patient care.  Also, D.O.s are more likely to be primary care specialists, examples of primary care areas include pediatrics, family medicine, and internal medicine. 

There are 2 types:

  • Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) – also known as allopathic physicians


  • Bachelors degree (4 years)

  • Medical school (4 years)

  • Internship or residency (3-8 years)


  • United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)

  • Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX) – for D.O.s

What they make:

A physician's average salary varies. In 2015, a general internist made a median salary of $187,200 or more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The highest-paid in the profession earned upward of $275,000, while the lowest-paid made $62,520.


Where they work:

  • Hospitals

  • Self-employed

  • Physician offices


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for physicians will increase a higher-than-average 9% from 2014 to 2024, which translates to about 5,100 job openings.


Updated February 2017