Physicians, also known as doctors of medicine, use a combination of extensive education and training, work experience and ongoing research to better serve their patients. Once a physician has determined a diagnosis and a treatment strategy, she/he works with the rest of the health care team to put that strategy into action.

While all physicians are trained and licensed to diagnose and treat illnesses and to prescribe medications, most choose to specialize in a particular area.

Medical specialties include: Allergy, Anesthesiology, Cardiology, Dermatology, Emergency Medicine, Family Practice (Primary Care), Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine (Primary Care), Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oncology, Orthopedics, Ophthalmology, Pathology, Pediatrics (Primary Care), Plastic Surgery, Psychiatry, Public Health, Radiology, Sports Medicine, Surgery, and Urology.

Salary Range: Median compensation varies widely depending on specialty. In 2017, median pay for primary care physicians was $294,000; for those in medical specialties, it was $435,000.

Where you can study:

Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, Hanover, NH
University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT
University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT

Where you might work:
– Clinics – Government Agencies – Group Practices – Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) – Hospitals – Industry – Long-term Care Facilities – Medical Schools – Military – Overseas – Peace Corps – Private Practice – Public Health Departments – Research Institutes – Student Health Services

Job Outlook: Several factors, including an aging population and advancements in health care, will ensure that physicians remain in high demand. Of all the medical specialties, child psychiatry is expected to be the area of greatest need. As increasing numbers of medical practices locate in urban areas, there will be a particular demand for physicians in rural areas in the coming years.

Education, Licensing and Certification: It isn’t easy to become a physician. After four years of high school, it takes at least four years of undergraduate work and four years of medical school, followed by three to eight years of internships and residency. High school course work should have a heavy emphasis on math and science, followed by an undergraduate degree in one of the natural sciences. Excellent grades along the way are important.

There are two types of medical degrees that qualify a person to become licensed to practice as a physician: the M.D. or Doctor of Medicine degree or the D.O. or Doctor of Osteopathy degree. Entrance to either type of medical school is extremely competitive.

Medical school includes many long hours of studying and doing clinical rotations, but the personal satisfaction from being a physician is enormous. The years immediately after medical school are known as residency training. Upon completion of this training, candidates are eligible to take examinations in their specialty to become board certified.

Students may incur a debt load for medical education as high as $150,000-$200,000, but many states, including Vermont, offer educational loan repayment options for physicians working in underserved locations (inner city and rural areas).

Professional Organizations:
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine 301-968-4100
American Medical Association 800-621-8335
Association of American Medical Colleges 202-828-0400
Vermont Medical Society 802-223-7898