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Physician Vs Surgeon

Discussion in 'Medical Students Cafe' started by Egyptian Doctor, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor Moderator Verified Doctor

    Mar 21, 2011
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    All doctors receive a similar education, whether they attend medical college and become an M.D., or an osteopathic college and become a D.O.. However, most will pursue specialized training in a specific field of medicine. Many of these areas of practice involve surgery, and their practitioners are referred to as surgeons. Those who perform little or no surgery are simply referred to as physicians. All surgeons are physicians, but not all physicians are surgeons.


    All doctors begin their careers in a three- to four-year undergraduate pre-medical program, earning a bachelor of science degree that satisfies the prerequisites for medical or osteopathic college. Those schools represent the next step, a four-year doctorate combining hands-on clinical experience with classroom instruction in physiology, pharmacology, organic chemistry, medical ethics and related topics. At graduation, the newly minted doctor must choose an accredited residency program in one or another area of practice. This is where career paths for physicians and surgeons diverge. Physicians spend their residencies practicing medicine under the supervision of experienced practitioners, while surgeons spend theirs learning a range of surgical techniques appropriate to their specialty.

    What Physicians Do

    Physicians may be specialists or practice primary care. Primary care physicians are generalists, such as family doctors, gynecologists and pediatricians. They build long-term relationships with their patients, counseling them on wellness and lifestyle choices, as well as treating their illnesses. Specialists focus on specific diseases, such as cancers or breathing disorders, or specific parts of the body, such as the digestive system or heart. They typically see patients for specific conditions, rather than providing general care. Both types of physicians treat illnesses, injuries and other conditions with medicines, physical therapy and other non-surgical techniques.

    What Surgeons Do

    Surgeons perform many of the same duties as other physicians, recording patients' medical histories and diagnosing illnesses, injuries and other conditions. However, while physicians' therapies typically encourage the body to heal itself, surgeons act directly to correct illnesses, injuries and deformities. Working through open incisions in the traditional way with scalpels or with tiny instruments inserted into the body through fine tubes, surgeons cut, fuse and reshape the body's tissues to restore proper function. Some physicians who are classed as non-surgeons -- including interventional cardiologists, neurologists and radiologists -- use the same minimally invasive techniques to perform repairs on their patients.

    Comparative Income

    In its 2011 salary survey, medical staffing firm Merritt Hawkins reported a salary range of $130,000 to $290,000 per year for family medicine, with an average salary of $178,000. For emergency medicine physicians, the average was $255,000, with the high and low ranging from $160,000 to $380,000 per year. Anesthesiologists fared better, with a range of $290,000 to $475,000 and an average salary of $355,000 a year. General surgeons reported an average salary of $330,000, with a low of $205,000 and a high of $450,000. Orthopedic surgeons had especially high salaries, ranging from a low of $380,000 per year to a high of $650,000. Their average salary was $532,000 per year.



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