A doctor is someone who is qualified to treat people who are ill or injured. If a doctor is a qualified surgeon, they are able to operate on those who are ill or injured. Doctors can choose to specialise in different fields.
For example, a doctor can specialise in the care of the elderly, geriatrics, or choose to focus on the care of children, paediatrics. Doctors can choose to become general practitioners or general surgeons, which means they are respectively equipped to deal with a wide range of medical and surgical issues.
Doctors face the challenge of trying to heal people and keep them as healthy as possible on a daily basis. They do this by using their communication skills to understand what the problem is and using their scientific knowledge to know how best to fix it. Doctors have some of the most diverse and challenging careers available.
Read on to find out about:
General Practitioners are doctors who have trained in the medical specialty of generalism and work in the community to care for patients of all ages and backgrounds. They are faced with the formidable task of being the frontline of healthcare by acting as the first point of contact in a patient’s care.
According to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Australian patients see GPs more than any other health professionals. GPs diagnose and treat a great deal of patients independently and will sometimes refer them on to appropriate specialist doctors in hospitals for further medical opinions, advice, and treatment.
Specialists are medical doctors who have completed advanced clinical training in a specialty. There are a diverse range of areas that you can specialise in, with many sub-specialities within them. For example, you could train to become an obstetrician and then become a sub-specialist in gestational diabetes in high-risk pregnancies.
If you don't want to become a GP or specialist, you could:
The options at the end of a medical degree are vast and diverse, and thus the day-to-day life of a doctor greatly varies. You will see and hear more about various career options during your time at medical school and as a junior doctor, and will have numerous opportunities to consider what type of doctor you would like to become.
For those who take the usual route to become a GP or specialist, you will go through the following education and training:
A student’s time in medical school usually lasts 4–6 years, depending on the nature of entry (direct or graduate), and the medical school. This involves a heavy commitment in terms of time, effort, and finance. The early pre-clinical years equip you with basic medical and scientific knowledge, while the later clinical years are more hands-on and spent in clinical settings.
After graduating from medical school, you can apply for provisional registration and undertake a year of training (as an intern in Australia and a house officer in New Zealand), after which you become eligible for general registration. You will then typically spend another 1–2 years as a resident (Australia) or a house officer (New Zealand), then choose and apply for a specialty (there are over 60 specialties in Australia).
You will undergo 3–6 years of training and examinations as a GP registrar or a specialist registrar. Once you fulfill all the requirements, you will become elected to a fellowship. Your official training will finally be complete, but you're expected to continually upskill yourself and keep up-to-date with the latest advances in medicine.
Medicine is a wide-ranging field that requires a diverse skill set and huge knowledge base of its practitioners. Almost anyone can fit into a particular branch of medicine, no matter their background. However, there are characteristics common to all good doctors.
A good doctor is:
'To my mind, having a care and concern for others is the highest of the human qualities'
– Fred Hollows, New Zealand-Australian eye surgeon and founder of The Fred Hollows Foundation, which has restored the sight of millions of people around the world.
Are you interested in attending a medical school in the UK instead of Australia or New Zealand? Check out Medify’s UK Medical School Admissions Guide.
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