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Physicians and Surgeons

California Occupational Guide Number 319
Interest Area 13

PHYSICIANS diagnose and treat human diseases, using all types of medical 
equipment, instruments, and tests, following standard medical procedures.  
They engage in Research to aid in the control and cure of diseases, 
prescribe and administer medication, and perform surgery.  They develop and 
test new surgical, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, and investigate new 
drugs and medications.  Physicians are classified according to their 
specialty or type of practice.

General Practitioners diagnose and treat a wide variety of physical 
illnesses and are knowledgeable in many fields of medicine and 
rehabilitation of the physically challenged.  When General Practitioners 
encounter patients with complex problems they often refer them to specialists.

Specialists are Physicians who have completed advanced hospital training as 
postgraduates (formally known as interns and residents) in specific areas of 
medicine.  Today, there are 40 major fields of specialization recognized by 
the American Medical Association.  The most common specialties, which 
account for more than 50 percent of the total number of practicing 
physicians, are described below:

Internal Medicine:  The diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the internal 
organs such as the heart, liver, and lungs.  General Surgery:  Manual and 
operative procedures to correct deformities, defects, and injuries.  
Psychiatry:  The treatment and prevention of disorders of the mind, 
including psychoses and neuroses.  Obstetrics and Gynecology:  The care of 
women during and after pregnancy and delivery, and the treatment of diseases 
of female organs.  Pediatrics:  The branch of medicine dealing with the 
development and care of infants and children, and with the treatment of 
their diseases.  Radiology:  The use of radiant energy including X-rays, 
radium, and Cobalt 60 for treatment and diagnosis of diseases.  
Anesthesiology:  Administration of various forms of anesthetic drug for 
diagnosis or during surgery operations.  Ophthalmology:  The branch of 
medicine dealing with diseases or defects of the eye.  Orthopedic Surgery:  
The diagnosis and medical or surgical treatment of diseases, fractures and 
deformities of the bones and joints.  Family Practice:  Physicians in this 
specialty are concerned with the health-care needs of families.  During a 
three-year residency, doctors in this specialty become proficient in general 
medicine, community medicine, nutrition, and the behavioral sciences, with 
emphasis on marriage counseling and family problems.  They are capable of 
caring for 90 percent of all problems presented to them by patients.  The 
field of Nuclear Medicine is another growing specialty for Physicians, who 
perform tests using nuclear isotopes and use techniques that let them see 
and understand organs deep within the body.


Physicians' working conditions depend primarily on geographical area, 
hospital facilities, and the physician's specialty.  Their offices and 
treatment rooms are usually well-lighted, air-conditioned, and equipped with 
the necessary instruments and supplies.

Physicians usually work in their offices or in hospitals.  When on call, 
they must make their whereabouts known, carry electronic pagers, and be 
available at all times.

Most Physicians belong to the American Medical Association, the California 
Medical Association and to the affiliated district, county, and state 
organizations.  In addition to the above associations, medical associations 
exist for specialists.


The following information is from the California Projections of Employment 
published by the Labor Market Information Division.

Estimated number of workers in 1990                 51,330
Estimated number of workers in 2005                 71,510
Projected Growth 1990-2005                             39%
Estimated openings due to separations by 2005       21,790

(These figures do not include self-employment nor openings due to turnover.)

By the year 2005, over 71,500 Physicians will be practicing in California.  
The numbers of Physicians is increasing faster than the average for all 
occupations in the state due to continued expansion of the health industry.


The yearly net income earned by self-employed Physicians fluctuates 
according to the type, location, and size of practice.  Private practice 
Physicians (including specialists) earn an average of $155,000 per year, 
according to a recent salary survey.  Doctors employed by medical groups and 
health maintenance organizations earn, on average, about $45,000 less, per 
year but enjoy fringe benefits such as paid vacations, retirement programs, 
profit sharing, and educational sabbaticals on half-pay, in addition to 
working shorter hours.

Salaries for those employed by State and Federal governments range from 
$66,000 to $96,000 annually, depending on the training the Physician has 
received and the employer.  They also receive the same fringe benefits 
enjoyed by group physicians.


Helpful high school courses for students planning to become doctors are 
biology, chemistry, physiology, and math.  Many hospitals have volunteer 
programs for high school students during the school semester and summer.  
Some areas where students may receive supervised training are hospital 
laboratories, physical therapy departments, nursing services, and pharmacies.

Students must complete three years of college to qualify for any one of 
eight medical schools in California.  Most students, however, have a 
Bachelor's degree when admitted to medical school.

Considerable weight is given on scholastic records, performance on the 
Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and recommendation of teachers and 
advisors regarding the applicant's motivation, emotional stability, and 
intellectual capacity.  The number of applicants far exceeds the actual 
number of students accepted into medical school.

Academic requirements of California medical schools vary slightly, with most 
requiring a year or more each of biological science, chemistry, and physics. 
The University of California Medical Schools, with the exception of Irvine, 
require a year of English, and two schools (Davis and San Diego) require 
mathematics through calculus.  In addition, a broad educational base of 
coursework that includes literature, history, art, and the social and 
behavioral sciences is recommended.

Medical doctors should be self-disciplined, conscientious and sensitive to 
the needs of their patients.  They should be able to organize and evaluate 
information, write reports and work independently.

After obtaining the M.D. degree, doctors must meet the State Licensing 
requirements.  In California, applicants must pass either the National Board 
of Medical Examiners exam or Federation Licensing Examination which is 
administered by the Medical Board of California.  In certain cases, 
applicants are required to take an oral, or clinical and oral examination. 


Physicians and Surgeons in private practice do not advance in their 
occupation in the traditional sense -- their progress is measured by their 
advancement in skill and understanding, in their numbers of patients, and 
in income.  Appointments to teaching positions, medical boards, and hospital 
staffs are other forms of recognition.  In civil service jobs, the annual 
raises within the classification provide one kind of advancement, and 
progress to supervisory or administrative jobs provides another.


Those seeking jobs as physicians should register with their local medical 
society and apply directly to county, state, and federal personnel 
departments.  Many newly licensed physicians become associated with an 
established doctor and assist or share in the practice.


American Medical Association
515 N. State Street
Chicago, IL  60610

Association of American Medical Colleges
2450 N. Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20037

National Medical Association
1012 Tenth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20001

American Medical Women's Association
801 N. Fairfax
Alexandria, VA  22314

California Medical Association
P.O. Box 7690
San Francisco, CA  94120-7690
(415) 541-0900

Medical Board of California
1430 Howe Avenue
Sacramento, CA  95825
(916) 263-2499


Pharmacists          No. 159
Veterinarians        No. 282


DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 4th ed., Rev.);
Anesthesiologist           070.101-010
General Practitioner       070.101-022
Internist                  070.101-042
Psychiatrist               070.101-070
Surgeon                    070.101-094

OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) System
Physicians and Surgeons         321020

Source:  State of California, Employment Development Department,
         Labor Market Information Division, Information Services Group,
         (916) 262-2162.
Note:  This is NOT a job opening.  The purpose of This California Occupational Guide is to provide you with useful information to help you make career decisions.   If you are searching for a job, go to:

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