What do they do?
Dr. Sanjay was asleep when the phone rang. It was the hospital calling. He
needed to come in for an emergency cesarean section. Dr. Sanjay hurriedly
dressed, skipping his usual shave and shower. After a mad dash to the
hospital, he hurried into the operating room where he delivered a healthy
baby girl. Following the delivery, Dr. Sanjay wolfed down breakfast and
shaved in the hospital's on-call room. He was late for appointments at his
busy pediatrics practice. The rest of his day was spent trying to play catch
up, attending to a packed waiting room filled with children nursing both
minor--and more serious--ills.
And so goes another day in the life of a physician. Dr. Sanjay and other
doctors like him, provide medical care to injured, sick, and dying patients,
and preventative care to the healthy. Their days are spent attending to
dozens of patients whom they exam and diagnose. Part of their job is
studying each patient's medical history and ordering and interpreting
various medical tests. After a full assessment of each patient they see,
they prescribe the best possible treatment. They also offer advice on
important lifestyle issues affecting health, such as exercise, diet, and
good hygiene. When necessary, they prescribe medications.
About one-third of doctors are primary care physicians. They practice
general and family medicine, general internal medicine or general
pediatrics. They are the first doctors patients normally see when they get
ill or need a check up. Many are in private practice, working on their own
or in a partnership with other doctors. Some work in health maintenance
organizations while others work in hospitals.
Other doctors are specialists in various parts of the body. For example, if
a primary care physician discovers that a patient has a problem with his
heart, that physician will send the patient to a heart specialist who is
able to provide a more indepth analysis and treatment of the problem.
Not all physicians deal directly with patients. Some are involved
exclusively in research. Others, like radiologists and pathologists, work
largely behind the scenes, reading and interpreting the results of X-rays
and diagnostic tests, or analyzing tissue samples. Surgeons, of course, do
much of their work while patients are asleep under anesthesia.
The medical profession is deeply revered in this society, and doctors are
generally accorded much respect and great financial rewards. Even so, there
Specific tasks include:
check-ups and physical exams