Doctors are trained in medical schools which are usually part of a university. They usually hold a college degree in medicine. Doctors work in hospitals, medical clinics, from their own offices, or may even visit people in their homes. They may also work for schools, companies, sports teams, or the military. Medical doctors are often assisted in their work by nurses.
Medical doctors treat patients by finding out what is wrong with them, known as a diagnosis. They ask questions about the patient's symptoms. These might include fever or pain. They may ask about past illnesses or family members who have been sick. They will then examine the patient. They look at different parts of the body, listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Sometimes they may need to collect a sample of blood, use an x-ray machine, or use other tools. When they have gathered enough information, a doctor can make a diagnosis and then plan a treatment. Often they prescribe drugs.
Some medical doctors only work on certain diseases or injuries, or may only work on one part of the human body. These doctors are called specialists. For example, there are doctors who specialise in diseases of the stomach or intestines. Other medical doctors are "general practitioners" or "family practitioners". This means that they do a little bit of everything. The general practitioner the first doctor a patient will see, and this doctor may decide to send them to a specialist doctor if needed.
Some types of specialists are:
- Anesthesiologist, a doctor who gives anaesthesia to patients
- Dentist, also known in the US as a dental surgeon, is a surgeon who specializes in dentistry — the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity.
- Ophthalmologist, a doctor who specialises in treating eyes
- Podiatrist, a doctor who specialises in treating feet
- Psychiatrist, a doctor who specializes in psychiatry, and treats people with mental illness. Psychiatrists can prescribe psychiatric medication.
- Surgeon, a doctor who performs surgery