Physicians, or doctors, are highly skilled professionals trained extensively in medicine. After four years of undergraduate work, they attend four years of medical school, after which they do an internship and residency to certify to practice medicine. The residency can last anywhere from three to ten years, depending on the specialty practiced. Because it is a tightly controlled profession, a government license is required to practice medicine. This can only be obtained with a medical degree and residency; in addition to this, a person must board-certify with the group they are going to work with before they are approved to be an attending physician and work independent of observation.
A myriad of jobs are available to physicians. Because medicine is such a broad area of study, after medical school students pick a specific area of medicine to go into. This is what their residency is for—to give specialized training for the chosen area. Students should speak to their counselors in medical school prior to graduation to decide what area of medicine would be best for them. Another thing to consider is demand. There is greater job demand for some areas of practice than others; pay scale also differs depending on the specialty, as do hours the physician will be required to work.
Once the person has completed his or her schooling and residency, they are free to pursue a number of options. They can open their own practice, which can be costly, or they can buy into an existing practice. They can work for an existing practice, work for a hospital, or work for universities and research centers in a more scholastic arena than practicing. For a physician starting out, flexibility is important. A willingness to relocate is helpful in finding a job ideally suited to the training and tastes of the new physician. Because it is such an arduous and long process to become a licensed physician, and because the numbers of students accepted into medical school are controlled, skilled physicians with good records are generally able to find work.