Skills Necessary to Be a Doctor

Let's take a look at some of the many skills it takes to be a doctor. This page will also cover the required training, common salaries, job duties and more. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Doctors diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries in the human body. Becoming one takes compassion, physical stamina, leadership and several years of postsecondary schooling. See the chart below? It's got an overview of the profession for quick scanning.

Degree Required Doctoral or professional degree
Education Field of Study Medicine
Training Required Residency/internship
Key Skills Compassion, dexterity, stamina, communication
Licensure Required All doctors must be licensed; licensing varies by state
Job Growth (2016-2026) 13% (for all physicians and surgeons)*
Median Salary (2017) $208,000 per year or more (for all physicians and surgeons)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Doctors Do?

Doctors take personal histories from patients, examine them, make diagnoses, run tests and prescribe medicine or treatment. If that sounds like a lot of responsibility, it's because it is -- doctors take on the almost sacred commitment to heal people who are suffering from injuries and ailments. Physicians, as they're also called, work in hospitals, emergency rooms and private practices, and some specialize in areas such as anesthesiology, internal problems or illnesses in children.

How Do You Become One?

The path to becoming a doctor can be long and difficult. Aspiring physicians must get a bachelor's degree, then attend medical school for four years and do anywhere from three to seven years of residency and internship programs. After a residency, doctors have to become licensed in the state in which they intend to practice. There are two different licensing exams: the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). The first is for medical doctors and the second is for doctors of osteopathic medicine.

What Special Skills Do You Need to Become a Doctor?

Aside from all the training and know-how, doctors have to possess or develop a range of other skills. Compassion and patience are first and foremost. As a physician, you will see people suffering and dying and you have to be a steadying force in that storm. Communication is vital, too -- you'll need to tell families difficult news and give patients the emotional care they need to recover.

The job also requires no small amount of physical stamina and dexterity because you'll be asked to be on your feet all day. And finally, you'll need to learn to be a leader. Doctors typically work with a large support staff and they need to be able to coordinate and motivate them to give patients the best care possible.

How Much Do Doctors Make?

Doctors are generally well-compensated for their expertise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median annual wage for all physicians and surgeons of $208,000 or more in May 2017. Of course, salaries differ greatly from specialization to specialization. Anesthesiologists earned an average wage of $265,990 in that same year and pediatricians and internists brought home $187,540 and $198,370, respectively.

How Much Will Employment Grow in the Field?

According to the BLS, the job outlook for doctors is good. In fact, its numbers show an expected growth in employment of 13% across the board from 2016 to 2026. Obstetricians and gynecologists are projected to enjoy the best growth at 16%, while general practitioners and surgeons should see 14% during the same time period.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Yale University

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: New Haven
  • West Virginia University

    Campus Locations:

    • West Virginia: Morgantown
  • Weill Cornell Medical College

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: New York
  • Washington University in St Louis

    Campus Locations:

    • Missouri: Saint Louis
  • Upstate Medical University

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Syracuse
  • Yeshiva University

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: New York
  • University of Toledo

    Campus Locations:

    • Ohio: Toledo