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Doctors like to help people. When people get sick, doctors figure out why. They examine people, ask them questions, listen to them describe their health problems, and do tests to see what is wrong. They give people medicine and other kinds of treatment. They offer advice about diet, exercise, and hygiene. Doctors also need to be able to make quick decisions and handle emergencies.
There are many kinds of doctors. Family and general practitioners are often the first doctors that people go to when they get sick. These doctors treat common problems. They may send patients to other doctors, called specialists. Specialists are experts in specific types of health problems. For example, internists focus on problems with internal organs. Pediatricians care for children and babies.
Most doctors are medical doctors (M.D.). They treat all kinds of diseases and injuries. Some doctors are doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.). Instead of just treating specific symptoms or illnesses, they practice a “whole person” approach to medicine. Naturopathic doctors (N.D.) use therapies that are primarily natural and nontoxic.
Becoming a doctor requires more extensive training and study than most other jobs. It usually takes at least 11 years to become a doctor: 4 years of college (with an emphasis on chemistry, biology, and math), 4 years of medical school, and 3 years working in a hospital. For some specialties, doctors may have to work in a hospital for up to 8 years before they are fully trained. Many doctors also have to work long hours, but of all jobs, being a doctor usually pays the most money.
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