Doctors Vs. Physicians: Do You Know The Difference?

 What is the difference between a doctor and a physician? This is a common question when looking for information about the medical field.

The answer can be confusing because different terms describe healthcare professionals. When looking for a doctor, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. After all, we all have a doctor, right?

Nevertheless, when looking for a doctor for your family, knowing the difference between a physician and a medical doctor is crucial to helping you choose the right one.

To ensure you are receiving the right kind of treatment, it is essential to understand the difference between a physician and a doctor. While they may seem like interchangeable titles, there is quite a bit of variation between them.

This article will explain the difference between a physician and a doctor.


What is a physician?

A physician is a person who has completed medical school and has a license to practice medicine in the United States. A physician may also be called a “medical doctor” or “MD.”

Physicians diagnose and treat illnesses. They have extensive knowledge of the human body, including how it works and how to fix it when it doesn’t.

Physicians use their medical science, chemistry, and biology knowledge to treat patients.

Physicians can specialize in different areas of medicine, such as pediatrics (children’s health), internal medicine (adult’s health), surgery, or obstetrics/gynecology (women’s health).

What are the responsibilities of a physician?

A physician is a medical professional who diagnoses and assesses illnesses and diseases.

Among their responsibilities is taking patients’ medical histories and performing physical exams. Other responsibilities include but are limited to;

  • Recommendation and ordering of appropriate diagnostic studies and treatment
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of treatment and the patient’s response to treatment
  • Establishing a patient’s medical plan
  • Explaining medical tests to the patient
  • Making referrals to other physicians for further evaluation and treatment
  • Education of the patient and family about the patient’s illness and treatment
  • Involvement in the research of new medical therapies.
  • Prescription of medications, including controlled substances, for the treatment of illness
  • Administering injections, IVs, and medications

In addition, physicians can develop treatment plans for their patients when determining what causes their symptoms.

Physicians usually have more general training, while doctors are more likely to specialize in one field of practice.

What are the educational requirements to become a physician?

To become a physician, you must complete four years of undergraduate coursework at a college or university.

You must graduate from medical school with an MD (doctor of medicine) or a DO (osteopathic medicine) degree. 

You will take anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, and microbiology courses during medical school. You will also learn about other areas of medicine, such as pediatrics or cardiology. 

After completing these two stages of education (undergraduate degree and medical school), you must complete three to seven years of residency training at an accredited teaching hospital before becoming licensed as a Physician.


What is a doctor?

The term “doctor” can refer to two things. The first is someone with a doctoral degree (the highest level of formal education).

It means a person who is knowledgeable in their field of study. The second describes someone who has earned a degree in medicine. 

In medicine, a doctor is a person who has finished all of the requirements for medical school and received a degree in medicine.

Doctors are also called physicians, but it’s important to remember that not all doctors are physicians.

A doctor studies many things, like biology and chemistry, to learn more about the human body. Doctors can be either general practitioners (GP) or specialists.

Specialists have completed an additional five years of training after medical school, while GPs have completed a minimum of seven years of training.

What are the responsibilities of a doctor?

Often, doctors and physician assistants perform similar duties and care for patients.

They can conduct diagnostic tests and assessments to determine the cause of symptoms and diagnose and educate their patients regarding various medical issues.

Doctors may provide extensive follow-up care to facilitate patients’ recovery from their illnesses. 

What are the educational requirements to become a doctor?

If you’re considering becoming a doctor, there are some important differences between medical doctors (MDs) and doctors of osteopathy (DOs).

While MDs and DOs are doctors, they have different training and educational requirements. The first step to becoming a doctor is going to medical school.

To become an MD, you must attend a four-year undergraduate program at an accredited university, followed by four years of medical school.

You’ll also need to pass the USMLE (the United States Medical Licensing Examination), which tests your knowledge of medicine and clinical skills.

To become a DO, you must complete at least three years of undergraduate coursework at an accredited college or university before applying for DO programs.

DO students must complete four years of study at a college offering the appropriate curriculum in their chosen field. 

After that, they will be eligible to take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA) exam, which tests their knowledge in anatomy and physiology and other areas like pharmacology and pathophysiology.

Once you’ve completed these steps successfully, it’s time for residency training. All new physicians must complete residency training before they can practice independently. 

Note that becoming a doctor requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and determination. 

Key takeaways 

  • It takes an average of eight years to earn a Doctorate. In contrast, physicians need four years in the undergraduate program, four years of medical school, and 3 to 6 years in a residency program to gain recognition.
  • A doctor can work in diverse fields depending on the subject of the Doctorate Degree. Physicians primarily operate in the area of medical sciences.
  • The main difference between physicians and doctors is that ‘All physicians are doctors, but not all doctors are.


Should you be a doctor or a physician?

Becoming a doctor or a physician is a serious decision, but it can also be exciting. Knowing the difference between being a doctor and being a physician before embarking on a medical profession is crucial.

What should be the favorite subject of a physician and doctor?

The favorite subject of a physician and doctor is and should be biology.

What do physicians and doctors have in common?

Physicians and Doctors are licensed professionals who diagnose and treat patients with various illnesses. Physicians and doctors can be found in many settings, including hospitals, private practice, and more.


The distinction between physician and doctor is simple but sometimes confusing.

To understand the difference between them, it’s important to know the meaning of each of their titles.

A physician is a medical doctor that treats patients by diagnosing and treating diseases at the hospital or in a patient’s home. 

A medical doctor may also be called an “MD” or doctor. On the other hand, “doctor” can have two different meanings depending on your profession.

The first is someone awarded an honorary degree from an institution. The second is someone who has completed postgraduate training in any branch of medicine and has done clinical practice.

You can also find out if a pharmacist is a doctor

Thanks for reading.