What Are the Duties of Medical Practitioners?
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
Medical practitioners are healthcare professionals who are licensed by their states to diagnose and treat medical conditions. The designation typically applies to doctors, surgeons and dentists but can also include physician assistants, nurses and paramedics. It does not include technical occupations, such as clinical lab technicians or dental hygienists, which may handle only diagnostic or treatment procedures, but not both. Although duties vary by job title, all practitioners share common responsibilities.
Traditionally, the first oath that practitioners follow is to do no harm. Their procedures and prescriptions must not make the patient worse but instead, stabilize his condition or leave him in better physical condition. Practitioners first become familiar with his medical history, examine him visually and order tests, such as of blood, to determine a diagnosis. They can then offer a course of treatment that may involve lifestyle changes, hospitalization, therapy or medication. They update medical records to reflect treatment progress and may refer him to specialists who can handle specific conditions with more depth. An important duty is to educate the patient and his family on how to effect treatment on their own.
The duties of medical practitioners vary according to job title.
- For example, general practitioners treat a range of common issues and are typically the first practitioners that patients see for any aches and pains.
- Specialists, such as psychiatrists for metal health or oncologists for cancer, provide more specific treatment.
- There are almost as many types of nurses as there are physicians. Some examples include nurse anesthetists who handle pain management before, during and after surgery, and cardiovascular nurses who focus on those with heart disease.
- Finally, support practitioners rely primarily on therapy and health aids rather than medication or invasive procedures, but consult with physicians. For example, speech-language pathologists deal with problems related to verbal communication while physical therapists use exercise, massage and equipment to improve movement.
A patient may be confused and angry of his healthcare situation, and refuse to accept his diagnosis. Medical practitioners must remain calm and professional in explaining healthcare options. They must empathize with patient concerns and have the verbal skill to convince someone to undergo a necessary course of treatment. They need physical stamina to be on their feet all day and endure long procedures, such as operations, and the manual dexterity to handle tools. They must also be organized and good managers of time because they often see many patients in one day.
Because the country’s population is growing and getting older, medical practitioners are predicted to enjoy better than average job opportunities from 2010 to 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- The government agency also states that as of May, 2011, about 7,514,980 individuals were in healthcare practitioner and technical occupations, with mean wages of $72,730 per year.
- Some of the highest paid occupations in any industry belonged to medical practitioners. Some sample annual salaries and their recipients include $218,610 for obstetricians and gynecologists, $217,380 for oral surgeons and $177,330 for general practitioners.
- Registered nurses made a mean $69,110 per year, physical therapists averaged an annual $79,830 and speech-language pathologists made a mean $72,000 yearly.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.