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What Are the Duties of Medical Practitioners?

Updated on July 2, 2013

© 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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    • keepyouinstitches profile image

      Erica J 

      8 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Well written post! My daughter in law is interested in becoming a nurse.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      Vespa Woolf 

      8 years ago from Peru, South America

      I like that you focused on the various duties of physicians. Of course, they do earn a lot of money but they have lives in their hands. Very interesting...voted up and shared, of course. : )

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      8 years ago from Pune, India

      Useful, well explained Hub as always.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Very interesting and useful read Aurelio. Nice to see they draw handsome salaries. Voted up and useful.

    • Gypsy48 profile image


      8 years ago

      Interesting article. I wish I would have explored the medical field years ago. Voted up and interesting.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 

      8 years ago from India

      Good hub Alocsin, the hub is useful. It was well written.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Aurelio,

      As you said with the aging of the Baby Boomers (like me) there will be a great need for all kinds of medical practitioners long into the future. Anyone wanting job security should definitely check into those fields. Up and useful votes and will share.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Up! Useful and Awesome Alocsin!!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      If I ever start over with a new career, I am going into this profession. The pay is outstanding and the job is interesting. Thanks for the information. Great job!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      8 years ago from USA

      Lots of great information. I have a friend who changed professions from a telephone technician to go into the medical field. She had a job offer before she even finished her studies. The medical field will always be around and after retiring from the phone company my friend now enjoys her second job in the medical world. She says she plans to stay with this job until she is retired... again.

    • Saloca profile image

      Sarah Campbell 

      8 years ago from Liverpool, UK

      Informative, nice hub!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      8 years ago from The Caribbean

      Good information, though too late for me. Thanks for the inside information, anyway. I read them all.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      8 years ago from Western NC

      Great info here. Once again, I didn't know all the different avenues a person could explore in the medical practicioner field. I would have gone into it - I really enjoyed studying it when I was younger - but I can't deal with blood and fluids, haha.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Excellent ...I think these medical practitioners are a great boom to our medical system. there are not enough doctors out there and especially in small cities. They certainly get a lot of training and from I heard they take more time with their patients. Voting up and sharing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Detailed and interesting as always! Good information, Aurelio!


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