Physician vs Doctor: Difference and Comparison

When people fall sick, the most common statement they hear from people is, “consult a doctor”. This can be experienced for all issues.


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When one feels unwell or feels something incorrect with their body, they consult a physician. The physician observes the symptoms and then plans the treatment.

Doctors and Physicians are both confused about one another. Both physicians and doctors practice medicine.

They help to restore, maintain, and promote good health. They guide patients, determine a patient’s illness, implement treatment plans, etc.

However, the two terms differ. From the cost of becoming a doctor or physician to the salary they receive or the number of years required to be invested, there are differences between a doctor and a physician.

Key Takeaways

  1. A physician is a medical professional specializing in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases, primarily using non-surgical methods.
  2. A doctor is a broader term that can refer to any individual who has earned a doctorate in various fields, including medicine, dentistry, psychology, or other disciplines.
  3. Both physicians and doctors are highly educated professionals, but “physician” is specific to medical practitioners, whereas “doctor” can apply to various fields beyond medicine.

Physician vs Doctor

A physician is a medical status given to a person that practices his work in connection with a licensed doctor and makes use of medications and drugs to treat patients. A doctor is a medical title given to a person that uses total medical surgeries and procedures to treat their patients.

Physician vs Doctor


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonPhysicianDoctor
Job functionsA physician works in connection with a doctor.A doctor works independently.
SalaryOn average, a physician earns $86,000- $120,000 per year.On average, a doctor earns $200,000-$300,000 per year.
TreatmentPhysicians use medication and drugs to cure patients.Doctors use full-scale medical procedures and surgeries to treat patients.
DutiesA few of the physician’s duties are: guiding patients, determining a patient’s illness, implementing treatment plans, etc.A doctor performs all the duties of a physician and some major duties, such as surgeries.
Time requiredIt requires fewer years of education and training to become a physician as compared to a doctor.It requires more years of training and education to become a doctor. It may take 10-14 years to become a licensed doctor.


What is a Physician?

Physicians are qualified specialists who are trained to provide health care to people. They use non-surgical ways to cure others.

They use drugs and medication to treat people. That does not mean that they are not practical.

There are two groups of physicians- Specialist physicians and General physicians. As the name suggests, a general physician is not skilled in just one area.

They can treat illnesses, but if any more medical help is required, they might have to refer them to specialist physicians. Physicians are given comprehensive training, which helps them choose the appropriate drugs and medication necessary to treat and prevent diseases.

They can deal with all medical issues. They also have high skills in making clinical decisions.

Physicians have many responsibilities and tasks to complete. They review a patient’s medical history, identify the present symptoms, and determine the health disorders, injuries, and diseases.

They prescribe the necessary treatments and ensure that the patient follows them. Managing and instructing the health team to implement patient care is also the physician’s responsibility.

To become a physician, one has to get a four years undergraduate degree, followed by a 27-month course in a physician program. A one-year clinical rotation is required to become a licensed physician.


What is a Doctor?

Most people believe that the term Doctor is associated with someone practising medicine. However, this is not true.

A doctor is a broad term. It is not merely restricted to someone practising medicine.

Some people are not qualified to practice medicine, but they are still referred to as Doctors. A doctor is a person who has completed a doctorate.

There are numerous doctorate degrees available, such as a doctor of fine arts, engineering, public health, public administration, and so on. If we talk about the medical field, a Doctor is any person who restores a person’s health by practising medicine.

They guide patients, determine a patient’s illness, implement treatment plans, etc. There are many categories of doctors, such as oncologists, dermatologists, dentists, paediatricians, physicians, orthopedists, etc.

To become a doctor, one has to get a four years undergraduate degree, then two years for a medical degree, followed by a few years of residency training. To become a licensed doctor, one must put in many years of education and training.

Doctors can work in a hospital, or they can work in a community. Some can even pursue a career in academia by teaching other students.


Difference Between Physician and Doctor

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