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What is the work environment like for a doctor?

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February 12, 2011 12:22PM

The information in this answer was developed by interviewing several physicians and nurses in varied work settings. It isn't an all-inclusive response, but can provide some general information.

The work environment of a doctor varies according to the type of physician (general practice or a speciality, surgeon or office work, etc.) and his or her location. The one thing all medical work environments have in common is that they are usually busy and often stressful.

Almost all physicians work with someone, either in an office setting or in a medical facility, so professional work interactions are important. They are also interacting with the patient, the family of patients or others. Even veterinarians are interacting with pet owners and with office staff. Research physicians must talk to others in the lab and sometimes they must explain their findings in order to receive financial support. So, the environment that a physician works in nearly always involves communication in challenging situations.

A positive aspect (from a physician's viewpoint) of almost every physician's work is that doctors are respected for their education and their abilities to help others. In most medical work settings doctors have the highest professional status while even highly trained and well-respected nurses and others have a supportive role and thus, less professional status in the minds of many.

Even when the work of a doctor is heavy and there is a lot of pressure, nearly always there are others who are supporting him or her by keeping the work area clean, providing tools and supplies and ensuring that the doctor can get his or her work done. The work environment of a physician is designed to be efficient and effective for medical work. The waiting areas may be focused on the patient but the working areas are focused on providing the supplies, work spaces and work environment in general that the medical practitioner and his or her associates need to be effective.

That is what makes medical work in emergencies or in nontraditional settings, so difficult. The supplies, assistance and even the cleanliness to be expected, may not be there and the doctor has to work around those circumstances to still be effective.

In summary, there is no typical work environment for a physician because it will vary according to many circumstances. However, all of medical work environments involve mental concentration and a degree of pressure, combined with the need to interact with others effectively.