Difference Between a Physician & a Doctor

Physician vs Doctor

Taking over-the-counter drugs for an extended period can be unwise, and it’s often better to consult a doctor. People commonly use the terms physician and doctor interchangeably, but are they the same thing? This article delves into the differences between these two healthcare provider titles.


A dictionary definition of the word physician describes a healthcare provider trained in diagnosing and prescribing medications to treat various illnesses’ symptoms. People typically schedule appointments with their physician when experiencing symptoms, signaling potential health issues. If a physician feels a patient requires a specialist’s attention, they can refer them to one.

Becoming a physician requires passing an entrance examination and completing four years of medical school. After earning a bachelor’s degree, the student becomes a premed. They then need to study for an additional four years to become a doctor qualified to diagnose patients and prescribe medications, becoming a physician or doctor of medicine.


Upon becoming a physician, a student can choose to specialize in a specific field of medicine. This requires two more years of rigorous study and training in their chosen field to earn a post-bachelor degree. This specialization qualifies them as an MD and a specialist in surgery, orthopedics, gynecology, dermatology, ENT, or another medical field. A doctor is a healthcare provider one step above a physician, having completed an additional 2-3 years of study and earning a master’s degree, making them a super specialist in their field of medicine.

Key Takeaways

  • A physician is a doctor qualified to diagnose and prescribe medications to treat their patients.
  • A physician has completed four years of undergraduate studies in a premed school and another four years in medical school to be eligible to work as a physician.
  • Students who want to study further can specialize in their chosen field of medicine for an additional 2-3 years, becoming specialist doctors such as gynecologists, cardiac surgeons, orthopedic doctors, and more.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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