Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Physician and Doctor

Physician vs Doctor.

“If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.”

This is one of the statements commonly heard by health aficionados. The reminder can be seen in almost all commercials for medicines and vitamins. Then again, when patients experience a recurrence of symptoms, they dial the number of their physicians to set an appointment for a consultation.

So which one is more proper to visit: the doctor or the physician?
Perhaps it is more proper to ask whether there is indeed a difference between a doctor and a physician.
Various medical books and other references imply that physicians have the responsibility to provide patient care after thorough diagnosis which should be based from the interviews with patients and a physical examination. They may also give tidbits of knowledge on how their patients can maintain wellness and prevent diseases.

Physicians also have the power to determine the urgency of follow-up checkups and appointments and prescribe medications and treatments as well. Simply put, it is the physician that patients consult whenever they feel something is wrong about their bodies. Physicians plan the treatment for the disease based on the observed symptoms and diagnosis. They may also refer the patients to specialists.

Judging from the list of the physician’s duties and responsibilities, it is just proper to assume that physicians and doctors are the same. True enough, the two terms can be used interchangeably in many instances. Note, however, that all physicians are doctors but not all doctors are physicians.
To become a physician, students from medical school need a 3.8 GPA that would get them into 4 years for a bachelor’s degree in college which can be considered as their pre-med. Taking the MCATS and garnering a good passing rate would allow the students to get into four more years of medical school proper. After these four years, they would automatically become a doctor of medicine or a physician.

Continuing their studies for a two- to five-year specialization or residency, however, can get them into specific fields of medicine still being a doctor but no longer just as a physician. They may opt to specialize in surgery, oncology, or dermatology. They are labelled as doctors but not a physician. That’s where the difference is drawn: Physicians have completed 8 years of medical school, but doctors with specialization have taken 11-13 years of studying.
In a nutshell, doctors can be a physician, dermatologist, oncologist, dentist, orthopaedic, pediatrician, etc. Physicians, then, become a subclassification of doctors.

Their job requirements may also differ. Physicians need a medical degree from medical schools accredited and recognized by the state. They may also need to present current DEA and DPS Certificates of Registration along with proof that they have completed a minimum of two years’ internship. Doctors also have the same requirements. However, additional internship experience is needed whenever they choose to work under their specialization. Additional exams and certifications also serve as a prerequisite depending on the state they are residing in.

Lastly, doctors and physicians can differ in their methods of curing patients. Physicians use drugs and medicines to make their patients feel well. Doctors, on the other hand, can perform surgery and more comprehensive medical procedures. With this, anyone can derive the difference that the term “doctor” can be taken by those who have completed doctoral programs in medical schools regardless of their specializations. “Physician,” on the other hand, applies only to those who completed their doctorate in the practice of medicine.


1.“Physicians” and “doctors” can be used interchangeably because a physician is a doctor. Not all doctors, however, are physicians.
2.Physicians have finished degrees for pre-med and medical school proper. Doctors have completed two to five more years of residency after graduating from medical school proper.
3.Doctors have more requirements than physicians in terms of internships and certificates.
4.Physicians cure with drugs and medication while doctors may cure using surgery and more comprehensive medical procedures.

Search DifferenceBetween.net :

Custom Search

Help us improve. Rate this post! 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (12 votes, average: 3.33 out of 5)

Email This Post Email This Post : If you like this article or our site. Please spread the word. Share it with your friends/family.


  1. Your information is incorrect. A Physician is a higher level than a doctor. The Physician gets the specializations. For example, an Opthamologist is a Physician, but an Optometrist is a Doctor.

  2. Thumbs up I enjoyed reading it.

  3. Very useful

  4. In Sept last year (2015) I had open heart surgery after a heart attack resulting in a new aorta valve, two by-passes (5 blockages) and a pacemaker. I am left with “brain fog” and the best answer my gp can give me to date is that the bf may last up to 2-3 years or for the rest of my life. I am not happy with that prognosis and I would like someone who knows to tell me what to do or what type of specialist to consult. Please.

    • Hi,I’m sorry to hear of your ordeal..it seems a cardiologist is best fit to give you clarity and perhaps a permanent fix to the pacemaker problem.If you in gauteng I would recommend mill park hospital,,they have the best of all desciplines.goodluck

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Articles on DifferenceBetween.net are general information, and are not intended to substitute for professional advice. The information is "AS IS", "WITH ALL FAULTS". User assumes all risk of use, damage, or injury. You agree that we have no liability for any damages.

See more about :
Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Finder