Working as a Doctor

Learn about what a physician does, the employment prospects in Ontario and the rewards of the job.

Physician Job Description

Doctors work to improve the health and well-being of individuals. A physician evaluates symptoms, runs tests to diagnose a patient’s condition and then prescribes medication or treatment to remedy the illness or injury. A physician also counsels patients and/or members of the community on how to prevent illness. For example, a doctor may be involved in a local campaign to stop smoking. Family doctors are general practitioners that are often a patient’s first point of contact, whereas specialists (such as cardiologists or obstetricians) focus on one area of care. Physicians need to be good communicators, committed to their work and have a desire for lifelong learning.

Work Settings

Physicians can choose to practise in a variety of settings, including solo or group practices, family health teams, hospitals, community care centres, public health units, academic research centres, labs, private industry and government. Increasingly, physicians work collaboratively with other types of heath care providers in interprofessional teams to deliver quality care.

Job Prospects

Job prospects are excellent in Ontario. Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are beginning to retire and there is a growing demand for physicians in underserviced areas of the province, including rural and northern locations. In short, the province needs more doctors, especially family doctors. Doctors can find available positions by searching HFOJobs.


A physician’s job offers a great deal of career satisfaction. The rewards include:

  • Compensation: Doctors are well compensated for their services. They are, for the most part, independent entrepreneurs able to incorporate themselves as a business for tax purposes. Earning potential varies depending on specialty, sector, location and other factors.
  • Restoring Health: Doctors get tremendous satisfaction from helping patients recover from illness or injury.
  • Maintaining Health: Often, physicians practise preventative medicine, counselling patients on disease prevention and wellness to help them maintain good health.
  • Teaching: Doctors have the opportunity to mentor students and new physicians, and educate their patients about their health issues.
  • Research: Some physicians undertake medical research, studying disease, potential treatments or the safety and effectiveness of a medication.
  • Problem-Solving: Each day, doctors are challenged to solve the health problems of patients. A doctor uses a patient’s history, symptoms and diagnostic tests to find the cause of a problem and determine the best course of treatment.
  • Continuous Learning: New surgical techniques, medical technologies and medications are always being developed so physicians engage in learning throughout their entire career.
  • Building Relationships: Over time, physicians build relationships with their patients. They also establish strong professional ties other members of the interdisciplinary health care team, including physician assistants.

Find out more about becoming a doctor