The 19 Essential Functions of a Medical Doctor: What You Need to Know

Functions of a medical doctor
Functions of a medical doctor

What are the functions of a medical doctor?

This is exactly what this blog post is about: the functions of a medical doctor.



The medical doctor is very important in health care to the health services that have been provided.

Medical doctors are first of all, medical students. After writing their exams and obtaining their MBBS degree, they can now practice as doctors.

You need to read this post for tips on how to pass the different MBBS exams.

We will take some time to look at the duties and responsibilities that doctors perform.

Are Medical Doctors Important In Nigeria?

Yes, they are. That’s mainly because of the tasks that they perform.

19 Functions Of A Medical Doctor

1) They make diagnoses

People come to the hospital with a wide variety of ailments.

However, doctors are the ones who are trained to diagnose what kind of illness it is.

When someone comes to the hospital and complains to the doctor, the doctor takes a history.

The history is basically aimed at finding out where the patient’s complaints are coming from.

The complaints are about how they occur, how often they occur, and how they have affected the person.

It also looks at what makes the discomfort worse or better.

These are some of the questions the doctor asks when trying to decipher the patient’s exact symptoms.

At the end of the day, the doctor can make a diagnosis.

The diagnosis is the terminology used to explain what is actually wrong with the patient.

2) The doctor creates a treatment plan.

So once a doctor makes a diagnosis, he or she makes a treatment plan for the patient.

The treatment can be medical or non-medical.

It can also include a surgical procedure. For some treatment procedures, the doctor would talk about medications; for others, just lifestyle modifications.

Some lifestyle modification is recommended.

In some cases, medication may be required.

In some other cases, procedures and surgery may be required.

So it’s a doctor’s job to decide which one is right for the patient before prescribing medication.

So, once the diagnosis of the disease is made, it is the doctor’s job to decide on the medication that the patient needs to relieve his or her symptoms.

Medications are prescribed considering many factors such as age, gender, fertility and other factors

So, the doctor has to consider all these factors to choose the right medication for the patient.

3) The doctor performs physical examinations.

Physical examination is one of the ways that the doctor determines what is wrong with the patient when he is done taking the history.

He first does a general examination and then goes ahead to complete the physical examination.

In the general examination, he looks at the patient’s general appearance and demeanor.

He also looks at his gait, speech, and some other aspects of the patient that he can see with his eyes or perceive.

This gives him a quick clue as to what might be wrong with the patient.

The systemic examination breaks down into systems such as the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, the genitourinary system and so on.

The physician now examines these systems, especially those that are relevant to the patient’s complaints.

This helps him narrow down the patient’s complaints and make a good diagnosis.

4) He requests for tests to find out what is wrong with a patient.

The tests include laboratory tests. Some of them require blood samples, others urine samples.

Some others need other samples.

Also, others may be for radiological exams, such as chest xrays, ultrasound, CT scans or MRI.

So, when the physician senda for these examinations and the results are available, it further helps him determine the patient’s problem and come up with a treatment plan.

5)The medical doctor is involved in preventive health

Prevention is better than cure. It has been found that preventing diseases is much cheaper than treatment them when they occur.

When they do occur, you have to spend more money to take care of them.

You also struggle with the complications they have already caused, and sometimes they even lead to death.

So the physician is on the forefront of disease prevention.

These preventive services include health education, screenings and disease detection.

It also includes vaccinations.

It also includes talking to people about lifestyle changes to reduce the likelihood of disease.

6) The medical doctor is involved in management of chronic diseases.

Some diseases are chronic in the sense that they can last for years, sometimes a lifetime.

These include hypertension, diabetes, and even cancers.

So the physician is involved in the management of these diseases. He takes care of these patients and makes appointments with them for regular check-ups and treatments

They can return and are able to live their lives long despite these medical conditions.

7) The medical doctor advises patients on things to do to msintain a healthy lifestyle.

Lifestyle changes are very important to defeat some diseases.

So the doctor advises patients on what they can do and what lifestyle changes they need to make to reduce the chances of getting certain diseases.

Some of these lifestyle changes may be in the area of diet as well as exercise.

8) Referral to Specialists

No single doctor can know everything. That’s why there are different specialties in Medicine.

There are doctors who are responsible for children, known as Pediatricians.

There are Surgeons. There are Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

When a doctor sees a patient and determines that they need a specialist, they refer the patient to a person, a doctor, who can take care of that specialty.

At the end of the day, the patient has better medical care.

9) Medical doctors are involved in emergency care

These include injuries from accidents, burn injuries, hot water injuries, falls, various respiratory emergencies, even hypertensive and diabetic emergencies.

When this happens, they are taken to the hospital.

The doctors take care of them.

They take emergency measures the first time they report to the hospital to get the situation under control and make sure the patient survives without much complications.

10) They perform some minor surgical procedures

This depends on the type of doctor and the skills they possess.

11) Counseling

When a disease is diagnosed, the doctors counsel the patient about that diagnosis.

They do not just tell them what they have and then leave them alone; they give them as much information as they can to help the patient.

If necessary, they also talk to the family to inform them about the situation, what the patient’s chances are of living with the disease, and what to do to help the patient live longer despite the disease.

12) A medical doctor collaborates with other health care professionals to take good care of the patient.

Physicians work with other health care providers.

The medical team consists not only of Physicians, but also nurses, and so on.

So the physician works other professionals to provide holistic care for the patient.

So he makes sure that they are involved and do their best to treat the patient.

13) Medical doctors are involved in continuing education

Medicine is a rapidly evolving field with new things popping up every day.

Therefore, every physician needs to be up to date on what is happening in the field.

That’s why physicians attend these seminars and trainings.

The MDCN, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, even requires doctors to attend these Continuing Professional Development (CPD) trainings in order to successfully renew their license for each new year.

When doctors attend these seminars, medical doctors are actively involved in training other doctors.

So, when doctors get this training, they are able to stay up to date with the latest happenings of the medical field and they are able to treat their patients better.

14) Medical doctors are involved in research

This research is aimed at discovering the best way to treat or manage patients.

Therefore, research is done every day in different areas in the medical field.

These aim to improve patient care and also improve the treatments available to patients.

15) They also participate in educational programs and awareness activities.

Doctors usuallu participate in awareness programs where they talk to people, educate them about different diseases or health problems, and then give them advice on what to do

16) Doctors participate in medical outreaches organized in various communities.

In these outreaches, they take care of patients, take history, examine and deduce their problems, make diagnosis and write prescriptions.

17) Medical doctors provide palliative care for terminally ill patients.

This occurs when some patients have disease conditions that makes it difficult for them to live long.

These include patients with some cancers. The medical doctors attend to them till the end of life.

They offer two treatments for them.

a) They offer pain relievers, for instance, when needed, and other forms of treatment.

b) They also make sure these patients are as comfortable as they can be until they eventually die.

18) The medical doctor manages a medical practice, health facility or hospital.

The doctors are generally considered as the head of the medical team.

So in the hospitals, doctors basically are at the helm of affairs.

They also serve as medical directors in many hospital establishments.

19) They teach medical students or doctors in clinical settings.

Medical doctors are not just confined to the clinics.

They are also teachers in medical schools.

Many medical schools have medical doctors making up a large number of their teaching staff.

They also train residents who are undergoing their specialty training.


We have seen the different functions of a medical doctor.

It is important to note that these functions cannot be satisfactorily replaced by any other person and is most best provided by a medical doctor

Students with interest in becoming medical doctors should be encouraged to avail themselves of the opportunity as well as study and become doctors so that they’ll be able to help more people in the society.


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