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Hospital doctor: Job description

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Hospital doctors examine, diagnose and treat patients who have been referred to the hospital by GPs and other health professionals. They apply medical knowledge and skills to the diagnosis, prevention and management of disease.

Hospital doctors work in wards and outpatient clinics, predominantly in the public sector (National Health Service (NHS) ), but also in the private sector.

As well as treating patients, they refer them to a wide range of other healthcare professionals including nurses, radiographers, pharmacists and physiotherapists. Hospital doctors work within a number of specialties, of which the most common are:

  • anaesthetics;
  • emergency medicine;
  • general medicine;
  • general surgery;
  • obstetrics and gynaecology;
  • paediatrics;
  • psychiatry;
  • trauma and orthopaedics.

Typical work activities

Specific tasks depend on the specialty - a surgeon's daily tasks are significantly different from those of a doctor working in accident and emergency (A&E) or a general physician. However, the following responsibilities are likely to be carried out on a daily or weekly basis, regardless of the doctor's specialty:

  • monitoring and providing general care to patients on hospital wards and in outpatient clinics;
  • admitting patients requiring special care followed by investigations and treatment;
  • examining and talking to patients to diagnose their medical conditions;
  • carrying out specific procedures, e.g. performing operations and specialist investigations;
  • making notes and preparing paperwork, both as a legal record of treatment and for the benefit of other healthcare professionals; 
  • working with other doctors as part of a team, either in the same department or within other specialties;
  • liaising with other medical and non-medical staff in the hospital to ensure quality treatment;
  • promoting health education;
  • undertaking managerial responsibilities such as planning the workload and staffing of the department, especially at more senior levels;
  • teaching junior doctors and medical students, as well as auditing and research.

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Written by AGCAS editors
October 2013

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