Powerful Geography
Physician and Surgeon

Physician and Surgeon


Main Topic: Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Environment and Society

Overview: Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They often counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates.  There are two types of physicians, with similar degrees: M.D. (Medical Doctor) and D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). Both use the same methods of treatment, including drugs and surgery, but D.O.s place additional emphasis on the body's musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine, and holistic (whole-person) patient care. D.O.s are most likely to be primary care physicians, although they can be found in all specialties.  Physicians and surgeons work in one or more specialties. Physicians in healthcare establishments work daily with other healthcare staff, such as registered nurses, other physicians, medical assistants, and medical records and health information technicians.  Some physicians may choose to work in fields that do not involve patient care, such as medical research or public policy.

Geographic skills and knowledge are important for the medical field, as the prevalence of many diseases, the spread of certain diseases, and health care issues are related to location.  For example, some areas may have a high cancer rate, perhaps because of industrial pollution.  Understanding that link between health issues and place is important in the health care profession for disease prevention, treatment, and advising patients.

Geographers at work:  Health geographers, medical geographers, human geographers, cultural geographers

Recommended College Courses:  Human geography, physical geography, cultural geography, environmental geography, political geography; geographic information systems

Skills:  Web-based mapping applications; map reading and interpretation; geographic information systems; computer and database systems; geographic thinking; problem-based learning models

Occupation Group: Healthcare

Learn more about Physicians and Surgeons from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor:  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm#tab-1

Written by Christopher Anderson


Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses and address health maintenance.
Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses and address health maintenance.