Physician and Surgeon

Physicians are health care professionals that diagnose and treat injuries, disorders and diseases. They examine patients, prescribe medications, take medical histories, order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests, and administer surgical and non-surgical treatments. Physicians are experts in human body function and structure, medical tools, techniques and processes, and all kinds of human diseases, disorders and dysfunctions. They are often the decision-makers and leaders in health care teams.

The profession “Physician” describes a large group of health care professionals divided into multiple specialties, each focusing on a different patient, disease, body part, or medical technique. Some of these specialties include:

  • Anesthesiologists
  • Surgeons
  • Family Physicians
  • Pediatricians 
  • Obstetricians and Gynecologists 
  • Psychiatrists
  • General Internists

Due to their broad scope of practice, physicians can diagnose and treat a vast amount of disease, disorders and dysfunctions, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Infections from viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites
  • Injuries from minor scrapes to major trauma
  • Acquired and genetic diseases and disorders
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease 
  • Cancer
  • Chronic and acute pain

Physicians work in settings throughout healthcare. This includes private offices and clinics, larger health care groups and organizations, and hospitals and outpatient centers. Physicians provide a variety of health care services with a staff of nurses, medical assistants and often alongside other physicians and health care professionals. Some of these services include:

  • Promote patient health by providing diet, hygiene, preventative health care, self-treatment and lifestyle advice.
  • Prescribing, applying and providing medication.
  • Diagnosing and treating diseases, disorders, dysfunctions and deformities using medication surgery or non-surgical treatments, therapy and counselling.
  • Monitoring and assessing patients’ health.
  • Delivering babies during childbirth.
  • Ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic tests.
  • Recommending, designing and implementing treatment plans.
  • Promoting public health through government policy and public education.
  • Helping patients make informed health care decisions and answering health care-related concerns questions.
  • Providing medical assistance during emergencies.
  • Managing health care teams.
  • Counselling patients and family members on how to manage the disease or condition after treatment.

In Ontario, “Physician” is a regulated profession subject to the Clinical Practice Guidelines, Policies and Practice Guide defined by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario. For more information on regulatory colleges, view our What is a Regulatory College page.