The Difference Between a Physician and a Surgeon

All physicians practicing in the United States get an identical instruction, whether they attend medical school and become an M.D., or an osteopathic school and eventually become a D.O. But most will pursue specialized training in a specific field of medicine. Many of these areas of practice include surgery, and their professionals are referred to as surgeons. People who perform little or no operation are only referred to as physicians. All surgeons are doctors, but not all physicians are surgeons.
Training Similarities and Differences

All doctors begin their careers in a four-year undergraduate pre-medical program, getting a bachelor of science degree that meets the requirements for medical or osteopathic college. Those schools represent the next phase, a four-year doctorate combining hands-on clinical expertise with classroom education in physiology, pharmacology, organic chemistry, medical ethics and related subjects.

At graduation, the newly minted doctor should choose an accredited residency program in one or a different region of practice. This is where career paths for physicians and surgeons diverge. Physicians invest their residencies practicing medicine under the supervision of experienced professionals, while surgeons invest theirs studying a range of surgical methods appropriate to their specialty.
What Physicians Do

Physicians may be experts or clinic primary care. Primary care physicians are generalists, such as family physicians, gynecologists and pediatricians. Physicians New York build long-term relationships with their patients, advising them on health and lifestyle options, as well as treating their illnesses.

Experts focus on specific diseases, like cancers or breathing ailments, or certain parts of the body, such as the digestive system or heart. They generally see patients for specific conditions, instead of providing general care. The two types of doctors treat disorders, injuries and other conditions with medications, physical therapy and other non-surgical techniques.
What Surgeons Do

Surgeons perform many of the same responsibilities as other physicians, documenting patients’ medical histories and diagnosing disorders, injuries and other conditions. However, while doctors’ therapies typically encourage the body to cure itself, surgeons act directly to correct ailments, injuries and deformities.

Working through open incisions in the conventional way with scalpels, or using small instruments inserted into the body through delicate tubes or, increasingly, with the assistance of robots, surgeons cut, fuse and reshape the body’s tissues to restore proper functioning. General surgeons may operate on any portion of the body. Many surgeons specialize, though, either on one part of their body or on diseases such as cancer.