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A Doctor of medicine has the profession of curing or easing the suffering of others.

Doctors in all countries must pass through many years of training to qualify. In the UK a doctor's training normally follows this path:

  1. Degree level Preclinical - Doctors must study medicine in university or medical school for two to three years 'preclinical' (meaning little patient contact). However following recommendations by the British Medical Association (BMA) many universities are following a 'Problem-based learning' approach, which stresses basing the studies around actual patient cases.
  2. Clinical - This time is spent in a teaching hospital and typically lasts two or three years. After this is completed the student doctor is awarded a Bachelor of Medicine (BM) and Bachelor of Surgery (BChir)
  3. House Officer (HO) - At this stage the student is allowed provisional registration as a junior doctor, but must complete two, six month periods as a house officer in a hospital.
  4. Senior house officer (SHO) - This lasts to to three years. The doctor is now officialy registered and must complete the time in a clinical possition in a hospital.

At this stage the doctor can choose becoming a General Practitioner (GP) or a hospital doctor. The vast majority in the UK work as the former, who diagnose minor illnesses and refer patients for further exmanination with specialists. Hospital doctors get promoted from SHOs to Registra, and eventualy to Consultant.

However medicine is an extremly varied profession and lots of options are available. Some doctors work in pharmaceutical research, Occupational medicine (within a company), Public Health medicine (working for the general health of a population in an area), or join the armed forces.

The term Doctor is also used to describe someone who holds a 'Doctor of Philosophy' (PhD) academic degree. PhD's are awarded in most academic disciplines.

Some medical doctors also hold PhD's, typically those who go on to take research as a career.