• The Roles of Physicians: Who Are the Students, Interns, Residents, and Doctors in the Healthcare Facility?

    The Roles of Physicians: Who Are the Students, Interns, Residents, and Doctors in the Healthcare Facility?

    There are differences between the levels and the names of doctors in the medical field. Whether you’re a medical student, intern, resident, fellow, or attending, the roles of physicians in a doctor hierarchy change as students progress from interns to fully trained physicians. Below is a guide to clarify the roles and education levels of the different physicians present in a healthcare facility.

    Medical Student

    Medical students are not considered doctors or physicians until after they’ve graduated from medical school. These aspiring physicians have not received a medical degree and have the least experience because they’re still learning.


    During the first year of post-medical school training, aspiring physicians are considered interns. Medical interns directly interact with the medical students during clinical rotations and rotate through various specialties in the healthcare facility. Interns are unable to practice unsupervised medicine and are obligated to practice within the limitations of their registered training program.


    After the internship year and successfully passing a third level exam, interns are now considered residents. Residency times differ, depending on the medical specialty. For example, emergency medicine residency can last about three to four years, while surgical residencies can last seven years.1 The difference between interns and residents is that the residents help lead the interns, which also help lead the medical students. Medical residents can also work moonlighting jobs for extra income during their program.


    Physicians can pursue further training in their field with a fellowship. Each medical specialty has fellowships that can last one to two years. For example, after a general surgery residency, physicians are fully qualified to perform general surgery. For more specific training, a general surgeon chooses a fellowship among several sub-specialties such as pediatric surgery or trauma surgery.


    Once residency is complete, a physician is considered an attending. Attending physicians head the residents, interns, and medical students. They have completed training and may practice independently in their chosen specialty and have the most experience in the doctor hierarchy. These doctors are also known as staff physicians or rendering doctors who can be trained as an MD or a DO.

    While becoming a physician or a doctor is a long process, training facilities staff different levels of doctors who are honing their craft and learning how to be the healthcare official that they can be. Sometimes physicians choose locum tenens jobs for greater diversity and changes in their field. If you have interest in temporary healthcare job placement, the specialists at our locum tenens staffing agency in Houston can help. We can discuss the different roles of physicians, working as a locum tenens physician, locum tenens pay rates, emergency medicine salary, and much more. Contact our recruitment consultants at Mint Physician Staffing today.



    Locum Tenens Salary Guide



    1. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis – Residency Roadmap: Emergency Medicine
    Ashley Coley
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Ashley Coley