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How the role of doctors is changing

Friday 27th March 2015
A number of factors mean that the role of doctors has changed, and will continue to over the next few years. Image Credit: Jupiter
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    The role of doctors has significantly changed over the past few decades, and it's unlikely that this metamorphosis will stop anytime soon. Although the number of patients assigned to each doctors has decreased since the 1930s or 1940s, the standard of care expected from these professionals has undoubtedly increased. 

    In modern day medicine, there are also far more targets to hit and ways for bodies to judge the performance of hospital consultants and GPs. Despite the significant change in the role of doctors, thousands still apply to universities across the country to get the relevant qualifications, indicating that the profession is still attracting people into it.

    With this in mind, some of the changes happening to the role of doctors may actually be what is attracting the new wave of professional, enabling them to get a much more well-rounded set of skills, compared to ten or 20 years ago.

    So what factors are changing the role of doctors in the UK?

    Preventative medicine

    They say prevention is cheaper than the cure, and this is especially true for people who are wanting to enter medicine. A few decades ago, the main role of a doctor was to treat the conditions, ailments or problems they were faced with, but now consultants and GPs alike are expected to identify high-risk patients and lower their danger. 

    This is most obviously seen in the attitudes held towards health problems such as obesity, cancer and heart disease. Although there may not be anything physically wrong with a patient, if they present symptoms that suggest they are at a high risk of developing one of these events, it's the role of doctors to tell them ways they can lower their risk. This is essential when it comes to reducing the burden of these issues on the healthcare service.

    Shifting the responsibility of doctors more towards preventing illnesses has seen more investment in imaging techniques or blood tests that can enable faster and earlier diagnosis. 

    Take in the bigger picture

    With preventative medicine being such a strong focus for doctors, many healthcare professionals are now expected to take a patient's entire life into account when making any diagnosis. Far from just dealing with the problem a person complains of, doctors now have to ask the right questions to determine the bigger picture of the patient's health to make a more accurate diagnosis.

    This enables doctors to become more invested in a patient, and use all of the information they have at hand to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend the best approach.

    For many of the thousands of people that want to become doctors each year, whether in a hospital or practice, these are the very reasons that they want to go into the field. Although it may sound like the role of doctors is taking on more and more, this allows professionals to become more involved with their patients and get down to the root cause of the problems they are having. This enables them to make a real difference of the health and the lives of the people they see.

    It is the fact that the role of doctors is constantly changing and evolving, allowing professionals to make more informed decisions about their patients, that so many people want to now train in this area.

    Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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