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Become An Attending Physician

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Working As An Attending Physician

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Stressful

  • Make Decisions

  • $165,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Attending Physician Do

An Attending Physician typically supervises fellows, residents, medical students, and other practitioners. They are responsible for supervising each patient every day, reviewing treatment plans with residents, and supervising patient management documents.

How To Become An Attending Physician

Physicians and surgeons have demanding education and training requirements. Almost all physicians complete at least 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and, depending on their specialty, 3 to 7 years in internship and residency programs.


Most applicants to medical school have at least a bachelor's degree, and many have advanced degrees. Although no specific major is required, all students must complete undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English. Students also take courses in the humanities and social sciences. In addition, some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to gain experience in a healthcare setting.

Medical schools are highly competitive. Most applicants must submit transcripts, scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and letters of recommendation. Schools also consider an applicant’s personality, leadership qualities, and participation in extracurricular activities. Most schools require applicants to interview with members of the admissions committee.

A few medical schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last 6 or 7 years.

Students spend most of the first 2 years of medical school in laboratories and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics, and the laws governing medicine. They also gain practical skills, learning to take medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses.

During their last 2 years, medical students work with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals and clinics. Through rotations in internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery, they gain experience in diagnosing and treating illnesses in a variety of areas.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Physicians and surgeons need to be excellent communicators. They must be able to communicate effectively with their patients and other healthcare support staff.

Compassion. Physicians and surgeons deal with patients who are sick or injured and may be in extreme pain or distress. Physicians and surgeons must be able to treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding.

Detail oriented. Physicians and surgeons must ensure that patients are receiving appropriate treatment and medications. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Dexterity. Physicians and surgeons must be good at working with their hands. They may work with very precise and sometimes sharp tools, and mistakes can have serious consequences.

Leadership skills. Physicians who work in their own practice need to be effective leaders. They must be able to manage a staff of other professionals to run their practice.

Organizational skills. Some physicians own their own practice. Strong organizational skills, including good recordkeeping, are critical in both medical and business settings.

Patience. Physicians and surgeons may work for long periods with patients who need special attention. Persons who fear medical treatment may require more patience.

Physical stamina. Physicians and surgeons should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting or turning disabled patients. Surgeons may spend a great deal of time bending over patients during surgery.

Problem-solving skills. Physicians and surgeons need to evaluate patients’ symptoms and administer the appropriate treatments. They need to do this quickly if a patient’s life is threatened.


After medical school, almost all graduates enter a residency program in their specialty of interest. A residency usually takes place in a hospital and varies in duration, generally lasting from 3 to 7 years, depending on the specialty.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require physicians and surgeons to be licensed; requirements vary by state. To qualify for a license, candidates must graduate from an accredited medical school and complete residency training in their specialty.

All physicians and surgeons also must pass a standardized national licensure exam. M.D.s take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). D.O.s take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). For specific state information about licensing, contact your state’s medical board. 

Certification is not required for physicians and surgeons; however, it may increase their employment opportunities. M.D.s and D.O.s seeking board certification in a specialty may spend up to 7 years in residency training; the length of time varies with the specialty. To become board certified, candidates must complete a residency program and pass a specialty certification exam from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), or the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).

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Attending Physician Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • Chinese

  • French

  • Russian

  • Mandarin

  • Hindi

  • Portuguese

  • Polish

  • Bulgarian

  • Urdu

  • Vietnamese

  • Norwegian

  • Lithuanian

  • Armenian

  • Macedonian

  • Persian

  • Bengali

  • Arabic

  • Ukrainian

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Attending Physician

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Attending Physician Education

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Real Attending Physician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
HPB Surgery Attending Physician Charlotte Mecklenburge Hospital Authority Charlotte, NC Jan 01, 2015 $360,000 -
Attending Physician-Surgeon (Foot/Ankle; Trauma; & Spine) Faculty Physicians & Surgeons of Llusm Loma Linda, CA Jun 30, 2016 $350,000
Attending Physician North Arkansas Pain Management, P.A. Cherokee Village, AR Jul 01, 2015 $350,000
Attending Physician North Arkansas Pain Management Batesville, AR Feb 11, 2016 $350,000
Attending Physician, Gastroenterology University Hospitals Medical Group, Inc. Westlake, OH Oct 17, 2016 $350,000
Attending Physician, Surgeon Faculty Physicians &Amp; Surgeons of Llusm D/B/A Loma Linda University FAC Loma Linda, CA Jan 02, 2016 $350,000
Attending Physician, Anesthesiology Pinnacle Mid-Atlantic Anesthesia Associates, PC Easton, PA Jan 07, 2016 $350,000
Attending Physician, Anesthesiology Pinnacle Mid-Atlantic Anesthesia Associates, PC Vineland, NJ Jan 07, 2016 $350,000
Attending Physician/Gastroenterology University Hospitals Medical Group, Inc. Westlake, OH Jul 01, 2015 $350,000
Attending Physician Interfaith Medical Center New York, NY Apr 03, 2015 $333,920
Attending Physician CHMC Surgical Foundation Boston, MA Jun 20, 2016 $330,000
Per Diem Attending Physician Montefiore Medical Center New York, NY Jul 15, 2016 $208,700
Attending Physician IX-Neonatology John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County/Cook County Chicago, IL Nov 14, 2016 $208,116
Attending Physician-Neonatologist Winthrop University Hospital Mineola, NY Jan 07, 2016 $207,500
Attending Physician, Hematology-Oncology John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County/Cook County Chicago, IL Oct 15, 2015 $204,424
Attending Physician New York University School of Medicine New York, NY Jan 03, 2016 $204,216
Attending Physician Physician Affiliate Group of New York, P.C. New York, NY May 01, 2015 $202,592
Attending Physician San Joaquin General Hospital French Camp, CA Jul 23, 2015 $176,461
Attending Physician (Internal Medicine) The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital Herkimer, NY Oct 24, 2015 $175,579
Attending Physician Northwell Health New York, NY Jan 07, 2016 $175,000
Attending Physician, Geriatrician University Hospitals Medical Group, Inc. Cleveland, OH Apr 20, 2016 $175,000
Attending Physician Faculty Physicians &Amp; Surgeons of Llusm D/B/A Loma Linda University FAC Loma Linda, CA Jan 31, 2016 $175,000
Associate Attending Physician Mount Sinai Medical Center Yonkers, NY Jul 01, 2015 $175,000
Attending Physician (Geriatrics) University Hospitals Medical Group, Inc. Cleveland, OH Jul 01, 2015 $175,000
Attending Physician Montefiore Medical Center New York, NY Sep 22, 2015 $175,000

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Top Skills for An Attending Physician


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Top Attending Physician Skills

  1. Internal Medicine
  2. Emergency Medicine
  3. Clinical Research
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Practiced Internal Medicine and Pediatrics office and hospital based
  • Core Faculty Department of Emergency Medicine
  • Lead: Responsible for design, implementation, and analysis of various clinical research studies.
  • Tended to approximately 20-25 inpatients per day with ongoing primary care.
  • Monitored patients' vital signs during surgery as well as in the first stage of recovery.

Top Attending Physician Employers

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