What Does a Doctor Do? - Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:03 What is a Doctor?
  • 0:27 The Job of a Doctor
  • 1:15 Other Types of Doctors
  • 2:34 Example
  • 3:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor
Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Expert Contributor
Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

Have you ever wondered what doctors do all day long? Come and learn about the different types of doctors, including doctors in the office, hospital, and lab, and what their jobs are.

What Is a Doctor?

Sometimes when you get sick, all you need is to sleep and drink plenty of fluids. Other times, you need to see a doctor, a specially trained and licensed medical professional. The type of doctor that children see is called a pediatrician, while an adult usually goes to a primary care physician. Let's take a look at some of the basic duties involved in the role of a doctor.

The Job of a Doctor

Let's say you're visiting your pediatrician, Dr. Bee, because you haven't been feeling so great lately. After the nurse has run some basic tests on you, the doctor comes in. The doctor will ask you a few questions about your symptoms and examine you. Next, Dr. Bee will make a diagnosis, which is when the doctor uses test results and info about your symptoms to determine what illness you have. Think of a doctor as a detective--both use a series of clues to find an answer.

Sometimes, your diagnosis is easy, like a cold, strep throat, or ear infection. In these cases, the doctor might write you a prescription and send you home. Other times, the doctor may have to work with other types of doctors to come up with a diagnosis and a solution to your illness.

Other Types of Doctors

Doctors work in many different types of settings--not just in doctor's offices. For instance, they may work in emergency rooms, specialty clinics, and even laboratories.

Specialists

Doctors who are specialists specialize on a certain area of medicine or a particular body part. For example, dermatologists treats the skin, cardiologists treat the heart, and pulmonologists treat the lungs.

Emergency Room Doctors

Have you ever gone to the emergency room? It can feel pretty scary, but there are emergency room doctors there to help when something unexpected happens, and they're specially trained to deal with things like broken bones and bad cuts.

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Additional Activities

A Day as a Doctor

In this lesson, students will choose a doctor to research and write a dialog between a doctor and a patient. They will also likely need to do some research on a condition the doctor might treat, so that the dialog can be accurate. Point students towards reliable sources like Mayo Clinic or WebMD with assistance if needed.

Examples

For example, a student might choose an orthopedist and a patient with a sprained ankle. The dialog might include the patient describing symptoms like a specific injury to the ankle, swelling and pain. Then the doctor might order tests, make a diagnosis and describe the treatment plan to the patient. For a sprained ankle, this could include a bandage, crutches, ice and immobilization. Students should include pleasantries and write out the dialog as it would actually happen. The dialog might look like:

Orthopedist: Good afternoon, Mr. Smith. What brings you in today?

Mr. Smith: Hello, doctor. Well, last week I was playing basketball and I slipped on some wet leaves. I twisted my ankle and went down hard! Since then, my ankle has been swollen and I can't put much weight on it. I'm worried it's broken!

Orthopedist: Well, let me take a look. (Doctor examines the ankle). I'm looking at your X-rays here on the computer and it looks like there's not a break, so that's good news. I am diagnosing you with a bad sprain.

The conversation would continue like this until all of the requirements are met for the student.

Student Instructions

Now that you know about some different types of doctors, it's time to dive a little deeper into their work. In this creative writing activity, you will be writing a dialog between a doctor and a patient. You will need to research a specific type of doctor to learn what they do, as well as a condition they might be able to treat. To make sure your dialog has all the requirements, review the criteria for success before starting.

Criteria for Success

  • Dialog is at least 500 words
  • Dialog focuses on one specific type of doctor (such an emergency doctor, a cardiologist, or a surgeon)
  • Dialog includes the symptoms of the patient, a diagnosis by the doctor, and a recommendation for treatment
  • Dialog should include pleasantries and have an authentic feel

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