Diagnostician Overview


A diagnostician is a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats medical conditions and solves complex medical mysteries. All doctors are technically diagnosticians because they diagnose ailments, but usually a hospital has its own diagnostics area. Solving medical issues means that doctors must examine patients, run test, and review results to cross out all possibilities.

While hospitals have defined diagnosticians, there is actually no clearly defined path for how to become a diagnostician and diagnostic medicine is not a board-recognized medical specialty. You just need to become a highly educated M.D. that can perform on a high level and solve complex issues. 




Diagnosticians have a list of duties. They are highly trained medical doctors and must function at a high level. Not only must they meet all the administrative duties a doctor must, they also have to stay current on medicine and new diseases as they troubleshoot and solve sometimes complex issues. Their duties involve, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Examine patients

  • Run tests

  • Review patient histories

  • Interview patient if possible

  • Find clues and fill gaps to solve problems

  • Review test results

  • Diagnose

  • Treat ailments and prescribe medication

  • Follow up





Must be able to clearly explain test results and treatment path to patients. Must correspond with other members of the medical team to ensure the best care for the patient. 


Monitoring/Assessing patient to make sure they are responding well to treatment and make improvements or take corrective action when necessary. 

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Detail Oriented 

Must be able to pinpoint small details that could make or break patient diagnosis and evaluation. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. This is one of the most important functions of their job because they are the doctors that diagnose and solve hard to solve issues.


Must be able to empathize with a patient's pain and difficulties. Need to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves since they deal with serious medical needs. 


Must know all about the human body and interactions it has with it's environment. Must know chemicals and reactions. Must have a high-level knowledge of all the sciences. 


Must be able to hypothesize and test theories to ensure that the proper diagnosis is found and the best treatment path is taken. 


Must be able to put in long hours and have patience when it comes to trying to solve complex medical issues. 


Working Conditions


Diagnosticians work in variety of health care settings. They mainly work in hospitals where they can oversee many patients and help solve medical mysteries. They can work in a private practice, either alone or as part of a larger medical practice group, small clinics, and other medical facilities since they are medical doctors. Others work in research at universities and put in long hours to further medical discovery. 

Usually they can work long hours and be on-call. They have a stressful job and hold a ton of responsibilities. They can work anywhere from 40 to 80+ hours a week depending on certain variables. It's not a job for those who can't handle pressure or hate working nights. They can work nights, weekends, holidays-- basically any day they are needed. 


Salary Outlook

How to Become a Diagnostician:


1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)


The first step on the path to becoming an diagnostic doctor (M.D.) is to earn a bachelor's degree in an undergraduate pre-med program. While each medical school has different requirements for admission, they all focus on certain common areas of study, including:

  • Anatomy

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Calculus

  • Organic Chemistry

  • Physics

A minimum of 3 years of undergraduate completion is required before applying to medical school while maintaining a high GPA (3.6+). Due to the competitive nature of these programs, the candidates with the most success are well-rounded with work, volunteer, extracurricular, and shadowing experience as well.

If you have three years of college but no bachelor’s degree, you can still be accepted to medical school. There are post-baccalaureate programs designed to help students catch up by providing the courses needed to apply to medical school. For applying, you must submit a copy of transcripts from any college and/or graduate school you’ve attended. You’ll also need letters of recommendation and scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). If you aren’t satisfied with your MCAT scores, you can retake the exam. The American Medical College Application Service can help with submitting one application to multiple medical schools.

All college students planning to enter medical school should take certain courses, regardless of their undergraduate major. Different medical schools may have varying requirements, so the following is intended as a basic guide.


The preparation timeline below outlines the suggested courses:


Freshman Year

  • General Biology I & Lab

  • General Biology II & Lab

  • General Chemistry I & Lab

  • General Chemistry II & Lab

  • Calculus I

  • Calculus II

  • Electives

Sophomore Year

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab

  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab

  • Social Sciences Requirements

  • Electives & Courses to Satisfy Your Major

  • Begin MCAT Studies

Junior Year

  • Physics I & Lab

  • Physics II & Lab

  • Electives & Courses to Satisfy Your Major

  • Request Application from the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS)

  • Register for the MCAT

Senior Year

  • Complete Required Graduation Coursework

  • Upper level kinesiology 

  • Upper level biology

  • Upper level chemistry

  • remaining pre-requisites 

  • Prepare for Interviews 

  • Search for Scholarships, Loans, Grants and Other Funding Options

Extracurricular activities are strongly encouraged, as well. Some suggested activities might include participating in a pre-health advisory program or joining other clubs and organizations. You may also consider establishing a relationship with a local doctor who would allow you to shadow him or her for a few days.


2. Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)


To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.


The MCAT is divided into four sections:


Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

  • 59 multiple-choice questions

  • 95 minutes

  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry

Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

  • 59 multiple-choice questions

  • 95 minutes

  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics

Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior

  • 59 multiple-choice questions

  • 95 minutes

  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology

Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills

  • 53 multiple-choice questions

  • 90 minutes

  • Tests reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences


You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the AAMC website here.


3. Earn a Medical Degree (4 Years)


A list of accredited medical education programs is available through the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). For more information and advice on successfully getting into medical school, you can check with the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Medical school consists of four years of studying the basics in science and participating in clinical “rotations.” These are hands-on clinical experiences in real health care settings. In most med schools, the first two years are taken up with classroom studies before students are assigned to do rotations. The current trend, however, finds a number of medical schools exposing students to early clinical experiences that continue throughout the four-year program.

Most medical schools base their curriculum on a system-based approach that focuses on one physiological system at a time, such as the respiratory system or the nervous system. Still others may use a case-based curriculum that teaches about the human body’s normal functioning and disease processes by assigning students to following individual patient cases from start to finish. Still other med schools use a combination of these approaches to educate their students.

The most common lines of coursework among medical schools consist of the following subjects:

  • Anatomy

  • Biochemistry

  • Ethics

  • Pharmacology

  • Physiology

  • Psychology

During the last two years of schooling, students are required to obtain hands-on experience at hospitals and clinics, learning to diagnose and treat patients while working under the supervision of licensed physicians. Here you will focus more on diagnostics and all the duties you will face as a diagnostician. 

Upon completion of four years of med school, a student is awarded a medical degree (M.D.). Another popular trend is for schools to offer combination degree programs, such as MD/MPH, MD/PHD or MD/JD. The AAMC’s website on Medical School Admission Requirements offers more information on this option.


4. Take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)


In order to practice medicine, aspiring geriatricians must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). This exam is sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

The exam consists of three steps:

Step & Purpose

Format & Other Info

Step 1

Assesses the ability to apply scientific concepts, basic to practicing medicine, emphasizing mechanisms underlying health, disease, and therapy.

  • 310 multiple-choice questions

  • Divided into 7 60-minute blocks

  • Administered via computer

  • One day session

Step 2

Divided into 2 sub-steps: clinical knowledge (CK) & clinical skills (CS).

 The clinical knowledge section assesses the ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and clinical science to patient care.

The clinical skills section assesses the ability to gather information from patients, perform physical exams, and communicate findings with colleagues.

  • Clinical Knowledge

    • 350 multiple-choice questions

    • Divided into 8 60-minute blocks

    • One day session

  • Clinical Skills

    • 12 patient cases

    • 15 minutes per patient case 

    • 10 minutes to record each patient note (PN)

    • Administered at 6 test centers in the US: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, & Philadelphia.

    • One day session

Step 3

Divided into 2 sub-steps: Foundations of Independent Practice(FIP) & Advanced Clinical Medicine (ACM)

 Foundations of Independent Practice assesses the knowledge and principles essential for effective health care.

Advanced Clinical Medicine assesses the ability to apply knowledge of health and disease to the context of patient management and an evolving disease.

  • Foundations of Independent Practice

    • 260 multiple-choice questions

    • Divided into 6 60-minute blocks, each w/ 44 questions

    • One day session

  • Advanced Clinical Medicine (ACM)

    • 200 multiple-choice questions

    • Divided into 6 45-minute blocks, each with 33 questions

    • 13 computer-based case simulations, each allotted 10 or 20 minutes

    • One day session


5. Complete a Residency Program (3 - 4 Years)


After completing medical school, you aren’t finished yet. Now it’s time to choose your specialty and complete your residency. These residency programs are offered in conjunction with intensive clinical training experiences. Depending on the specialty, residency can last from three to eight years.

The American Medical Association’s online FREIDA service is an interactive database of over 9,400 graduate medical education programs. These programs are all accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. There is also information on over 200 combined specialty programs.