Chapter 19: Specialist: A Class Apart
An internist is someone who knows everything and does nothing. A surgeon is someone who does everything and knows nothing. A psychiatrist is someone who knows nothing and does nothing. A pathologist is someone who knows everything and does everything too late - Anonymous
If you have a medical problem, it helps to know what kind of specialist your family doctor may refer you to.
The most common varieties of specialists and their functions are as follows:
Allergist - A doctor who specializes in preventing, diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma.
Anesthesiologist - A doctor who specializes in administering anesthetics, drugs or agents that produce a complete or partial loss of feeling to relieve pain, commonly, but not always, during surgery.
Cardiologist - A physician who specializes in disorders of the heart.
Dermatologist - A doctor who specializes in diseases and problems of the skin.
Emergency Medicine doctor: A doctor who specializes in the rapid recognition and treatment of trauma or acute illnesses.
Endocrinologist: A doctor who specializes in disorders of the hormonal system, including diabetes mellitus.
Family practitioner: A doctor who specializes in family medicine.
Gastroenterologist: A doctor who specializes in disorders of the stomach, esophagus, intestines and liver.
Geneticist: A professional who specializes in the study or application of genetics, the science that examines the principles and mechanics of heredity.
Geriatrician: A medical specialist in the field of geriatrics, i.e., the branch of medicine dealing with the physiology of aging and the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the elderly.
Gynecologist: A doctor who specializes in disorders of the female reproductive system.
Haematologist: A doctor who specializes in the field of haematology, i.e., the study of blood and blood-forming tissues.
Infectious disease specialist: A doctor who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious or communicable diseases.
Internist: A doctor who specializes in internal medicine, i.e., the branch of medicine concerned with the physiology and pathology of the internal organs and with the medical diagnosis and treatment of disorder of the internal organs.
Neonatologist: A doctor who specializes in the care of an infant from birth to four weeks and in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the newborn.
Nephrologist: A physician who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the kidneys.
Neurologist: A physician who specializes in disorders and treatment of the brain and the nervous system.
Obstetrician: A doctor who specializes in pregnancy and childbirth.
Oncologist: A surgeon who specializes in the diagnoses and treatment of cancer .
Ophthalmologist: A surgeon who specializes in the comprehensive care of the eyes and in the prevention of eye diseases and injuries.
Orthopedic surgeon: A doctor who specializes in disorders and diseases of the skeletal system.
Otolaryngologist: A doctor who specializes in diseases and disorders of the ear, nose and throat. Also known as a head and neck.
Pediatrician: A doctor who specializes in the care of infants and children.
Pathologist: A doctor who studies and analyses tissues, samples and body fluids in the laboratory.
Pharmacologist: A specialist who studies the preparation, properties, uses and actions of drugs or medications.
Plastic surgeon: A doctor who performs surgery to repair bodily defects. He also performs cosmetic or aesthetic surgery, i.e., the alteration of visible parts of the body to improve the external appearance.
Proctologist: A doctor who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the colon, rectum and anus.
Psychiatrist: A doctor who specializes in the prevention, causes diagnosis and treatment of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. Psychiatrists differ from other types of mental health professionals, (such as psychologists and psychoanalysts) in that they have earned a medical degree and specially training. As such, they are the only mental health specialists who are authorized to prescribe medication.
Pulmonologist: A doctor who specializes in disorders of the lung.
Radiologist: A doctor who specializes in radiology, i.e., the branch of medicine concerned with imaging the human body, using X-rays and scans.
Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in disorders of connective tissue and related structures; largely, they diagnose and treat inflamed and diseased joints and arthritis.
Surgeon: A doctor who specializes in diseases and trauma that require operative procedures. Surgeons can be general surgeons as well as specialized surgeons in specific branches of medicine: for example, cardiovascular surgeons, neurosurgeons and pediatric surgeons.
Thoracic surgeon: A doctor who performs chest and lung surgery
Urologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnoses and treatment of diseases of the urinary tract in males and females, and those of the genital tract in males, including prostate problems.
Vascular surgeon: A doctor who specializes in the surgical treatment of arteries or veins.
One should remember that often a specialist is an expert who knows more and more about less and less. Therefore, it is your primary care doctor who should guide your medical care!
Given the increasing complexity of modern medical care, there are likely to be many other varieties of health-care workers you will encounter, and you should be aware of their functions as well:
Audiologist: A health professional who diagnoses and treats hearing problems and helps provide rehabilitation to individuals with hearing loss.
Dietitian: A person trained in the nutritional care of group and individuals.
Emergency medical technician (EMT): A person trained in, and responsible for, the administration of specialized emergency care and transporting acutely ill or injured individuals to a medical facility. EMTs are yet to become popular in India.
Nutritionist: A person who studies and applies the principles and science of nutrition.
Occupational therapist (OT): A health professional who evaluates and treats individuals who are limited in their ability to function fully, due to physical injury or illness. Ots encourage purposeful activity (for example, teaching how to cook a meal or use public transportation) in their clients to maximize independence, prevent disability and maintain overall health.
Paramedic: A person who is trained in certain emergency medical procedures and assists a doctor during such procedures.
Pharmacist: A qualified professional who formulates (prepares) and dispenses medications. Licensed pharmacists must procure at least a Bachelors degree in pharmaceutical science (B Pharm).
Phlebotomist: A technician trained in drawing blood and starting intravenous lines.
Physical therapist (PT): A health professional who examines and treats individuals with physical limitations or disabilities. PTs must obtain a Bachelors degree as a minimum requirement.
Psychologist: A person who studies animal and human behavior. A clinical psychologist must hold a graduate degree in psychology. A psychologist provides testing facilities and counseling to people with mental or emotional disorders.
Social worker: A professional with advanced education, generally a Masters degree in social work, or MSW, who tackles social, emotional and environmental problems in association with illness or disability. Social workers about counsel individuals and families community resources, and depending on their area of specialization and training, on coping with mental illness or disorders. They also often assist in providing financial assistance to poor patients.
Speech therapist: A practitioner trained in speech pathology who treats people with disorders that affect speech.
X-ray Technician: Also called a radiologic technologist, an X-ray technician is a person who operates radiologic equipment and assists radiologists.
Remember that if you know who does what in the world of medicine, you are likely to be able find the right person to help you in resolving your problems!