Medical Specialists and their fields

If you look at your health insurance policy, you might have noticed a couple of treatments that you may not be familiar with. If you’ve never needed specialised shoes, for example, chances are you wouldn’t readily know the purpose of orthotics or what a podiatrist treats. It is advisable to know how many specialists will be consulted and involved in your treatment when estimating you’re out-of-pocket expense.

Doctors or general practitioners are trained in a wide range of medicine and medical procedures and often work as primary care physicians. When you need medical attention, you should see your primary care physician first as they are familiar with your medical history. Majority of the time you can be diagnosed and treated by a GP, however if they are unable to reach a diagnosis they will refer you to a specialist or consultant. Knowing who’s who can be confusing. Health Deal has put together a list of all the common types of doctors and what they do:

Family physicians usually build long-term relationships with their clients and look after a wide range of medical needs of the entire family, from children to the elderly. Some of the treatments you might receive at your family physician are flu shots and routine check-ups and they also treat chronic conditions such as arthritis, cardiac disease, and diabetes. Some physicians also provide care during pregnancy and labour.

Paediatrics specialise in the treatment of children and their conditions and diseases. Paediatricians look after the general well-being of babies and children, administer vaccines, monitor growth, and attend to sick children.

These doctors deal with the diagnosis and treatment of mental, emotional and addictive disorders like schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

These are doctors who specialise in skincare. They treat skin problems like psoriasis, acne, skin allergies and scars as well as problems associated with hair and nails.

These specialists treat disorders of the immune system such as food and sting allergies, eczema, asthma, and some autoimmune diseases.

OB/GYN’s specialise in the treatment of women, including pregnancy and birth. Obstetricians specifically deal with pregnancy and labour and gynaecologists focus on women’s reproductive health. You can see a gynaecologist for a pap smear, pregnancy check-up or pelvic exam.

Pathologists are doctors who specialise in lab work such as the microscopic study of human tissue and fluid.

Physiatrists examine and diagnose conditions of the musculoskeletal system and prescribe the therapies that physical therapists will use to treat the patient.

These doctors use imaging techniques like X-rays, ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other imaging tests to diagnose and treat disease and injury.

This is the medical personnel you would see if you’ve been in an accident or become severely ill due to organ failure.

These doctors treat conditions of the eye such as glaucoma and decreased vision. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in that they are trained to perform surgery.

A cardiologist specialises in heart-related treatment, such as a heart attack/failure, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure.

These are the doctors that are on standby during surgical procedures or during treatment that requires numbing. They administer the drugs and monitor your vital signs while under the sedative.

While many general surgeons have subspecialty skills, these doctors are capable of operating on any part of the body. Some of the surgical treatments they perform include the treatment of appendicitis, gallbladders, hernias and the removal of tumours.

Haematology is the study and treatment of blood. These specialists deal with diseases of the blood, lymph glands and spleen like haemophilia, leukaemia, and anaemia.

These doctors specialise in the treatment of the nervous system. They deal with conditions of the brain, spinal cord, strokes, epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Internists study for a minimum of seven years and are skilled in the diagnosis of perplexing medical problems, chiefly in adults. These medical consultants routinely see patients who suffer from more than one medical condition and provide ongoing care for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, chronic lung disease, and obese patients.

These internists specialise in the treatment of cancer. This includes chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.

These doctors specialises in the treatment of the kidney. Kidney conditions include chronic kidney disease, kidney infection and failure, and may also include high blood pressure.

Those who offer palliative care are proficient at pain management and work with other medical staff to maintain quality of life for the patient.

These doctors specialise in the treatment of hereditary disorders.

These doctors specialise in the treatment of the digestive organs like jaundice, ulcers or abdominal pain. So if you have a problem with your stomach, pancreas, liver, bowels or gallbladder, you’re likely to be referred to this specialist.

These specialists diagnose, treat, and use preventative methods to stop the spread of infections. These conditions range from HIV and AIDS, to fevers, pneumonia, Lyme disease and tuberculosis.

Osteopathy is a complementary therapy that focuses on the joints, muscles, and spine to treat arthritis, headaches, back pain, digestive issues and postural problems. Osteopaths are fully licensed medical doctors that use technology and the body’s ability to heal itself to treat the musculoskeletal system.  

ENT doctors treat conditions related to the ear, nose and throat as well as the neck and respiratory system.

These doctors treat feet and ankle related problems like sports or accidental injuries or chronic health conditions like diabetes.

Plastic or cosmetic surgeons perform reconstructive surgery on the body to alter the effects of injury or disease for cosmetic purposes.

A pulmonologist’s field is the pulmonary, or lung system. These doctors diagnose and treat lung diseases like cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, asthma, emphysema and breathing issues.

A doctor in this field is responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of joint diseases such as arthritis.  Some of these conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, and chronic back pain.

If you’re having trouble with continence or a weak bladder, you would see an urologist. These surgeons specialise in the care of the urinary tract and also treat male infertility as well as perform prostate exams.

Stay informed

It is important to know the different types of specialists involved in your treatment because they may incur separate costs. If you need an operation your surgical team would most likely include nurses or a physician’s assistant, an X-ray technician, an anaesthesiologist, and your surgeon. You may also require a therapist for your rehabilitation.

If you’ve been referred to a specialist for treatment, always remember to call your health fund about your policy and ask your doctor about the costs and members included in your healthcare team.

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