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Types Of Doctors – Some Common Physician Specialties

Whether you’re looking for a specific internal medicine doctor near me or looking for the right medical field for you, worry no more. Here in this article, we have discussed various physician specialties that offer distinct services to their patients.

Table of Contents

PHYSICIAN

The title refers to the physician’s targeted patient age demographic that ranges from birth to elderly. A family physician is trained to diagnose major health ailments, run diagnostic tests, and manage them accordingly. They may also refer their patient to a relevant specialist, in case the prognosis has worsened, and the patient needs special care.

After completing medical school, physicians enroll in a family medicine residency program for three to five years. During their residency, they are trained in pediatric care, emergency medicine, and other fields of general medicine.

INTERNAL MEDICINE

Unlike family physicians, internal medicine doctors, treat patients above 18 years. Internists, as you may also call them, receive much more comprehensive hospital-based training than the former. After their internal medicine residency, an internist may choose to sub-specialize in specific fields such as endocrinology, pulmonology, sleep medicine, etc.. Internists provide a holistic treatment approach as they diagnose, manage, and prevent a variety of chronic diseases.

PEDIATRICIAN

A pediatrician diagnoses and manages health conditions in infants, children, and young patients. Their target patient demographic ranges from infancy to the age of 18, which in some cases, may extend to 21 years.

The treatment spectrum of a pediatrician includes primary health care that is dedicated to children. They provide vaccination services, general health checkups, and treatments for common ailments. However, in severe cases, they may refer the patient to a pediatric sub-specialist – e.g. critical care medicine or cardiology.

Their training includes a minimum three-year residency program that concentrates on pediatric medicine. A pediatrician may also enroll in a fellowship to subspecialize in the field.

Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN)

An OB/GYN is a healthcare provider that studies female reproductive health. Gynecology and obstetrics refer to specialization in the reproductive system and pregnancy respectively. Their care includes menopause and other hormonal issues that influence fertility and other physiological aspects.

An OB/GYN attends a residency program, after completing medical school. After the residency program, they may choose for fellowship to sub-specialize in fields such as gynecological oncology.

CARDIOLOGY

Cardiology refers to the study of the cardiac system, including the heart and its blood vessels. A cardiologist cares for patients that suffer from heart failure. They also manage cardiovascular disease and offer post-operative care.

The training to become a cardiologist is extensive and complicated. First, they complete their three-year-long internal medicine residency. Then, physicians are required to enroll in fellowship training that extends to several years.

ONCOLOGY

Oncology is the study of tumors and cancers. It is a sub-specialty of internal medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of cancers. It has three specific areas: medical, surgical, and radiation oncology.

Oncology also participates in various clinical trials to determine new, experimental treatments to prevent and treat incurable cancers.

After completing medical school, oncologists are required to enroll in an oncology residency program. They may also choose to take fellowship training in sub-specialties like pediatric oncology, and radiation oncology.

GASTROENTEROLOGIST

Gastroenterology deals with diseases concerning the digestive system. It includes the gastrointestinal tract (including esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine) and pancreas, liver, bile ducts, and gallbladder.

A gastroenterologist performs surgical procedures while also looking after patients in an outpatient facility. The sub-specialty of internal medicine requires physicians to complete their internal medicine residency. Followed by their residency, they then attend fellowship training in the said field.

Also Read: 5 Benefits of Speech Therapy Services for the Elderly

PULMONOLOGIST

Pulmonology is not necessarily the study of the lungs. Instead, it deals with the cardio-pulmonary system which includes the heart, lungs, and other organs that comprise the respiratory system.

A pulmonologist sees patients in an in-patient facility to treat breathing disorders such as asthma and COPD. They also manage mild to severe allergies, and other respiratory diseases. In a hospital setting, they treat patients in an intensive care unit that suffers from various pulmonary diseases.

Pulmonologists are required to complete their three-year internal medicine residence, after which they complete their fellowship training in the said field.

INFECTION DISEASE PHYSICIAN

Such physicians treat infectious diseases that are not managed by a primary care healthcare provider. Infections such as swine flu, bird flu, and HIV/AIDS are some diseases that an infectious disease physician treats. Their training includes fellowship training for infections after completing their residency program.

NEPHROLOGIST

Nephrology is the study of the renal system, which includes the kidney. A nephrologist deals with a disease that affects the kidney including kidney failure. Their training program includes fellowship training in nephrology, which is followed by completing a three-year residency program.

ENDOCRINOLOGIST

Endocrinology is the study of the endocrine system, which consists of the glands that secrete various hormones in the body. These hormones are responsible for regulating almost all of the body’s functions. An endocrinologist treats diseases of the endocrine system, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

OPHTHALMOLOGIST

Nephrology is the study of the eye and its concerning diseases, such as cataracts and glaucoma. Moreover, vision correction that an optometrist cannot manage is also looked after by an ophthalmologist. Such specialists may also perform surgical procedures where necessary.

The training to become an ophthalmologist includes a residency in Ophthalmology after graduating the medical school. However, while there’s no need to take a fellowship, some physicians enroll in training for certain eye diseases and surgeries.

NEPHROLOGY

Nephrology is the study of the eye and its concerning diseases, such as cataracts and glaucoma. Moreover, vision correction that an optometrist cannot manage is also looked after by an ophthalmologist. Such specialists may also perform surgical procedures where necessary.

The training to become an ophthalmologist includes a residency in ophthalmology after graduating from medical school. However, while there’s no need to take a fellowship, some physicians enroll in training for certain eye diseases and surgeries.

OTOLARYNGOLOGIST

Ever heard of ENTs or ear/nose/throat physicians? That’s what we call otolaryngologists. The field is a combination of surgical procedures and clinic-based medicinal treatments. The scope of otolaryngology is diverse. It includes the treatment of various sinus-related issues, allergies, and even head and neck cancers. Hence, many specialists choose to attend fellowship sub-specialization in rhinology that deals with the conditions related to the nose and sinuses.

Physicians who aspire to become an otolaryngologist are required to enroll in a residency program in otolaryngology after completing medical school.

DERMATOLOGIST

Perhaps, the most sought-after physician in the current era, are dermatologists. Such physician study dermatology, which deals with the diagnosis and treatment of various skin, hair, and nail diseases. They treat issues such as rashes, acne, alopecia, brittle nails, and even melanoma i.e. skin cancer.

Dermatologists also provide aesthetic surgical and non-surgical procedures such as botox injections, and laser skin treatments. Such processes are not covered by insurance and are paid for out-of-pocket.

It is a competitive field that requires physician to complete their dermatology residency. Some specialists may choose to attend fellowship for sub-specialization in specific aspects of the medicinal field. Dermatologists are usually well-compensated and only the top medical students are accepted into its residency program.

Your primary care provider may refer you to any of the specialists that are or are not included in the list above. These secondary care physicians help in managing severe and complicated conditions to improve the patient’s health.

Sam Anderson
Sam Anderson
Sam holds an MBA and a journalism degree and has written about topics such as Okinawa travel guides, stories for Medium, and more for over five years. I have held several IT positions during my career, including Customer Support, IT Procurement, Infrastructure and Server Support, and IT Management.
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