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Medical Specialties

Many physicians further their medical training in order to specialize in particular areas of medicine, referred to as specialties. Medical students and prospective medical students will want to consider possible practice areas. Below is a list of some types of physician specialists and a brief description of the type of medicine they practice.

Anesthesiologists administer medications to patients to prevent patients from feeling pain during procedures. They may also treat patients experiencing chronic pain.

Cardiologists diagnose and treat diseases of the heart and cardiovascular system. Some of the problems cardiologists work with include chest pain, palpitations, heart disease, and angina.

Dermatologists diagnose and treat diseases of the skin. Some of the conditions that dermatologists work with include acne, warts, skin cancers, skin tumors, infections, moles, eczema, and psoriasis.

Endocrinologists diagnose and treat conditions related to the endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of glands that secrete hormones to regulate the body. Some of the conditions they work with include diabetes, thyroid disorders, infertility, metabolic disorders, osteoporosis, endocrine system cancers and growth problems.

Family practitioners diagnose and treat an array of disorders in infants, children and adults. They provide primary care for almost any condition and provide routine physicals. Many family practitioners also provide prenatal care for pregnant women and assist with childbirth.

Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat conditions related to the digestive system. Examples of conditions a gastroenterologist may treat include abdominal pain, indigestion, constipation, colon cancer, colon polyps, diarrhea, liver disease, reflux, heartburn, and difficulty swallowing.

Gynecologists diagnose and treat disorders related to the female reproductive system. They often perform routine examinations as well. This specialty is closely related to obstetrics.

Hematologists diagnose and treat blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system disorders. Conditions hematologists treat include leukemia, lymphoma, and anemia. Hematology is closely related to oncology.

Internists diagnose and treat an array of disorders in adults. They often act as primary care physicians. Unlike family practitioners and general practitioners, internists typically concentrate on working with adults.

Neurologists diagnose and treat diseases of the nervous system. The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Examples of some of the conditions neurologists work with are infections, tumors, and injuries to the nervous system.

Obstetricians specialize in pregnancy and childbirth. This specialty is closely related to gynecology.

Oncologists diagnose and treat cancers. Some of the cancers oncologists may work with include breast cancer, prostate cancer, gynecologic cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, and sarcoma.

Ophthalmologists diagnose and treat eye disorders and eye injuries. Ophthalmologists often perform routine vision care as well. Some of the conditions that ophthalmologists treat include cataract, cornea disorders, eye infections, eye injuries, and glaucoma.

Orthopedists diagnose and treat musculoskeletal disorders and injuries.

Otolaryngologists diagnose and treat disorders of the ear, nose, and throat. They are often referred to as ear, nose and throat physicians or ENT physicians. Some of the conditions otolaryngologists treat include sinus disorders, allergies, sense of smell disorders, hearing loss, ear infections, and disorders of the upper-digestive system.

Pediatricians diagnose and treat disorders in children and adolescents. They provide primary care, perform routine physicals, and treat an array of disorders.

Psychiatrists diagnose and treat mental disorders. Psychiatrists interpret results of clinical analysis, psychometric tests, and brain scans. They treat patients using medications and therapy. Some of the conditions psychiatrists treat include bipolar disorder, phobias, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Radiologists diagnose and treat disorders using diagnostic imagery devices, such as x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound. In many cases radiological technicians administer the radiological tests, then the radiologist interprets the results. Radiation oncologists provide cancer treatment using radiation. Nuclear physicians diagnose and treat diseases using radioactive materials.

Urologists diagnose and treat problems related to the urinary and reproductive systems in men, and the urinary system in women. Among the conditions urologists treat are urinary tract infections, incontinence, enlarged prostate, kidney stones, overactive bladder, infertility, sexual dysfunction, and urinary tract cancers.


The list above can be a great starting point for students researching medical specialty areas. Students who are interested in becoming surgeons should research surgical specialty areas.


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