What kind of doctor should I see for my medical problem? A GP or a specialist? A cancer surgeon or a medical oncologist? A kidney physician or a urology specialist? If you have a similar question, you are not alone. The most informed among us can get confused by the various of medical specialties listed in hospital directories. So, let us try to figure out some of them.
GP vs SPECIALIST
A General Practitioner or GP, is the person we see most for all sorts of common ailments such cough, cold and small cuts. A GP clinic can either be in a residential area or in the city, often offering health screening. A GP is sometimes referred to as a Family Physician. In recent years, many GP clinics have transformed themselves into Aesthetics clinics to cater for minor aesthetics and cosmetics procedures. A GP who offers aesthetics treatment is not to be confused with a Cosmetic or Plastics Surgeon who is a specialist.
WHEN TO GO TO A SPECIALIST
Many people are referred to a specialist by their GP or another doctor who is familiar with their medical condition. But these days, with the wealth of medical knowledge on tap, anyone with a smartphone or computer may recognise their symptoms and go directly to a specialist instead.
PHYSICIAN OR SURGEON
For many medical conditions, the complete treatment may require the expertise of both medical and surgical treatment. For example, a patient with a heart condition may need to be seen by a Cardiologist (physician) and a Cardiothoracic Surgeon. A kidney-related disease may require the attention of a Nephrologist (physician) and a Urologist (Surgeon).
TYPES OF SPECIALIST DOCTORS
– MEDICAL ONCOLOGIST: Internal medicine physician who treats cancer. A Medical Oncologist often specialize in a few types of cancers. Some in lung cancer, others in blood cancers and yet others in breast and gynecological cancers. If you are unsure, check with the clinic for the most appropriate specialist for your condition.
– PEDIATRICIAN: Internal medicine physician who treats children. While pediatricians are specialists, many of us think of them as GPs for children. Pediatricians are not to be confused with Pediatric Surgeons who are General Surgeons by training. Pediatrics clinics are the most common type of clinics found in residential areas other than GP and dental clinics.
– GYNECOLOGIST / OBSTETRICIAN: Surgeons who treat problems related to women’s reproductive organs. If the doctor deals mainly with pregnant women and childbirths, he or she is more of an Obstetrician. Some do not deliver babies but mostly treat other gynecological problems. For example, a Gynecological Oncologist is a gynecologist trained to treatment women with cervical cancer, endometriosis and perform other complex surgeries.
– ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON: A surgeon who treats patient for problems and injuries that affect their spine and bones, ligaments, tendons and joints. Those include fractures, hip or knee replacement, and amputations. Orthopedic surgeons often work hand in hand with Cosmetic or Plastics Surgeons.
– OTOLARYNGOLOGIST: You may not know this term but an Otolaryngologist is a Head & Neck Surgeon. Our everyday term for such a doctor is ENT Specialist (Ear, Nose, Throat). ENT or Head & Neck Surgeons are not to be confused with Neurosurgeons who perform surgery on the brain and spine.
– BREAST SURGEON: Breast surgery is a sub-specialty of General Surgery. A breast surgeon is more accurately a Breast Cancer Surgeon, and not to be confused with a Cosmetics/Plastics Surgeon who does reconstructive or aesthetics surgery for breasts.
– COLORECTAL SURGEON: Colorectal Surgery is also a sub-specialty of General Surgery. As the name suggests, a Colorectal Surgeon offers treatment for problems related to the colon and the rectum, and performs Colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer.