What are the types of physicians? Each medical professional goes through extensive training and certification to become skilled in his or her field of choice. If you’re considering becoming a physician or simply wish to know about common types of physicians and their specialties, the following guide will provide important information on several important areas of medicine.
Primary Care/Family Medicine: Primary care physicians often work in a field called family medicine, which is simply a catch-all term for a general practitioner. You’ve likely filled out numerous forms in your lifetime asking you to list your ‘primary care physician’ and his or her contact information. These types of physicians are your go-to doctors for illness and injuries that do not require medical specialists. They are trained to assess common ailments, prescribe treatments, offer medical advice, and if necessary, refer you to a specialist. Many primary care physicians also perform regular checkups, such as annual exams or physicals.
Internal Medicine: Physicians who practice internal medicine can specialize in a number of fields, including-but not limited to–gastroenterology, endocrinology, and cardiology. These types of physicians concentrate on serious issues related to the inner-workings of the body. Gastroenterologists focus on digestive problems, such as acid reflux, colon cancer, and IBS, to name a few. Endocrinologists frequently specialize in hormonal imbalances, particularly those connected to the thyroid gland. Cardiologists, the most familiar practitioners of internal medicine, are trained in heart conditions. Depending on your needs, your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist trained in one of these fields.
Psychiatrists: These types of physicians are specifically trained to deal with mental health issues, though frequently they specialize in certain areas. For example, some psychiatrists focus on behavioral disorders, while others focus in somatoform disorders. While these types of physicians do treat mental health as a whole, someone whose research and field of study is primarily based in addiction psychiatry might not be the most suitable for treating conditions such as anxiety disorders or depression. However, as psychiatrists are trained medical professionals, they are able to both diagnose mental health disorders and prescribe medications and/or treatment options.
OB/GYNs: These types of physicians specialize in reproductive health, offering yearly gynecological exams such as PAP smears and HPV tests. They also deal with serious reproductive conditions, such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and infertility. In some cases, gynecologists not only offer treatment for reproductive issues, but perform surgeries such as laparoscopies to both view the medical condition present in a patient and remove the source of complaint. Obstetricians focus more on pregnancies and management thereof, though both obstetricians and gynecologists can recommend hormonal therapies depending on the nature of the disorder.
Ophthalmologists: Ophthalmologist specialize in dealing with diseases of the eyes, such as cataracts or glaucoma. Like the aforementioned specialists, they too are licensed to prescribe treatment and medications, and in some instances, to perform surgery when necessary. Whereas optometrists focus more in the area of vision correction through the prescription of corrective lenses (either glasses or contacts), ophthalmologists can do this and more, such as performing corrective surgeries for diseases of the eye.