Definition of Medical Specialty

Allergists & Immunologists- are experts in the diagnosis and management of disorders of the immune system, including asthma, rhinitis, eczema, urticaria, and adverse reactions to drugs, foods, and insect stings. These specialists also treat acquired and congenital conditions related to the immune system. In fact, the scope of this specialty is expanding due to a greater understanding of the immune system. Allergy & Immunology is a primary specialty as well as a subspecialty of both internal medicine and pediatrics.

Anesthesiologists- have the principal task of keeping you alive and pain free during surgery and other types of medical procedures. An anesthesiologist meets with patients prior to surgery to assess their overall health and determine any risks that may occur due to anesthesia. Anesthesiologists can diagnose and manage patients suffering from chronic, acute and cancer pain using a variety of techniques, and they are partners on a cardiopulmonary resuscitation team (CPR) that cares for all types of patients throughout the hospital and in emergency rooms.

Cardiologists- are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the heart, lungs and blood vessels such as angina, abnormal heart rhythms and rheumatic heart disease. They often perform complicated diagnostic procedures, such as cardiac catheterization, and they consult with surgeons on heart surgery. Cardiology is a subspecialty of internal medicine.

Colon & Rectal Surgeons- specialize in surgery of the colon or rectum for conditions such as hemorrhoids, colon cancer and ulcerative colitis.

Dermatologists- specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases, including acne, psoriasis, warts, skin infections and cancers.

Emergency Medicine Specialists,- primarily based in hospitals or ambulatory emergency centers, these physicians treat trauma victims and people in need of emergency care. They give the immediate care necessary to prevent death or disability due to accident or acute illness such as a heart attack.

Endocrinologists- concentrate on disorders of the endocrine system (a collection of glands that produces hormones that regulate the body's rate of metabolism, growth, and sexual functioning). An endocrinologist treats patients with such disorders as diabetes or thyroid problems. Endocrinology is a subspecialty of internal medicine.

Facial Plastic Surgeons- are specialists in cosmetic and reconstructive procedures in the complicated area of the face, head and neck. They are concerned with improving facial harmony, rejuvenating premature signs of aging and repairing problems present from birth or caused by accident or disease. Facial Plastic Surgery is the primary specialty of diplomats of the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and an approved subspecialty of otolaryngology/head-and-neck surgery and plastic surgery.

Family Practitioners (FPs)- are trained in several basic disciplines including internal medicine, disease prevention, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, general surgery and psychiatry. They place special emphasis on the care of families and refer patients to specialists and community resources, such as support groups, when appropriate. Family physicians diagnose and treat the vast majority of common illnesses and injuries. The American Board of Family Practice awards a general Certification in the specialty.

Gastroenterologists- diagnose and treat disorders of the digestive system, including the stomach, bowels, liver, gallbladder and related organs. They treat conditions such as abdominal pain, ulcers, diarrhea, and cancer. Gastroenterologists perform complex diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, and they consult with surgeons when abdominal operations are needed. Gastroenterology is a subspecialty of internal medicine.

General Practitioners (GPs)- concern themselves with the diagnosis and treatment of disease by both medical and surgical methods and all patient age groups. No organ system or body region is excluded. No specialty training programs in General Practice alone are available and there is no board to certify General Practitioners.

Geriatric Specialists- are trained in the treatment of disorders of the elderly. Geriatrics is a subspecialty of either internal medicine or family practice.

Hematologists- specialize in disorders of the blood, spleen, and lymph glands. They treat conditions such as anemia, clotting disorders, sickle cell disease, hemophilia, leukemia, and lymphoma, and they perform special types of procedures such as transfusions and bone marrow biopsies. Hematology is a subspecialty of internal medicine.

Infectious Disease Specialists- are physicians who diagnose and treat infectious disorders such as sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and conditions acquired while traveling. The mainstay of treatment is the use of antibiotic and other antimicrobial drugs, which must be carefully selected in order to be effective. Infectious disease is a subspecialty of internal medicine.

Internists (IMs)- are personal physicians who provide long-term, comprehensive care in an office or hospital. They manage both common illnesses and complex problems that affect adolescents, adults, and the elderly. General internists are trained in the essentials of primary care internal medicine, which incorporates an understanding of disease prevention, substance abuse, mental health and treatment of common problems of the eyes, ears, skin, nervous system and reproductive organs. All internists are trained in the subspecialty areas of internal medicine including emergency internal medicine and critical care. Internal medicine subspecialties include: Allergy & Immunology; Cardiology; Endocrinology; Gastroenterology; Geriatric Medicine; Hematology; Infectious Disease; Oncology; Nephrology; Pulmonary Disease; Rheumatology; and Sports Medicine.

Nephrologists- are concerned with kidney disorders, high blood pressure, and fluid and mineral balance. They consult with surgeons about kidney transplantation. Nephrology is a subspecialty of internal medicine.

Neurological Surgeons- perform surgery necessary to treat disorders of the brain, spinal cord and nerves.

Neurologists- diagnose and treat disorders of the nervous system, such as headache, epilepsy, numbness, Parkinson's disease, and loss of movement or memory.

Nuclear Medicine Specialists- use radioactive substances (isotopes) to diagnosis and treat disease. The major fields of nuclear medicine are physiologic function studies, radionuclide imaging, and therapeutic techniques.

Obstetricians & Gynecologists- specialize in women's reproductive organs. Obstetricians care for women during pregnancy, delivery and post-childbirth. Gynecologists treat disorders of the female genital tract and endocrine and reproductive system. OB/GYNs can practice in both areas or limit their work to just one of them. This specialty has the following subspecialties: Gynecological Oncology; Maternal and Fetal Medicine; Critical Care Medicine; Reproductive Endocrinology.

Oncologists- specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancer and other benign and malignant tumors. These specialists administer chemotherapy and consult with surgeons and radiotherapists on other treatments for cancer. Oncology is a subspecialty of internal medicine.

Ophthalmologists- diagnose and treat all eye problems, including injuries and medical disorders. They prescribe eye glasses and contact lenses to improve sight and can perform surgery for eye conditions such as cataracts. (Optometrists can prescribe glasses and contact lenses, but they are not medical physicians and cannot treat disease.)

Orthopedic Surgeons- treat problems involving ligaments, joints, muscles, tendons and related structures. They commonly treat back problems, fractured bones and muscle tears.

Otolaryngologists- are trained to diagnose and treat diseases of the ear, nose and throat. They are often referred to as Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists or ENT's.

Pathologists- are physicians who conduct laboratory studies of tissues and cells that help other physicians reach accurate diagnoses. They supervise other laboratory personnel in the testing and microscopic examination of blood and other body fluids. Pathologists also conduct autopsies.

Pediatricians (Peds)- care for children from birth through the teen years. They commonly have subspecialties, such as pediatric cardiology, gastroenterology, Perinatal medicine or surgery.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialists- are concerned with helping patients recover from or overcome disabilities or impairments caused by injury, illness, or neurological conditions such as strokes. These physicians examine and test patients to establish a rehabilitation program that may involve therapeutic exercise, prosthetics, or mechanical and electrical devices.

Plastic Surgeons- repair or reconstruct defects or imperfections present from birth or caused by injury, aging, or disease (i.e. breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery).

Preventive Medicine Specialists- promote and maintain health and well-being by suggesting ways to prevent disease, disability and premature death. In addition to having knowledge of basic and clinical sciences and the skills common to all physicians, distinctive components of preventive medicine include: biostatistics; epidemiology; health services administration; environmental and occupational influences on health; social and behavioral influences on health; measures which prevent the occurrence, progression and disabling effects of disease or injury. This specialty is also known as Community & Preventive Medicine.

Psychiatrists- are medical physicians who diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders. Unlike psychologists, these specialists are medical physicians and can prescribe medications such as antidepressants. Some psychiatrists specialize in the care of children, adolescents or older people, or in the treatment of particular problems, including eating disorders or sexual abuse.

Pulmonologists- are concerned with diseases of the lungs and airways and can diagnose and treat pneumonia, cancer, pleurisy, asthma, occupational diseases, bronchitis, sleep disorders, and emphysema. Pulmonologists test lung function, examine the bronchial airways and prescribe and monitor mechanical breathing technology. Many pulmonary disease experts also specialize in critical care. Pulmonary disease is a subspecialty of internal medicine.

Radiologists- diagnose and treat problems by using X rays, nuclear imaging devices, radioactive substances, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance. A radiologist is seen only on referral by another physician.

Rheumatologists- are concerned with diseases of joints, muscles, bones, and tendons. The rheumatologist diagnoses and treats arthritis, back pain, muscle strains, common athletic injuries, and collagen diseases. These physicians may work closely with other specialists such as physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons. Rheumatology is a subspecialty of internal medicine.

Sports Medicine Specialists- are physicians who care for injuries to bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments caused by participation in athletic activity. Sports medicine is a subspecialty of either internal medicine or family practice.

Surgeons (General)- perform a variety of operations on almost all parts of the body. Surgery may be done to diagnose illness, remove or repair tissue, repair injuries, or correct malfunctioning parts. When necessary, they will refer patients to a sub specialist.

Thoracic Surgeons- specialize in operations of the chest, including surgery for disorders of the heart, arteries, lungs, esophagus, chest wall and diaphragm.

Urologists- specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, urethra and male reproductive organs. They also perform surgery.

Vascular Surgeons- specialize in surgery of the veins and arteries. Vascular surgery is a subspecialty of general surgery.
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