Understanding the doctors: who does what?

In the world of medicine, there are a lot of specialties and sub-specialties, all with very long and complicated names. For the layman, it is often very hard to differentiate between the different fancy names that the doctors call each other. But the differences are important, and it is very helpful to know who does what. It would be very embarrassing if you ended up at the proctologist’s office if you were intending to see a pulmonologist for instance. So, knowing the differences, often very subtle ones, is helpful – and we are here to help with a simple guide to some of the most frequently mistaken medical people.

Women’s health

Doctors who specialize in women’s health fall into two broad categories. There are the ones who help with matters of childbirth and there are those who work with the equipment that makes the babies. The former are obstetricians while the latter is gynecologists. The two often work closely together but when it comes to the delivery time it is the obstetrician who is on hand to make sure that it all goes smoothly. Meanwhile, the gynae is the person who does pap smears and health checks on a regular basis, from puberty to menopause and beyond. If you don’t have a doctor seeing to your female needs you should find one, a simple online search for something like ‘gynaecologist Melbourne’ should point you in the direction of somebody in your area.

A wee difference

Urologists and nephrologists are often confused with each other. The latter are kidney doctors, they are the people you see if your kidneys (or nephrons) are not working properly. The urologists work with the bladder and matters specifically related to urination and male reproductive health. For instance, if you were suffering from erectile dysfunction you would likely end up being seen by a urologist.

Doctors and surgeons

This can be a difficult one to grasp, especially because when you visit a doctor at his rooms it is often referred to as his surgery. But the difference is simple, a doctor treats illness medically while a surgeon looks after you by cutting. So, where a doctor will prescribe medicine a surgeon is the person who cuts you open and works directly on the organs or areas of concern.

Eye captain

You may see optometrist’s rooms when you walk through a shopping center. These are people who look at your eyes and prescribe spectacles. They are health professionals but typically they have not gone through medical school. They are more para-medical than full doctors in the same way that occupational therapists or physiotherapists are. An eye specialist is an ophthalmologist and they are doctors who have chosen to specialize in eye health. Typically, you would not find an ophthalmologist dispensing spectacles. Instead, they perform eye surgery, tackle eye illnesses and research the general health of the human eye. They do not have offices in shopping centers and they charge a whole lot more than the optometrist does!

Written by Ashley Grace

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