Figuring Out What the Doctor is Saying: Key Terms for Patients
The role of the general physician and pediatrician in the medical world has changed dramatically over the past few decades. These days, patients who used to see one doctor over the course of their entire life may wind up seeing multiple physicians and surgeons for a single problem. For patients who are trying to navigate a maze of doctors, dentist and specialists, here are some terms that may be helpful to know.
Cardiologist - Physicians who specialize identifying and treating heart problems. Remember, not every specialist is also a surgeon so the doctor who identifies a problem may not be the one who operates on it.
Gynecologist - A doctor who focuses solely on the care and treatment of a woman's reproductive organs.
Neurologist - A specialist who works exclusively on conditions that affect the nervous system.
Oral Surgeon - A dentist who is qualified to perform surgery on the mouth and jaw. Though they usually don't work in hospitals, oral surgeons may be called upon to repair damage caused to the mouth in an auto accident.
Orthopedic - If you've ever broken a bone, chances are you were treated by a an orthopedic doctor who specializes in the skeletal system.
Pediatrician - Doctors who care for children and adolescents. Patients usually switch from a pediatrician to a general physician during their teenage years.
Primary Physician - The doctor who a patient sees on a regular basis for general ailments. The primary physician can refer patients to a specialist for specific ailments that fall outside of the general care realm.
Specialist - A doctor who has undertaken additional training in diagnosing and treating problems involving a specific body system, such as the cardiovascular or nervous systems.