December 04, 2007

#01-045: A Trip to the Doctors: Medical Specialists - Part I

An anesthesiologist prepares a patient for surgery.

Note: When I was a boy, I spent a lot of time in hospitals, meeting lots of specialists. But most kids never saw anyone except the "family doctor."

Get Ready: Have you ever been to a "GP"? Have you been to any kind of medical specialist?

The family doctor is long gone. He was replaced by the GP (General Practitioner), and now she has been replaced by the "Primary Care Physician."

By whatever name, this doctor is the first one we visit in the American medical system. He or she will do some basic tests (take our blood pressure and temperature, for example), listen to our complaint, and then take care of any small problems we're having. If we have a big problem, though, we will be passed along to a specialist.

We almost never go directly to a specialist. Because of the system of medical insurance, we must have a referral from a Primary Care Physician before going to the specialist.

Here's a list of specialists; we'll meet more in Lesson #01-046:

  • anesthesiologist: this is one you will rarely see. He administers the anesthesia, the drugs that make us sleep during surgery. "Anesthesia" itself means loss of feeling or lack of sensation.
  • cardiologist: a heart specialist. We sometimes see the root "cardio" used alone in reference to exercise that's good for the heart: a cardio workout, etc.
  • dermatologist: Derm- is a root meaning skin, so the dermatologist is a skin doctor. We see this root in the word "hypodermic syringe": hypo- means "under" or "below," so a hypodermic places its load under the skin.
  • ear, nose, and throat specialist ("ENT"): This is the more friendly term; you may also see the intimidating word otonasolaryngologist. This is a doctor of the passages of the ear, nose, and throat.
  • internist: an internist practices internal medicine. He is concerned with the functioning of the internal organs. There are further specialists, as well: gastroenterologists for the stomach and intestines, hepatologists for the liver, urologists for the urinary tract, and so on. The internist can be contrasted to the surgeon, who invades the body with a knife. The internist, instead, observes the body's function and diagnoses and prescribes accordingly.
  • neurologist: a doctor of the nervous system. One who operates on the nervous system is a "neurosurgeon."
  • oncologist: a cancer specialist. Oncos is Greek for mass or tumor.
  • ophthalmologist: a medical doctor of the eye.

We'll continue with more specialists next time.


Read more:

Practice: If you went to the Primary Care Physician with the need below, to which specialist might she or he send you?

  1. I have a lump in a place where I didn't expect one.
  2. I have a pain in my stomach.
  3. I drink too much and my skin is turning yellow.
  4. I have no feeling in my fingers.
  5. I want to meet the doctor who will put me to sleep during my surgery.
  6. It hurts when I try to pee.
  7. I have a pain in my chest when I climb stairs too fast.
  8. Sometimes I see sparkles at the edge of my vision.
  9. I have a really bad cold.
  10. My legs itch terribly, and have red bumps on them.

  1. anesthesiologist
  2. cardiologist
  3. dermatologist
  4. ENT
  5. gastroenterologist
  6. hepatologist
  7. internist
  8. neurologist
  9. oncologist
  10. ophthalmologist
  11. urologist

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for December 4, 2007

This lesson received 138 visits on my old site between January, 2012, and June, 2021.

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. i; 2. g or e; 3. f; 4. h; 5. a; 6. k; 7. b; 8. j; 9. d; 10. c