December 06, 2007

#01-046: A Trip to the Doctors: Medical Specialists - Part II

Dentists get ready to drill.

Note: Aside from birth, I have had two other surgeries in my life: the removal of a benign lump from my neck, and a tonsillectomy. Thankfully, I haven't gone "under the knife" since I was a young teenager! Knock wood!

Get Ready: Have you, or anyone close to you, ever had surgery? What was the problem? What other specialists were involved?

Let's continue with the list of medical specialists we started last time:

  • obstetrician and gynecologist: That's a mouthful! We usually abbreviate it "OB/GYN," pronouncing the five letters. Obstetrics is the study of childbirth; gynecology is the study of women's parts. Because of the relationship between childbirth and women's parts, they usually constitute one specialty. Obstetrics comes from a Latin word obstetrix, meaning midwife (a woman trained to assist at childbirth). Gyne is the Latin root for "woman," seen in such words as "misogyny" (hatred of women) and "androgynous" (having both male and female traits--andros means man or male).
  • orthopedist: This one has a great etymology. Ortho means straight; ped comes from a Greek word meaning "child." The orthopedist specializes in correcting problems with the skeleton, especially in children. When the doctor is finished, you have a "straight child"! 
  • pediatrician: The same ped we saw in "orthopedist" is here in "pediatrician," a doctor of children.
  • plastic surgeon: No, this is not a doctor who fixes toys. "Plastic" in this case means "able to be shaped, formed." The plastic surgeon reshapes unattractive noses and other body parts. This may be cosmetic, as when a person wants to be better looking; but it can also be done after an accident, to restore the victim's previous appearance.
  • podiatrist: pod here means "foot"; this is a foot doctor. The same root shows up in words like "arthropod" (insects and spiders with "jointed feet") and as the "ped-" in pedestrian, etc.
  • radiologist: a doctor who specializes in making and interpreting x-rays.
  • surgeon: a doctor who cuts into the body. Interestingly, the word comes from Greek (through French) from a word that means "working by hand," and certainly a surgeon must have a steady hand!

In addition to these medical doctors, there are quite a few doctors whose work, while important to our health, is not classified as part of the medical profession. Here are a few examples:

  • audiologist: (from the root audio, from the Latin word meaning "to hear,") deals with hearing problems.
  • dentists and orthodontists: Tooth doctors and tooth-straightening doctors.
  • psychologists: These doctors can only talk to help us with mental problems; psychiatrists are medical doctors who can also prescribe drugs.
  • optometrists: These professionals measure the eye for glasses (meter means "measure"); the optician is a craftsman who actually makes the glasses.
  • pharmacists: These professionals prepare and dispense drugs. Only a medical doctor can prescribe drugs.
  • chiropractor and homeopath: These health professionals are working in a field which, like some parts of Chinese medicine, have a different theoretical basis from the main medical profession. As valuable as they can be, their work is not generally accepted by the Western medical establishment.


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 was in a terrible car accident, and my face was cut up badly. I'm afraid it will look ugly.
  2. I need to have new lenses made for my glasses. I have a prescription already.
  3. There's a problem in my intestines, and pills and medicine won't take care of it.
  4. I'm having some problems with my toes.
  5. I need to have my hearing checked.
  6. I think I may have broken my leg, but I'm not sure.
  7. My child's feet are turning inward.
  8. I have some emotional problems, but I don't want to take any drugs.
  9. I need to buy some pills; I have a prescription.
  10. My baby has a bad cold.

  1. audiologist
  2. chiropractor
  3. dentist
  4. homeopath
  5. obstetrician and gynecologist
  6. optician
  7. optometrist
  8. orthodontist
  9. orthopedist
  10. pediatrician
  11. pharmacist
  12. plastic surgeon
  13. podiatrist
  14. psychiatrist
  15. psychologist
  16. radiologist
  17. surgeon

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for December 6, 2007

This lesson received 121 visits on my old site between January, 2012, and June, 2021.

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. l; 2. f; 3. q; 4. m; 5. a; 6. p; 7. i; 8. o; 9. k; 10. j