What type of doctors are specialised in what fields?

Ideally, below is a Community List of which doctors are responsible for what. This list is not exhaustive and should not be taken at face value depending on medical circumstances, but it should give one the broadest overview we can give.

  • Hopefully, with this Q&A most when-to-go-where-questions can be closed as dupes. If you think it’s too broad, let me know.
    – Narusan
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 11:14
  • That is broad! Has this to remain at very general level? At the latest when it hits paging this will likely need to be split up into sections (sep Qs). But interesting reasoning. Let's see how it goes. Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 12:32
  • @Narusan-sedated actually if it is an allergy you would see an allergist/immunologist. And I am not sure that this can be defined. And pathology has many more divisions. When I am not on mobile, I will make this a community wiki. We will see how it proceeds.
    – JohnP
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 2:35
  • 2
    I think we can keep pathology more general as they aren't someone people will go see. Unless they're on the autopsy table, which is beyond the scope of this question ;)
    – DoctorWhom
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 12:17
  • 1
    @Narusan-sedated Ah, that 100% depends on your insurance, a topic which is insanely complicated in the U.S. But PCPs can manage a lot more than most people realize, and there are often long waits for subspecialists, so those are 2 big reasons why the medical system generally recommends starting with a PCP.
    – DoctorWhom
    Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 6:38

1 Answer 1


Primary Care

  • Primary Care Physician (General Practitioner)
    In the USA: primary care specialties include Family Medicine (all ages), Internal Medicine (adults), Pediatrics (children). Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants are also primary care providers who work alongside physicians.

    This is often the best place to start, as they are well-versed in managing most conditions and injuries. If it is complicated enough to require a subspecialist who spent years studying just that area (see below), the PCP will be able to refer you to the right subspecialist. PCPs are experts in evaluating and managing "the big picture" of your overall health. Make sure you bring ALL results with you to your PCP/GP so that they can coordinate your care! Many of them do minor procedures such as biopsies, cyst removal, joint injections, IUDs. They also specialize in general wellness and disease prevention from immunizations to mammos and PAP.


  • Allergy and Immunology
    Diagnose, treat and manage allergies (hypersensitivity of the immune system to everyday environmental influences like pollen, which usually cause very little problems in most other people) that manifest in conditions like hay fever, food allergies, allergic asthma, or anaphylaxis. Also immune disorders, such as immunodeficiencies; there is some overlap with Rheumatology with autoimmune disorders.

  • Anaesthesiology
    Focuses on maintaining stable vital body functions before, during and after surgery. They also manage pain both in the acute setting (like surgery) and chronic pain management.

  • Gastroenterology.
    Gastroenterologists are physicians with training in the management of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and liver. Their field, gastroenterology, is the study of the normal function and diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and liver. In essence, all normal activity and disease of the digestive organs are part of the study of Gastroenterology.

  • Hepatology
    Diseases of the liver, such as cirrhosis due to hepatitis or alcohol.

  • Orthopedic Surgery
    Experts in evaluation and treatment of complicated musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. This is primarily a surgical specialty, but also perform non-surgical treatments such as bracing or joint injections, and refer out for physical therapy.

  • Pathology
    You usually won't see this specialist personally; they work behind the scenes. They specialize in diagnosing diseases based on examination of tissue, body fluids, organs, or autopsies (anatomical and clinical pathology). There is also forensic pathology, which you hopefully won’t encounter all too soon.

  • Physical Therapy
    This is not a medical doctor, but is a trained expert (usually at doctorate-level) in treating musculoskeletal injuries and conditions using strengthening and flexibility exercises, stretching, massage, ice/heat, and modalities such as ultrasound, electric stimulation, and other therapies. This includes things like rehab after hip or knee surgery, arthritis, sprains, back injuries, and even tension headaches.

This list is work in progress, under on-going maintenance, and definitely not exhaustive

  • 3
    I'd say: if any pathologist sees you, you are in trouble ;) Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 19:00
  • @LangLangC I‘m wondering: Allergology is only a Zusatz-Weiterbildung, not a Facharzt in Germany. Usually, dermatologists or general practitioners do the job of allergologists in Germany. Is there an entire field of Allergy in other health care systems? // I see, apparently it is in Switzerland. Let‘s just leave it in then.
    – Narusan
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 21:34

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