Shadowing a DoctorApril 4, 2014
Overview of Different Specialties and Sub-Specialties You Can Choose From
Choosing a specialty is often one of the hardest things for most med school graduates. Each specialty has its own distinct complexities and unless you are passionate about any one stream of medicine, you may find it difficult to make that choice.
To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a series of specialties and the many sub specialties within them that you can consider. This is the first in the series.
Internal Medicine – Specialty & Sub-Specialty Information
An internist is a personal physician who provides comprehensive, long-term care to adolescents, adults and the elderly. Internal medicine physicians manage both common and complex illnesses. Their primary responsibilities includes disease screening and heath maintenance, diagnosis and care of acute and chronic medical conditions, management of patients with multiple, complex medical problems, and serving as consultants to other disciplines such as surgery, obstetrics, and family medicine. They are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of infections, cancer and diseases affecting the heart, kidneys, blood and joints, as well as the vascular, respiratory and digestive systems.
Sub-Specialties of Internal Medicine
Cardiovascular Disease – Cardiovascular disease is concerned with diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiology involves the diagnosis prevention, and management of disorders of the cardiovascular system, Management of risk factors for disease and early diagnosis and intervention for established disease are crucial aspects of the specialty.
Critical Care Medicine – Critical Care Medicine involves the diagnosis, treatment and support of patients with multiple organ dysfunctions. This specialist is responsible for facilitating and coordinating patient care among the primary physician, the critical care staff and other specialists.
Advanced Heart Failure & Transplant Cardiology – Advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology encompasses the specialised knowledge and skills necessary to care for patients with advanced heart failure, and those who have undergone or are awaiting transplantation.
Interventional Cardiology – This is an area of medicine within the subspecialty of cardiovascular disease. It involves the use of specialised imaging and other diagnostic techniques to determine pressure and blood flow in the coronary arteries and chambers of the heart. An interventional cardiologist treats different abnormalities that impair the function of the cardiovascular system.
Endocrinology, Diabetes, & Metabolism – This sub-specialty involves the diagnosis, management and treatment of disorders of the internal (endocrine) glands such as the thyroid and adrenal glands. The principle problems endocrinologists deal with include thyroid dysfunction, goitre, diabetes mellitus, hyper- hypocalcaemia, adrenal cortex dysfunction, endocrine hypertension and pituitary disorders.
Gastroenterology – A gastroenterologist is an internist who specialises in diagnosing and treating diseases of the digestive organs including the stomach, oesophagus, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and bowels. This specialist treats conditions such as abdominal pain, jaundice, ulcers, diarrhoea and cancer and performs complex diagnostic and therapeutic procedures using endoscopes to examine internal organs.
Haematology – Haematology is a subspecialty of internal medicine concerned with the development, function, and diseases of the blood, bone marrow, vascular system, spleen, and lymph glands. A haematologist specialises in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and investigation of disorders of the lymphatic and haemostatic systems as well as disorders of the interaction between blood cells and blood vessel walls.
Haematology & Oncology – Haematology and oncology deal with the diagnosis, management and treatment of patients with organ-specific cancers and various blood and neoplastic disorders.
Geriatric Medicine – A geriatrician has special knowledge of the aging process and deals with the complex medical and psychosocial problems of older adults.
Infectious Disease – This sub-special deals with diagnosing, managing and treating all types of communicable diseases caused by viral, fungal, parasitic and bacterial infections including the appropriate use of vaccines, antimicrobial agents, and other immune-biological agents.
Oncology – Oncology is concerned with diagnosing and treating benign and malignant tumours and other forms of cancer. Oncologists administer chemotherapy for malignancy and work with surgeons and radiotherapists on other treatments for cancer. They often see patients who are seriously ill and require extensive treatment. Although the specialty is mainly office-based, oncologists provide a significant amount of consultation and primary inpatient care.
Pulmonary Disease – Pulmonologists treat diseases of the lungs and airways. They diagnose and treat asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, cancer, emphysema, pleurisy and other complex disorders of the lungs.
Nephrology – This sub specialty deals with diagnosing and managing diseases of the kidneys and urinary system.
Rheumatology – Rheumatology deals with diseases of muscles, tendons, joints and bones. A rheumatologist diagnoses and treats chronic and acute conditions, including arthritis, gout, lupus, muscle strains, systemic rheumatic diseases, back pain, bursitis and athletic injuries
Urology – Urologists focus on the medical and surgical treatment of the adrenal gland, the female urinary tract and the male genitourinary system. They treat patients with disorders of the kidney, bladder, ureter, prostate, urethra, and male genital structure disorders. They often coordinate care with nephrologists for patients with kidney disease and may perform kidney transplantations.