Shadowing a DoctorApril 9, 2014
Family medicine deals with the total health care of the individual and the family. Family medicine physicians diagnose and treat a wide variety of ailments in patients of all ages. Family physicians receive a broad range of training that includes internal medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, geriatrics and psychiatry. Although the scope and practice of family medicine is broad, it is a precise discipline, combining a unique blend of biomedical, behavioural and social sciences. These specialists often serve as their patients’ advocate in all health-related matters. Special emphasis is placed on prevention and the primary care of the entire families, utilizing community resources when appropriate. Family physicians use a diverse range of cognitive and procedural skills and coordinate care with other specialists when necessary.
Subspecialties of family medicine include adolescent medicine, geriatric medicine and sports medicine.
Nuclear medicine specialists employ their special knowledge of the properties of radioactive atoms and molecules to diagnose and treat various diseases as well as in research. Radiation detection and imaging instrument systems help detect various types of diseases by altering the function and metabolism of normal tissues, cells and organs. These methodologies help in early detection of diseases such as cancer and coronary artery disease and in early detection of blood clot in the lungs. Unique forms of radioactive molecules are used to relieve the severe pain of cancer that has spread to bone. They are also used to attack and kill cancer cells such as lymphoma or thyroid cancer.
A medical geneticist receives training in recognising genetic disorders and birth defects, understanding the significance of these with respect to the well-being of the patient and establishing a proper treatment regimen for the patient. Most importantly, medical geneticists help the patient and the patient’s family understand and cope with the disorder. This specialist uses modern cytogenetic, biochemical and radiologic testing to assist in specialised genetic counselling, implements necessary therapeutic interventions, and provides prevention through prenatal diagnosis.
Some medical geneticists work primarily with infants and children. Others focus on the genetic problems of foetuses. Internists with training in medical genetics work with adult patients who may have familial forms of cancer, heart disease or neurological disease. There are also dermatologists, ophthalmologists and pathologists who are medical geneticists. Huge strides are being made in several areas of human genetics, leading to greater understanding of genes and how they function. Such technologic advances can help earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment measures. An increasingly important role of the medical geneticist is to act as the link between scientists who are making these technologic advances and patients who may benefit from them.
A sleep medicine physician specialises in diagnosing and managing sleep-related clinical conditions. This subspecialty encompasses the clinical assessment and treatment of the entire range of sleep disorders including narcolepsy or excessive sleepiness, insomnias, sleep related breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea, circadian rhythm disorders and other conditions associated with the sleep-wake cycle.