What Type of Doctor Do I Need?

There are many types of doctors for certain health conditions as well as for your on-going care to manage your health overall. Below is a simple list of common types of doctors/providers and descriptions of what they do.

Primary Care Providers (PCP)

Your PCP is the provider you may see first for checkups and health problems. PCPs can help manage your overall health. Type of PCPs include:

  • Family Physician: Trained to provide care for children and adults of all ages and may include pregnancy care, gynecological care (women’s health) and minor surgery. Everyone in your family can have this one doctor to see and they will be familiar with your family history.
  • Internal Medicine (Internist): Trained to provide care for adults and the elderly; these doctors receive extensive training in the body’s internal organ systems. (NOTE: There are Internal Medicine-Pediatrics doctors that are trained to treat children as well)
  • Nurse Practitioner (CNP or NP): Nurses with graduate training that can serve as a primary care provider in family medicine (FNP), pediatrics (PNP), adult care (ANP), or geriatrics (GNP). Others are trained to address women's health care (common concerns and routine screenings) and family planning. CNPs can also prescribe medicines.
  • Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN): Doctors who specialize in obstetrics (pregnancy care) and gynecology, including women's health care, wellness, and prenatal care. Many women use an OB/GYN as their primary care provider.
  • Pediatrician: Specializes in children’s health from birth to age 18, although many patients continue to see their pediatrician until their early 20s.
  • Physician Assistant (PA): Trained to provide a wide range of services in collaboration with a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).

Your primary care provider may refer you to professionals in various specialties when necessary. The following outlines some of the most commons specialists and what they generally diagnose and treat:

  • Cardiologist -- heart disorders
  • Dermatologist -- skin disorders (including hair and scalp issues)
  • Endocrinologist -- hormonal and metabolic disorders, including diabetes
  • Gastroenterologist -- digestive system disorders (stomach, bowels, intestines, liver, pancreas and gallbladder)
  • Hematologist -- blood disorders
  • Immunologist -- disorders of the immune system
  • Nephrologist -- kidney disorders
  • Neurologist -- nervous system disorders
  • Obstetrician/Gynecologist -- pregnancy and women's reproductive disorders
  • Oncologist -- cancer treatment
  • Ophthalmologist -- eye disorders and surgery
  • Orthopedist -- bone and connective tissue disorders, including joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons
  • Otorhinolaryngologist -- ear, nose, and throat (ENT) disorders
  • Physical Therapist (rehabilitative medicine) -- for disorders such as low back injury, spinal cord injuries, and stroke
  • Psychiatrist -- emotional or mental disorders
  • Pulmonologist (lung) -- respiratory tract disorders
  • Rheumatologist -- pain and other symptoms related to joints and other parts of the musculoskeletal system including arthritis
  • Urologist -- disorders of the male reproductive system and urinary tract and the female urinary tract

[SOURCE: U.S. National Library of Medicine, Health Partners, Very Well Health]

Helpful Links

Types of Health Care Providers

For a more complete list and description of providers/specialists, visit this webpage at: View List

Health Screenings & Checkups

Find out what health screenings and regular checkups you should get to help you avoid health issues in the future: For Women | For Men

Working With Your Doctor

Helpful information on how to talk to your doctor, preventive services and overall tips on working with your doctor: Read More