What is a
Physician and What is a Specialist

What is a Physician?

In Hawaii, not all doctors are Medical Doctors (MDs) or Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs). An MD or DO physician is highly skilled and trained in the science and art of medicine. An MD must have a completed a minimum of the followingrequirements:

  • Graduation from an accredited four-year university with a minimum of one and a half years of study in chemistry, one year of study in physics, and one year of study in biology.
  • Graduation from four years of medical school.
  • Completion of one year of residency in order to be licensed as an MD (sometimes more, depending on state).
  • Additional three or more years, can be as many as eight, of clinical training to master a specialty.

Osteopathic physicians (DOs) are trained similarly to MDs in scientific medicine, but they place special emphasis on the role of the bones, muscles, and joints in the healthy functioning of the human body. A DO can prescribe medicines and is eligible to belong to the HMA.

In addition to their medical diplomas, some physicians also are lawyers, teachers, public health administrators, and certified financial planners. Also, some are artists, sculptors, photographers, and musicians.

Physicians also participate in community service. Some are involved in marathons or serve as team physicians for football, baseball, and other team sports. Others work in child abuse prevention, societies to help the deaf and hearing impaired, assistance to the aging and elder citizens, environmental issues, alcohol and other substance abuse issues, toxic waste control, communicable disease prevention and cure. Many devote their time to political action such as legislative lobbying and support of political issues and candidates.

An MD or DO is not just a person called "Doctor"- they are caring, nurturing, and dedicated persons who place humankind first and foremost.

What is a Specialist?

A specialist is a physician who has completed the required training, not only four years undergraduate school, four years medical school, and at least one year residency, but then has chosen to study additional years to master a specific area of medical expertise. The number of years devoted to education and training could be as many as 15.

Aerospace Medicine focuses on physical examinations assessing the special needs of pilots and astronauts.

Allergists and Immunologists treat and evaluate nasal, bronchial, skin, GI, and neurological allergies, insect stings, drug and local anesthesia sensitivities.

Anesthesiologists administer medications to patients prior to and during surgery to ensure pain relief and use monitoring equipment to ensure patient safety.

Cardiologists treat and diagnose heart attacks and conditions using procedures such as angiograms, echocardiograms, and coronary angioplasty.

Dermatologists treat disorders of the skin, hair, and nails.

Emergency Medicine specialists treat all types of emergency and urgent medical problems.

Endocrinologists evaluate, diagnose, and treat illnesses resulting from abnormalities of the hormone-producing glands, such as thyroid, pituitary, adrenals and pancreas.

Family Practice specializes in primary care and gives each patient continuing and comprehensive health care in the environment of family and community.

Gastroenterologists provide evaluation and treatment of stomach esophagus, colon, and all intestinal problems including ulcers.

General Surgeons are trained to perform all types of surgical procedures; some specialize in abdominal and soft tissue masses.

Hematologists study and treat blood diseases and patients’ cases are referred by other physicians.

Internal Medicine specializes in the health care of adults and adolescents. Emphasis on prevention, early diagnosis, and nonsurgical treatment of all medical conditions through a long-term personal relationship with patients.

Nephrologists medically treat all types of kidney disease, including management of renal dialysis and kidney transplants.

Neurologists provide diagnostic workup and treatment for nervous system disorders with medicines and rehabilitation. They treat disorders such as brain damage, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.

Neurosurgeons operate on the brain, spinal cord, nervous system and nerves.

Nuclear Medicine involves mostly diagnostic studies using tiny amounts of radioactive materials, and also treats thyroid disease.

Obstetricians and Gynecologists (OB/GYN) treat female reproductive conditions and disorders including menopause, infertility, prenatal care, delivery, and arranges for birth control.

Oncologists treat cancer such as lymphoma, leukemia and solid tumors. Subspecialties include radiation and surgical oncology.

Ophthalmologists provide comprehensive eye care including medical, surgical, and complete optical care and services.

Orthopedic Surgeons perform surgery and medically treat congenital deformities, defects, diseases, and injuries of the bone and joint system.

Otolaryngologists medically and surgically treat ear, nose, throat and related structures of the face and neck. This includes cancer, tumors, injuries, infections and deformities.

Pathologists provide lab testing and evaluation of surgical biopsies and cytology smears, also chemistry, hematology, urinalysis, serology, and coagulation studies.

Pediatricians provide primary care from birth to young adults, including well-child care, preventive care, and care for acute and chronic illnesses.

Physical Medicine, performed by a physiatrist, uses exercises, hot packs, ultrasound, ice, manipulation, traction, massage, electricity and braces as treatments. Medications are prescribed and surgery is considered when appropriate.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons seek to heal and restore patients with injury, disfigurement or scarring resulting from accidents, disease or birth defects. Includes aesthetic or cosmetic surgery to correct or recontour facial and bodily features not pleasing to the patient.

Psychiatrists specialize in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and emotional problems. They are trained to understand both the physical and emotional components of illness and are qualified to order laboratory tests and to prescribe medications as well as to treat psychological problems.

Radiologists interpret x-rays and other imaging modalities (CT, MRI, mammogram, ultrasound) to diagnose and treat. Uses x-rays to help other physicians perform numerous procedures.

Urologists treat urinary tract disorders, providing medical and surgical treatment for kidney ailments, male sexual problems, and performs vasectomies for male birth control.

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