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Update: Part II: the purposes of different types of medical specialists
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Old 10-16-2011, 02:25 AM
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Exclamation Update: Part II: the purposes of different types of medical specialists

Part III: The purposes of different types of medical specialists

What your family doctor is for
• Everything non-emergent (it's been happening for a while/hasn't changed), and everything non-urgent (eg I will be needing vaccinations for my holiday..)
• Most regular illnesses; including when you need an antibiotic or an antiviral. If you can possibly get in to see your regular doctor (or another doctor at the same clinic) within the first 24 hours of a viral illness, use them rather than the after hours clinic.
• Get after-hours clinics and ER rooms to file copies of their stuff with your regular doctor; or when you next see him, tell him you went to (clinic) or (ER) and why.
• All preventative medicine.
• All ongoing treatment of chronic conditions.
• Your family doctor is your partner in maintaining your general health. He/she needs full information, so whenever it's possible to see your family doctor without actually risking life, limb, or senses by waiting to see them... get an appointment with them. Or at least with their clinic.
• That said, if waiting is worrying you, go to an after-hours clinic. Or the ER, if the after-hours clinic is closed.


What after-hours clinics are for

• Oops, I think this is the flu/a cold/measles/sinus infection/whatever, and I need a doctor's note/want an antiviral script urgently/etc.
• Oh shit I stepped on a rusty nail.
• I think I should see a doctor for this, but my life/limb/senses are not in danger, and my local doctor is closed, and I'm worried.


What Your Pharmacist Is For

• A pharmacist is a drugs specialist. Try to get all (or most) of your prescriptions through the same pharmacist: this will let him/her track whether your meds will interact and screw you over.
• A pharmacist has sufficient medical training to say whether he can treat something with an over the counter medication, or whether you need to see a doctor. A simple wart? Over the counter. A nasty cluster that might not actually be warts? See the doc, who may refer you to a dermatologist.
• If you don't know if something is 'normal', or can be treated, or 'worth bothering a doctor about', you can ask the pharmacist. Most likely, the pharmacist will say 'yes, that can be treated, go see your doctor'. Sometimes they'll say 'oh.. sure. Here, just let me grab (over the counter medication)' or 'here's a pamphlet about it..'


What Specialists Are For

Your family doctor is a generalist: he/she 'specializes' in diagnosing common conditions, and in knowing which type of specialist to refer you to for uncommon conditions. Specialists .. well, they 'know more and more about less and less'. A cardiologist may well know less about the kidneys than your family doctor does: he/she specializes in the heart. Similarly, a nephrologist specializes in the kidneys.
Your family doctor sends you to specialists when there's an issue which requires specialized knowledge.

What Specialised Tests Are For
Radiology, pathology, and all the other 'tests' are ways for the doctor to try to figure out what's going on inside you; in the bits that he wouldn't be able to see without opening you up.

What Nurses Are For
Nurses, especially since Ms Nightingale's innovations, are more than simply 'doctor's assistants'. I've had nurses do everything from wound care or psychological talking therapies to helping me access community support for impoverished and disabled people.
Different types of nurses have different specialties, but as a general rule, nurses do the direct patient care. Doctors, surgeons and specialists diagnose and provide the major treatment (eg, surgery, prescribing drugs, initial wound treatment), and nurses provide ongoing support until the patient no longer requires it.
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Last edited by Seshat; 10-16-2011 at 05:29 AM. Reason: removed an extraneous [/quote]
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