Choosing a doctor or another type of health professional to help with your health care is very important. Never before have people had so many kinds of doctors and other health professionals to choose from. The relationship you have with your health professional greatly influences the health decisions you make and, ultimately, your health.
Talk with your health professional about being a partner in your health decisions. He or she will most likely support your desire to take an active role in your health care.
Think about these important things when you are choosing a health professional:
- Is the health professional well-trained and experienced?
- Is the health professional certified? Is he or she a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or the College of Family Physicians of Canada?
- Will the health professional be available when needed?
- Will the health professional work in partnership with you?
- Does your health plan provide coverage for this service?
This topic lists many of the specialties and sub-specialties of medical doctors. It also provides listings for other types of health professionals you may see for your health needs. Each listing includes a description of the specialty and information about why you might choose that type of health professional.
Types of Specialists
Medical specialists are doctors who have completed advanced education and clinical training in a specific area of medicine (their specialty area). Examples of medical specialists include the following:
- Addiction psychiatrist
- Adolescent medicine specialist
- Allergist (immunologist)
- Cardiac electrophysiologist
- Cardiovascular surgeon
- Colorectal surgeon
- Critical care medicine specialist
- Developmental pediatrician
- Doctor of osteopathy (DO)
- Emergency medicine specialist
- Family doctor
- Forensic pathologist
- Geriatric medicine specialist
- Gynecologic oncologist
- Hand surgeon
- Hospice and palliative medicine specialist
- Hyperbaric physician
- Infectious disease specialist
- Interventional cardiologist
- Medical examiner
- Medical geneticist
- Neurological surgeon
- Nuclear medicine specialist
- Occupational medicine specialist
- Oral surgeon (maxillofacial surgeon)
- Orthopedic surgeon
- Osteopathic physician (DO)
- Otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist)
- Pain management specialist
- Plastic surgeon
- Radiation oncologist
- Reproductive endocrinologist
- Sleep disorders specialist
- Spinal cord injury specialist
- Sports medicine specialist
- Thoracic surgeon
- Vascular surgeon
Other Health Professionals
Other health professionals include the following:
- Certified diabetes educator (CDE)
- Chiropractor (doctor of chiropractic medicine)
- Dental hygienist
- General practitioner
- Genetic counsellor
- Health care aide
- Licensed nurse (LPN)
- Mental health counsellor
- Naturopathic doctor (ND)
- Nurse practitioner (NP)
- Occupational therapist (OT)
- Physiotherapist (PT)
- Physician assistant (PA)
- Psychiatric nurse
- Radiologic technologist
- Recreational therapist
- Registered dietitian (RD)
- Registered midwife
- Registered nurse (RN)
- Respiratory therapist (RT)
- Social worker
- Speech-language pathologist (speech therapist)
Preparing for Your Appointment
Before the visit
Collect the following information before your visit. Take it with you to your appointment.
- Gather any medical records for previous treatment for the same or a similar problem.
- Make a list of all prescription and non-prescription medicines you are taking.
During the visit
- State your main problem or reason for your visit.
- Describe your symptoms.
- Describe your past experiences with this problem.
- State how this problem is affecting your life.
After the visit
- What your health professional thinks the problem might be.
- What you might expect to happen next.
- What you can do to manage your problem at home.
Questions to ask about medicines, tests, and treatments
- What is the name of the medicine, test, or treatment?
- Why is it needed?
- What are the risks?
- What are potential side effects?
- Are there alternatives?
- How much does it cost?
- Is the cost of the medicine covered by my provincial health plan or private insurance?
- What will happen if I decide not to have treatment?
- How do I take this medicine?
- How will this medicine react with other medicines I am taking?
- How do I prepare for each test or treatment?
Questions to ask at the end of your visit
- When should I return for another visit?
- When will test results be available?
- Should I contact you or will you contact me?
- Be sure to ask for copies of any test results.
- Are there any danger signs that I need to look for?
- What else do I need to know?
For more information, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
Other Places To Get Help
Other Works Consulted
- Anspaugh DJ, et al. (2011). Becoming a responsible health care consumer. In Wellness: Concepts and Applications, 8th ed., pp. 453-484. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Current as ofJune 12, 2017
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