39 Medical Disciplines and Specialties
Here is a list of general terms that refer to medical experts and various disciplines. If you have any questions about medical terms during the time of your care, be sure to ask your doctor or a member of hospital staff for an explanation.
Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs)
APNs have education and clinical experience beyond the basic training and licensing required of all RNs
Anesthesia, either general or spinal block for surgeries and some forms of pain control
Special training and skills to perform delicate operations on the heart, blood vessels, and lungs
Special training and skill in finding, treating, and preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
CNAs perform the most basic needs for patients and work under the supervision of a nurse. CNAs might also be referred to as Home Health Aides, Personal Care Assistants, Nurse’s Aides or Patient Care Technicians.
Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs)
RNs with graduate training in women’s health care needs, including prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum care.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs)
RNs with graduate training in the field of anesthesia. RNs with graduate training in the field of anesthesia.
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs)
RNs have graduate training in a specialized clinical field such as cardiac, psychiatric, or community health.
Hormonal and metabolic disorders, including diabetes
Digestive system disorders
Common surgeries involving any part of the body
Pregnancy (normal or problematic), women’s reproductive tract disorders
Disorders of the immune system and allergies
Infections affecting the tissues of any body system
Generalist; family practice, internal medicine
Treats cancer with medicine or chemotherapy
Nervous system disorders
Nurse Practitioners (NPs)
RNs with graduate training in primary care. In some states, NPs can prescribe medications.
Specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, including well women’s health care and prenatal care. Routine health maintenance and screenings (such as a Pap smear) and family planning
Cancer and some other diseases that resist treatment
Eye disorders and surgery
Bone and connective tissue disorders
Generalist; family practice, internal medicine- can be a D.O., Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine or an M.D., Doctor of Medicine
Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) disorders
Deals with infants, children, and teenagers. In some cases begins diagnosis and treatment in the fetus and continues into adulthood
Periodontists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease
Physical and rehabilitative medicine
Coordinate return to optimal functioning in individuals with musculoskeletal and neurological disorders (such as low back injury, spinal cord injuries, and stroke)
Physician assistant (PA)
Trained in the family practice model for a primary care role.
Cosmetic and reconstructive surgeons
Foot and ankle specialist
Emotional or mental disorders
Respiratory tract disorders
Specialize in treating cancer with therapeutic radiation.
X-rays and related procedures (such as ultrasound, CT, and MRI)
Registered nurses (RN)
Graduates from nursing program, passed state board examinations, licensed by the state
Specialize in the surgical aspects of cancer including biopsy, staging, and surgical resection of tumors
Disorders of the male reproductive and urinary tracts and the female urinary tract
The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice. These tips are from doctors, nurses and people who have shared their real-life advice; always check with a doctor or other appropriate medical professional you trust before making any healthcare changes.