Types of doctors that don’t do surgery

Last Updated on December 14, 2022 by

Do you want to learn about the different types of doctors who don’t do surgery? Whether you are looking for a new doctor or just want to brush up on your medical terminology, our list is sure to help.  There are a variety of doctors that deal with the human body but don’t actually go inside it to do a surgery. They perform other procedures to keep a person healthy or treat an illness or injury. These physicians use advanced technology and techniques that allow them to practice their trade without making an incision into the skin. 

Many of the areas of medical practice involve surgery, and their practitioners are referred to as surgeons. Those who perform little or no surgery are simply referred to as physicians. All surgeons are physicians, but not all physicians are surgeons. How often do you search for types of doctors that don’t do surgery, list of specialist doctors types & types of doctors and salaries without getting the right answer? You need not search further as the article brings you the latest and best information on it all. What more could you possibly ask for.

You will also find related articles on types of doctors and years of schooling, what type of doctor should I be, what type of doctor should I be, do physicians do surgery, types of doctors and salaries and so much more right here on Collegelearners. Take out time to surf through our catalog for more information on related topics.

list of specialist doctors types

Internal medicine doctors are dorks, emergency medicine physicians are cowboys, and dermatologists care about nothing more than money. What’s the truth about doctor stereotypes, and what is more fiction than fact? Let’s find out.

1. Internal Medicine

Internal medicine is the default – what most people think about when they think “doctor”. This is the specialty you go into for one of three reasons. Either (1) you love the idea of being a hospitalist or primary care doctor, (2) you plan on specializing after residency in fellowship such as cardiology or gastroenterology, or (3) you didn’t fall in love with any other specialty, so you this becomes the default.

The stereotype of internal medicine, amongst medical students and physicians, is that they love thinking and talking more than they love doing. It’s often affectionately called “mental masturbation”. The reason this stereotype exists is that on inpatient medicine, teams spend several hours, sometimes up to half a day, rounding on patients and discussing the minor nuances of which antibiotic to prescribe or the minutiae of an obscure disease. Surgeon personalities, such as yours truly, are often less enthusiastic about spending such a long time rounding and prefer to be getting their hands dirty.

But as with most stereotypes, that isn’t fully accurate. Within internal medicine, there are two main ways of practicing: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient medicine is where you take care of patients who are inpatient, meaning they are staying in the hospital. On average, these patients are sicker and more complex from a medical management perspective. With outpatient medicine, you are seeing patients in the clinic. When you think of going to the doctor, this is generally what you think of. You have an appointment, go to the clinic, wait an excessively long time, and then see your physician for 15 minutes to discuss your concerns.

2. Family Medicine

In contrast to internal medicine, which is primarily focused on adult patients, family medicine is focused less on a specific patient population, like adults for internal medicine, or children for pediatrics, or women for gynecology, and is instead focused on the social unit of the family.

The differences and similarities between family medicine and internal medicine are often confusing. Both residencies are generally 3 years. However, internal medicine has much more inpatient and ICU, or intensive care unit, training. Internal medicine also has significant training in internal medicine subspecialties, like endocrinology, rheumatology, infectious diseases, cardiology, and the like. While outpatient clinic medicine is included, it’s less heavily emphasized.

With family medicine, outpatient medicine is the primary focus, although they do receive a bit of gynecology, surgery, musculoskeletal, and other specialty training. In short, family medicine places an emphasis on outpatient medicine, continuity of care, health maintenance, and disease prevention. Internal medicine, given its deeper adult medicine training, is often better suited for managing adult patients with complex medical histories.

The stereotype of family medicine is that you generally go into the specialty if you’re not a particularly strong student. Compared to other specialties, it’s less competitive, the average board scores are low, and the pay is towards the bottom of the stack. That being said, I know several brilliant medical students that went into family medicine because they’re passionate about the field, not because they couldn’t do something else. And plus, a low or high board score is not necessarily predictive of whether or not you’ll be a good physician.

3. Anesthesiology

These next few specialties have something that most others don’t – a more balanced lifestyle. Anesthesiologists get a bad rap for being lazy, and it’s not hard to see why. During surgeries or other operations, anesthesiologists are busy at work at the beginning of the procedure, at the end of the procedure, and at moments in the middle of the procedure. However, compared to surgeons who are constantly “on”, there is a lot more down time. During cases in the operating room, I’ve seen anesthesiologists browsing Reddit on more than one occasion, or checking email, or watching videos.

Anesthesiologists often joke about the blood-brain barrier, and they aren’t referring to the semipermeable border separating circulating blood from the central nervous system within the human body. They’re talkinng about the drapes in the operating room that separate the surgeons, the blood, from the anesthesiologists, the brains.

Being an anesthesiologist is harder than it looks. When things are calm and steady, all is well. But when a patient is unstable and rapidly decompensating, you won’t be envious of their position. It’s not surprising that given the stress of their job and access to drugs, they have some of the highest rates of substance abuse.

All in all, it’s a great specialty. Your hours are more flexible compared to other specialties, pay is relatively good, it’s less competitive to match into, and you still get to work with your hands doing procedures. That being said, there are two deal breakers – ego and operating. If putting aside your ego is tough, it may be hard being second in command in the operating room, or being yelled at by a cranky surgeon who, quite frankly, has no business to be yelling at you. And if you love the art, challenge, and excitement of operating, it’s tough to forever be on the other side of the curtain, too brainy to get your hands dirty.

4. Radiology

If you like computers more than you like people, then radiology may be the right field for you. Radiologists spend the entire day in dark reading rooms looking over radiographs, MRI’s and other imaging . Some say radiologists are vampires, but others claim to have spotted a lone radiologist walking outside the hospital in the daylight. Sounds like Bigfoot if you ask me.

5. Pathology

If you don’t like patients and computers aren’t your jam, then consider pathology. Pathologists are stereotyped as lacking social skills, highly introverted, and not keen on interacting with those pesky homo sapiens.

While pathologists generally don’t have patient interaction or continuity, they are regularly working with physicians of other specialties, just as radiologists do. For that reason, you wouldn’t get very far in pathology, or any specialty for that matter, if you couldn’t work with other people as part of a team.

6. Dermatology

If you love money but don’t like working too hard, dermatology is the field for you. Just know that there are many other people like you, and for that reason it’s incredibly challenging to match into derm.

7. General Medical Officer

If you want to call yourself a surgeon without actually doing any surgery, join the military and become a General Medical Officer, or GMO for short.

GMO is essentially a primary care doctor plus. They are colloquially referred to as “surgeons”, such as flight surgeons, dive surgeons, etc. However, they are NOT surgeons. After completing their intern year, GMOs are assigned to different units, where they undergo additional training to best support their team. For example, Navy Flight doctors would go to flight school where they will learn not only about the physiology involved in flying fighter jets and helicopters, but they themselves will also learn to fly.

Medical school is a long process that really begins in your undergraduate years as a pre-med student. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, all aspiring physicians must go to medical school for four years, and then complete a one year internship and a three or four year residency. It’s a lot of work, and that’s not even including all the grueling applications! 

Doctors choose their medical specialty in their third year of medical school. Many of us are familiar with some of the different types of doctors, since we’ve seen specialists for a variety of reasons, but may not be as familiar with what those specialists do.

In addition to choosing their field of practice, doctors can also specialize further after their residencies by proceeding with a fellowship. For example, a surgeon can further specialize in orthopedic surgery, or an oncologist can specialize in a certain type of cancer. While we don’t have every breakdown of every specialist, you can find a list of common types of doctors below, which can serve as a point of reference when researching your future specialty.

5 Types of Doctors You May Need to See

types of doctors and what they do and salaries

The medical field is growing fast as our population ages and grows at a rapid pace. Overall, jobs for physicians and surgeons are expected to increase by 13% by 2026, which is faster than the overall national average for all jobs. This list is in order of mean salary. Keep in mind that salaries and job growth projections are not exact.

1. Podiatrist

Podiatrists are specialists in the feet and the lower limbs. They treat and manage pain and diseases, as well as injuries, to help keep people active and pain free. A lot of common issues are treatable by podiatrists, such as bunions. They can also help with ongoing issues or injuries.

  • Mean salary: $148,000
  • Job growth: 14% over 10 years (2014)

2. General Practitioner

A general practitioner is trained to provide healthcare to patients of any sex or age. General practitioners often work as primary care physicians (PCPs), see their patients regularly, and are familiar with their medical backgrounds. Most people do (or should) see a PCP at least once a year. When you suspect something else is going on, your first stop is a PCP since they’re responsible for your overall care and well-being. They can then refer you to the right specialist.

  • Mean salary: $195,000
  • Job growth: 14% over 10 years (2016)

3. Pediatrician

A pediatrician is a doctor that specializes in childhood medicine, or those under 18. Some pediatricians will see their patients until they are 21. Pediatricians oversee the health and development of babies and children. They administer vaccines. keep track of a child’s growth, and are the first contact when a child a sick.

  • Mean salary: $212,000
  • Job growth: 10% over 10 years (2014)

4. Endocrinologist

Endocrinologists specialize in glands and all the hormones they produce. Endocrinologists commonly treat diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, and reproductive health. You may see an endocrinologist for any of the above, and will usually be referred by your PCP if you report symptoms or have related discrepancies in your blood work. Some endocrinologists do focus specifically on one area of the body. For example, a reproductive endocrinologists focuses on the reproductive system, and people often work with these doctors when seeking fertility treatments.

  • Mean salary: $212,000
  • Job growth: 14% over 10 years (2014)

5. Neurologist

A neurologist focuses on the anatomy, functions, and disorders of the nerves and nervous systems. Neurologists work with people who have had strokes and those with degenerative diseases of the nervous system, like multiple sclerosis. If you exhibit loss of motor of cognitive function, you could be referred to a neurologist.

  • Mean salary: $244,000
  • Job growth: 14% over 10 years (2014)
Best Doctor Attire - Scrubs or Professional Attire?<br/> — Silver Lining  Scrubs

6. Rheumatologist

A rheumatologist is a specialist in internal medicine of joints, muscles, and bones. Another specialist on our list, an orthopedist, also works with the joints, muscles, and bones, but a rheumatologist is unique because they focus on the origin of the problem, and the body’s overall movement and health. Orthopedists tend to focus on more acute areas of pain and injury. We’ll get into more about orthopedists later. One of the main reasons to see a rheumatologist is because of arthritis, but they also work with patients who have tendinitis, lupus, gout, and more, to manage chronic pain.

  • Mean salary: $257,000
  • Job growth: 15% over 10 years (2016)

7. Allergist/Immunologist

Allergist/Immunologists are trained to treat allergies and disease of the immune system, such as asthma. If allergies can’t be managed by over the counter medicines, you may see an allergist. You may also go to an allergist/immunologist if you need ongoing support managing an autoimmune disease, like Celiac disease.

  • Mean salary: $272,000
  • Job growth: 14.9% over 10 years (2014)

8. Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists focus exclusively on mental health. You may see a psychiatrist if you believe you have symptoms of mental illness. People usually seek out psychiatrists themselves, but some PCP’s now are adding mental health screenings to yearly checkups, and may provide a referral. Psychiatrists can specialize in more than one mental illness, and can also specialize in treating substance abuse. Psychiatrists can informally specialize in specific age groups, though some informally prefer to work with different ages and on different illnesses as they gain experience with patients.

  • Mean salary: $273,000
  • Job growth: 11% over 10 years (2016)

9. Nephrologist

Nephrology is a specialty that focuses on diseases of the kidneys. Nephrologists deal with failure and serious chronic conditions of the kidneys. If your PCP suspects you have a kidney specific disease, they will refer you to a nephrologist.

  • Mean salary: $294,000
  • Job growth: 15% over 10 years (2016)

10. OB/GYN

An obstetrician/gynecologist, this title is commonly shortened to OB/GYN. Gynecologists specialize in diseases of the female reproductive organs, and obstetricians specialize in pregnancy and childbirth. Doctors often specialize in both so that they can help patients with a full range of reproductive medicine. Common reasons for visiting an OB/GYN are: you’re seeking a contraceptive method, are experience irregular period symptoms or pelvic pain, or are seeking prenatal care. It’s also recommended that patients with female reproductive organs have an exam by the OB/GYN once per year.

  • Mean salary: $300,000
  • Job growth: 16% over 10 years (2016)
Premed Students: Avoid 4 Physician Shadowing Mistakes | Medical School  Admissions Doctor | US News

11. Pulmonologist

Pulmonologists focus on the the respiratory organs — the lungs, airway and respiratory muscles. the A PCP will refer you to a pulmonologist if you have a respiratory infection or a chronic issue, like COPD or sleep apnea.

  • Mean salary: $312,000
  • Job growth: 18% over 10 years (2012)

12. Surgeon

A surgeon’s primary function is to perform surgery. They analyze a patient’s health and history, and create a surgical plan that prioritize the patient’s safety and recovery. They also coordinate other staff that participates in surgery, and work with other physicians post-op.

You might see a surgeon for a variety of reasons. Surgeries are typically scheduled in advance, except emergency surgery. Surgeries can be major or minor, and have varying recovering times. Surgeons can specialize in many areas of medicine. Common specializations are cardiac surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and emergency surgeons.

Mean Salary: $322,000

Note: Specialized surgeons have the potential to earn more than general surgeons

Job growth: 20% over 10 years (2014)

13. Emergency Physician

Emergency physicians are trained as physicians, and then go through additional training to master their skills in acute diagnosis in illness and injury. You will see an emergency physician if experiencing a medical emergency and in the emergency room in a hospital. Medical professionals assess a condition in order to determine the immediacy of a medical emergency, and then doctors diagnose, prescribe treatment, and decide whether or not a patient needs to be admitted to the hospital.

  • Mean salary: $350,000
  • Job growth: 14% over 10 years (2016)

14. Ophthalmologist

An ophthalmologist is a type of eye doctor who is trained and certified to provide eye care and perform oral surgery. You would see an ophthalmologist if your PCP or optometrist suspects you have a more serious eye disease, or might need surgery. Some people choose to see ophthalmologists for annual eye exams as well.

  • Mean salary: $357,000
  • Job growth: 13% over 10 years (2016)

15. Oncologist

Oncologists are doctors that deal with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. You will see an oncologist if your usual doctor suspects you have cancer. Your oncologist will order tests, confirm, diagnose, and stage your cancer. They will also develop and oversee your treatment plan. Many other people will be involved in a cancer care team, but an oncologist is the leader of that team.

Oncologists have a wide range of specialties, and almost all of them further specialize once they complete their oncology training. Oncologists can specialize in most types of cancer.

  • Mean salary: $363,000
  • Job growth: 18% by 2022
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16. Urologist

A urologist specializes in function and treatment of the urinary system. If your PCP thinks thinks you have symptoms a urinary disease, such as excessive urinating, they will refer you to a urologist. Urologists often work with other doctors to treat illnesses; for example, a urologist may be involved in treating prostate of bladder cancer alongside an oncologist.

  • Mean salary: $373,000
  • Job growth: 15% over 10 years (2016)

17. Otolaryngologist

Otolaryngologists are often referred to as ENTs, for Ear, Nose, and Throat. ENTs work with diseases of the ear, nose, and throat, hence the nickname. You may see an ENT for infections or for chronic issues like a deviated septum.

  • Mean salary: $383,000
  • Job growth: 14% over 10 years (2016)

18. Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists are pain managers. They oversee pain medications, and administer them during surgeries; we mostly know anesthesiologists as the ones who “put us to sleep” for surgery, and administer a wide range of pain medicines. Though you’re unlikely to see an anesthesiologist outside of the hospital, you’ll work with one before and after surgery to make sure you’re not in pain and your body is healthy overall. Some anesthesiologists do work with patients in the maintenance of chronic pain, and other specialize in different areas of medicine like pediatrics or obstetrics.

  • Mean salary: $386,000
  • Job growth: 15% over 10 years (2016)

19. Dermatologist

A dermatologist is a doctor specializing in the skin. Dermatologists treat chronic and short-term, including cancer, psoriasis, and acne. A primary care doctor would refer you to a dermatologist if a skin condition was beyond the scope of their understanding, or needed more advances care.

  • Mean salary: $392,000
  • Job growth: 14% over 10 years (2014)

20. Radiologist

Radiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating illnesses using medical imaging. Radiologists work with MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, and PET scans. They can decide what tests to run, oversee the tests, and review them to make a diagnosis. Radiologists often work with other care providers; for example, if you came into the ER with a head injury, you would see an emergency doctor, a radiologist, and possible others depending on the diagnosis and extent of the injury.

Radiologists specialize in the types of diseases they diagnose, such as radiation oncology. They can also specialize in interventional or diagnostic radiology, and can help provide diagnoses and treatment plans depending on their specializations.

  • Mean salary: $401,000
  • Job growth: 18% over 10 years (2013)
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21. Gastroenterologist

A gastroenterologist is a doctor who manages the treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and the liver. Persistent symptoms like stomach pain, heartburn, and diarrhea could send you to the gastroenterologist.

  • Mean salary: $408,000
  • Job growth: 18% over 10 years (2012)

22. Cardiologist

Cardiologists treat and diagnose problems with the heart and blood vessels. Cardiologists focus on preventative care, while a cardiac surgeon is responsible for surgery.

Usually, a primary care physician will refer a patient to a cardiologist if the PCP suspects something isn’t right with the heart and cardiovascular system. The cardiologist can then run tests and decide on a treatment plan. Some sub-specialties include invasive or noninvasive cardiologists. Invasive means that they perform tests that are internal, while noninvasive cardiologists only perform tests that are external, like echocardiograms.

  • Mean salary: $423,000
  • Job growth: 20% over 10 years (2015)

23. Orthopedist

Orthopedic doctors treat musculoskeletal problems. They often work with injuries like broken bones, torn ligaments, etc. Orthopedists can also treat chronic issues in the hips, back, and neck, as well as treat arthritis.

You’re the most likely to see an orthopedist if you’ve sustained an injury. Some injuries will heal on their own, but injuries that cause serious pain and greatly decreased mobility should be looked at by an orthopedist.

  • Mean salary: $497,000
  • Job Growth: 14% over 10 years (2016)

How to Choose a Medical Specialty

We’ve described the common types of doctors, but how do you pick the right one for you?

Understand Why Your Speciality Matters

Without a doubt, choosing a medical specialty is a huge decision, since there are many different types of doctors. You have to consider your interests, and what your goals will be once you’re a physician. Some students aim to specialize in an area where there is a lack of physicians, or work toward a specific cause.

Others want to specialize in something they’re interested in, and continue working in research spaces. Picking your specialization comes with a lot of pressure, since the intense and specific training makes it hard to switch if you change your mind. Luckily, there are resources available to help make this decision, and preparing in advance can help you make smart decisions for your medical career.

group of doctors

Explore Different Options

Most medical schools offer shadowing and internship programs. It might be helpful to even look into shadowing and interning when you’re pre-med, so you have time to try different things to see if you like them. Some students begin shadowing even as high schoolers.

Shadowing also helps you understand the culture among doctors within that field, what type of patients you’ll be seeing, and the potential mental and emotional toll. Some specializations deal more directly with vulnerable people and life and death situations, so you need to be prepared.

Consider Other Factors

It’s also important to consider the skill set you’ve developed when choosing what type of physician you wan to be. You may be very interested in cardiac surgery, but did better in courses related to urology. Since you’re going to be practicing your specialization for many years, you have to make sure you will find it rewarding and challenging.

You’ll also need to have at least one backup specialty in mind. Some fields are more competitive, and since the specialization process relies on matching, you may not get matched to your preferred specialty. It’s best to make sure you have at least two specialties that you’re very enthusiastic about and would be equally as happy receiving. 

Residencies are matched through an application process like a job, so you have to make sure that your resume is tailored to those specializations. It’s good to start thinking about it early on, so you can decide if it’s right for you and have time to build a strong application to that field.

Professors and doctors can help guide you. They might be able to see something you’ve missed, like that you’re great with kids, or that you were passionate about vaccination or immunology. Since they’re already practicing and teaching, they’re an integral part in helping you learn about the different types of physicians and where you see yourself. 

We’ve described the common types of doctors, but how do you pick the right one for you?

Understand Why Your Speciality Matters

Without a doubt, choosing a medical specialty is a huge decision, since there are many different types of doctors. You have to consider your interests, and what your goals will be once you’re a physician. Some students aim to specialize in an area where there is a lack of physicians, or work toward a specific cause.

Others want to specialize in something they’re interested in, and continue working in research spaces. Picking your specialization comes with a lot of pressure, since the intense and specific training makes it hard to switch if you change your mind. Luckily, there are resources available to help make this decision, and preparing in advance can help you make smart decisions for your medical career.

Explore Different Options

Most medical schools offer shadowing and internship programs. It might be helpful to even look into shadowing and interning when you’re pre-med, so you have time to try different things to see if you like them. Some students begin shadowing even as high schoolers.

Shadowing also helps you understand the culture among doctors within that field, what type of patients you’ll be seeing, and the potential mental and emotional toll. Some specializations deal more directly with vulnerable people and life and death situations, so you need to be prepared.

Consider Other Factors

It’s also important to consider the skill set you’ve developed when choosing what type of physician you wan to be. You may be very interested in cardiac surgery, but did better in courses related to urology. Since you’re going to be practicing your specialization for many years, you have to make sure you will find it rewarding and challenging.

You’ll also need to have at least one backup specialty in mind. Some fields are more competitive, and since the specialization process relies on matching, you may not get matched to your preferred specialty. It’s best to make sure you have at least two specialties that you’re very enthusiastic about and would be equally as happy receiving. 

Residencies are matched through an application process like a job, so you have to make sure that your resume is tailored to those specializations. It’s good to start thinking about it early on, so you can decide if it’s right for you and have time to build a strong application to that field.

Professors and doctors can help guide you. They might be able to see something you’ve missed, like that you’re great with kids, or that you were passionate about vaccination or immunology. Since they’re already practicing and teaching, they’re an integral part in helping you learn about the different types of physicians and where you see yourself. 

Professors and doctors can help guide you. They might be able to see something you’ve missed, like that you’re great with kids, or that you were passionate about vaccination or immunology. Since they’re already practicing and teaching, they’re an integral part in helping you learn about the different types of physicians and where you see yourself. 

Professors and doctors can help guide you. They might be able to see something you’ve missed, like that you’re great with kids, or that you were passionate about vaccination or immunology. Since they’re already practicing and teaching, they’re an integral part in helping you learn about the different types of physicians and where you see yourself. 

Professors and doctors can help guide you. They might be able to see something you’ve missed, like that you’re great with kids, or that you were passionate about vaccination or immunology. Since they’re already practicing and teaching, they’re an integral part in helping you learn about the different types of physicians and where you see yourself. 

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