Fact Sheet - Physician

What are Physicians?

A physician is a specialist in internal medicine (known as an internist in the United States) who diagnoses and manages complex medical problems. Physicians treat their patients primarily with medication, but may carry out various technical procedures to assist in the diagnosis or treatment of illness.

Are physicians the same as specialists?

Physicians can be called specialists, specialist physician and consultant physician, but they all mean the same thing. Physicians are doctors who have completed an extra six years or more years of training after their initial medical training. They can choose to specialise in a particular area of medicine for example cardiologists are physicians who specialise in diseases of the heart and endocrinologists look after people with diabetes and other glandular disorders.

Are physicians surgeons?

Physicians are not surgeons. Surgeons perform operations. Some physicians may do procedures to assist in finding out what is wrong with you but surgeons do major operations. Your physician may refer you to a surgeon for an operation once he has diagnosed your condition.

What training is required to become a physician?

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians trains already qualified Doctors to become physicians. Physician training takes a minimum of six years. People who successfully complete the College physician training program will have the initials FRACP (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians) after their name.

The College trains physicians in the following specialties:

  • Cardiology

    Diseases of the heart
    Appropriate Referrals include: Assessment of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, peripheral vascular diseases and conditions
  • Clinical Genetics

    Disorders of the genes
  • Clinical Pharmacology

    The effects of drugs and management of drug therapy
  • Community Child Health

    The effects of drugs and management of drug therapy
  • Paediatric

    Diagnosis and management of acute/emergency paediatric problems
  • Endocrinology

    Disorders of internal glands and hormones, including diabetes and thyroid disorders.
    Appropriate Referrals include: injury to lungs, chest, liver, alimentary canal, kidneys & bowel; Diabetes, type 1 and 2; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Disorders of the Thyroid and Pituitary glands (underactive thyroid, overactive thyroid, benign nodules, inflammations of the thyroid and malignant cancers); Breast cancer; Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia; High blood cholesterol; High blood pressure; Erectile dysfunction; Male infertility; Osteoporosis; Respiratory Distress Syndrome (newborns)
  • Gastroenterology and Hepatology

    Diseases of the gut, liver and associated organs.
    Appropriate Referrals include: Diseases or trauma affecting the gastro-intestinal tract, including stomach, intestines, gall bladder, alimentary canal, pancreas, bowels and bile duct; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, F and G; Viral and other forms of chronic liver disease; acid related injuries of gastrointestinal tract; chronic inflammatory bowel disease; irritable bowel syndrome; 'peptic' ulcer disease, Haemochromatosis; Coeliac disease; Gallstones; Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease; Epstein-Barr (glandular fever) virus and Cytomegalovirus (CMV).
  • General Medicine

    Diagnosis and management of conditions that maybe be complex, difficult to diagnose or involve multiple organs and systems of the body
  • Geriatric Medicine

    Management of illness and maintenance of health in aged people
  • General Paediatrics

    Diagnosis and management of infants, children and adolescents with undifferentiated and complex conditions
  • Haematology

    Diseases of the blood
    Appropriate Referrals include: serious blood disorders, blood transfusion issues, cancer, leukemia, lymphs, iron deficiency, thrombosis, staphylococcal; amycoidosis; anaemia; Bone marrow failure syndromes; Haemochromatosis; Haemophilia; Hodgkin's disease; Infection and Haematological disorders; iron deficiency and overload disorders; lymphoproliferative disorders; Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; Platelet disorders; Polycythemia; Porphyria and Sickle Cell disease
  • Immunology & Allergy

    Diseases affecting the immune system
  • Infectious Diseases

    Diseases caused by infections
    Appropriate Referrals include: Infectious diseases Hep A, B, C, D, E. Chronic fatigue, AIDS. Community infections. Vaccination issues. Hospital infections. Travel infections. Tuberculosis
  • Intensive Care Medicine

    Management of critically ill patients
  • Neonatal/Perinatal Medicine

    Care of the foetus, the premature and ill new born
  • Nephrology

    Diseases of the kidneys
  • Neurology

    Diseases of the nervous system, including the brain
    Appropriate Referrals include: head and spinal injuries; migraine; epilepsy; Multiple Sclerosis; speech and vertigo; carpal tunnel syndrome, weakness, RSI, Cerebral palsy
  • Nuclear Medicine

    The use of radioactivity for diagnosis, and occasionally, the treatment of illness
  • Oncology

    Management of patients with cancer and tumours
  • Paediatrics & Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Diagnosis and management of children and adolescents with psychological difficulties
  • Paediatric Rehabilitation Medicine

    The management of disability and handicap arising from impairments in children and adolescents
  • Palliative Medicine

    Management of people with terminal illnesses; emphasising the quality of life
  • Rheumatology

    Management of joint, muscle and soft tissue disorders
    Appropriate Referrals include: Arthritis, inflammatory & degenerative diseases of joints/spine; RSI; musculoskeletal; occupational & traumatic soft tissue/regional pain syndromes; connective tissue diseases; reflex sympathetic dystrophy, chronic fatigue syndrome, rotator cuff injury; Necrosis of bone, whiplash, epicondylitis, carpal tunnel, Ross River fever.
  • Sleep Medicine

    Diagnosis and management of sleeping and breathing disorders
  • Thoracic Medicine

    Management of lung disorders
    Appropriate Referrals include: Respiratory diseases, asthma, interstitial lung disease, dust diseases, asbestos related diseases, malignancy, pathology of lung disease, chest injuries