“I’m going to refer you to an otolaryngologist,” your doctor says casually before typing it into your medical records. The syllables roll off her tongue, and all you can do is blink. An oto-what?
Sound familiar? Despite how many Latin-influenced words you use every day (like alibi or impromptu), those doctor titles are on another level. Here’s how to pronounce the most common—and most challenging—doctor names.
1. Opthamologist: /off ● thul ● MAHL ● uh ● jist/
An opthamologist is a medical doctor who works with eye function and eye diseases (not to be confused with an optometrist, who is the primary vision care professional). You might visit your ophthalmologist if you need eye surgery, or have diabetic retinopathy.
2. Hematologist: /hee ● muh ● TAHL ● uh ● jist/
A hematologist specializes in blood health and blood disorders, according to the American Society of Hematology. They treat people with blood disorders like anemia, blood clots, and blood cancers (e.g. leukemia and lymphoma). Psst … Here are facts about blood you probably didn’t know.
3. Endocrinologist: /en ● duh ● krin ● AHL ● uh ● jist/
Endocrinologists work with the endocrine glands. These are hormone-producing glands such as the thyroid, hypothalamus, ovaries, pituitary, and testes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
You might need a visit to an endocrinologist for a wide range of issues, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, thyroid diseases, infertility, or obesity.
4. Gastroenterologist: /gas ● troh ● en ● ter ● AHL ● uh ● jist/
A gastroenterologist knows all about diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (i.e. the gut) and liver, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. You might recognize the prefix gastro- from other words like gastronomy (the practice of cooking) or gastropub (a pub that serves high-quality food). What you might not know is that éntero is the Greek word for “intestines.”
5. Otolaryngologist: /oh ● toh ● layr ● en ● GAHL ● uh ● jist/
An otolaryngologist is also known as an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) physician. They manage surgeries and treat disorders of the ear, nose, throat, head, and neck. For example, you might see an ENT doctor for hearing loss, deviated septums in the nose, chronic sinusitis (i.e. a sinus infection), and swallowing disorders.
Fun fact: Otolaryngology is the oldest medical speciality in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
6. Anesthesiologist: /an ● es ● thee ● zee ● AHL ● uh ● jist/
From a patient’s perspective, anesthesiologists “put you under” or make you numb before a surgery or procedure. However, while you are asleep, they’re busy ensuring your well-being and safety and monitoring your vital signs.
Anesthesiologists also assess your health before and after the procedure, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Before the op, they ensure the safest anesthesia option for you, and after the procedure, they ensure you are safely recovering from the anesthesia effects.
7. Obstetrician: /ahb ● steh ● TRIH ● shun/
The “ob” in ob-gyn, obstetricians specialize in pregnancy and childbirth. While ob-gyns specialize in both obstetrics and gynecology (see #8), an obstetrician focuses on just obstetrics (which comes from the Latin word obstetrix, meaning “midwife”).
An obstetrician may provide prenatal care, infertility treatment, and pregnancy complications, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
8. Gynecologist: / geye ● uh ● KAHL ● uh ● jist/
An obstetrician’s close cousin is a gynecologist, who specializes in women’s reproductive systems. That title makes more sense if you consider that gynaíka is the Greek word for “woman.”
You might see a gynecologist (or an ob-gyn) for regular pap smears, or for treatment of conditions like urinary tract infections, contraceptive counseling, painful periods (dysmenorrhea), pain during sex, sexually transmitted diseases, or endometriosis.
9. Urologist: / yoo ● RAHL ● uh ● jist/
A urologist might be more self-explanatory: They specialize in function and disorders of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. They also treat male organs such as the penis, prostate, and scrotum, according to the American Urological Association.
10. Geriatric specialist: / jehr ● ee ● AT ● rik/
And finally, a geriatric specialist manages and treats the unique needs and challenges of aging people. The goal is to optimize health and improve independence and quality of life for people as they age.
A geriatric specialist may help you if you have developed a condition that impairs your independence or mobility, or if you have complex treatment regimens that need professional assistance.