What is a Physician and does this differ from a Specialist?
The terminology used to refer to medical practitioners is becoming increasingly confusing. The word Specialist is often used to mean a variety of qualifications or special interests of a doctor. Physician is another term that is easily misunderstood.
What is a Physician?
In Australasia, a physician is a medical specialist who has completed at least six years of additional training in a medical specialisation after their medical degree and internship. In some countries (such as the United States of America) the term Physician is interchangeable with medical practitioner. This is not the case in New Zealand and Australia.
Specialist versus Physician?
All Physicians are Specialists, but not all Specialists are Physicians. Physicians training and accreditation is under the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP). The term "Skin Specialist" is sometimes used by those without Dermatology Specialist training.
So what is a Dermatologist?
Every Dermatologist trained in New Zealand is a RACP specialist Physician. They are also all Fellows of the New Zealand Dermatological Society (FNZDS). Further information is available at the website of the New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated.