Specialized medicine

In Canada, 51.3% of GPs and 48.7% of specialists work mainly in specialized offices or hospitals. Specialists also supervise medical students and residents. Throughout their careers, they update their knowledge to master the application of new technologies and new treatments, to follow the development and the latest research perspectives and to discover the emergence of new pathologies. At a time when certain fields and regions are experiencing a shortage of specialists, the profession is pondering how technical progress in telecommunications could promote the development of remote services between specialists and GPs.


There are more than 34 specialties divided into four main fields of intervention:

  • Surgery includes general surgery, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, obstetrics-gynecology, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, and cardiac surgery.
  • It is the role of surgical specialists to perform operations and control the various surgical-related procedures.
  • Clinical medicine includes a number of fields of application such as cardiology, dermatology, medical genetics, geriatrics, anesthiology, clinical immunology and allergies, internal medicine, emergency medicine, nephrology, hematology, endocrinology, neurology, pediatrics, physical medicine, pneumology, gastroenterology, psychiatry, medical oncology and rheumatology.
  • The role of clinical medical specialists is to diagnose disease, and to treat it and the physiological or psychological disorders. They may also act as consultants for their colleagues.
  • Radiology includes three specialties: nuclear medicine, diagnostic radiology and radiation oncology.
  • Community health where specialists work mainly in long-term care facilities or in CLSCs.
  • Laboratories are involved in medical microbiology, medical biochemistry, anatomical pathology, as well as infectious diseases.
  • Laboratory medicine specialists work on the disease as such: its nature, genetic behaviour and its development in humans.


  • Examine patients.
  • Recommend tests or analyses.
  • Prescribe medication or treatment.
  • Give advice.
  • Attend conferences and courses.
  • Give talks.
  • Write research reports.


Specialists have a doctor of medicine degree. They also have internships and four to six years of residency in their chosen specialty. All universities have particular specialties that students follow at the master’s or postdoctoral level.

The path is as follows:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Recognized medical faculty
  • Training in a specialization
  • Royal College of Physicians And Surgeons of Canada examination


  • Scientific curiosity promoting the investigation and seeking out of the cause of a disease or anomaly
  • Good listening skills, respect, and patience to support and encourage patients
  • Ability to work on a multidisciplinary team
  • Manual dexterity
  • Good oral and written communication skills


There are various types of compensation for specialists: per procedure, mixed (per day and per procedure), flat fee, hourly or fixed (salary). There are major disparities between Canadian provinces. (Canadian average is $338,000 for medical specialists and $446,000 for surgical specialists). 


Depending on their specialization profile, specialists can decide to over-specialize by doing additional training in the same discipline. They may also choose to acquire a second medical specialty, such as pediatric cardiac surgery.

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