The field of medicine is quite vast with many different types of healthcare and medical professions. Some of these professionals are doctors who are trained in surgery in their specific field, while others treat patients in their field, but are not trained to perform surgery. Whether you are looking for a career as a non-surgical doctor or you’re just wondering what types of doctors don’t do surgery, this article provides some insights.

7 Types of Non-Surgical Doctors

Doctors who perform surgeries are known as surgeons, and those who don’t are known as physicians. All surgeons are physicians, but all physicians are not surgeons. Both are experts in their respective fields, the only difference being in the types of treatment they provide. Some types of non-surgical doctors are:

1. Internal Medicine

Internal medicine doctors are primary care physicians, the doctors you first consult when the initial sign of any sickness occurs. They are one of the most common types of doctors who don’t do surgery. Within internal medicine, you can either practice inpatient or outpatient. Inpatient practice is when doctors treat patients who need to be admitted in the hospital for observation or for a more complex form of treatment. Outpatient treatment involves treating patients at a clinic or at a hospital during the brief time the appointment lasts.

2. Family Medicine

Unlike internal medicine, which mostly deals with adult patients, family medicine deals with patients of all ages and treats not just one patient, but their family members as well. Family medicine focuses more on outpatient treatment, maintaining health, and preventing illnesses.

3. Anesthesiology

Anesthesiologists have a comparatively relaxed work schedule. Their expertise is required only at the beginning, in between, or at the end of a surgery. Unlike surgeons, they don’t need to be present throughout the surgery. Although this job looks relatively easy, it comes with its share of stress. When a patient who’s being operated on suddenly loses stability and is rapidly decompensating, anesthesiologists need to perform in a high-pressure situation and be accurate while administering anesthesia. However, you need to be prepared to be second-in-charge in an operating theater.

4. Radiology

Radiologists do pretty cool things like taking MRI scans and other types of imaging procedures, analyzing them, and sending reports to the concerned medical specialist. If you choose to become a radiologist, you will get to work with the latest technology and computers, while also having a relatively stress-free work routine.

5. Pathology

A pathologist examines bodies, body tissues, fluids or parts of organs, and performs lab tests. Pathologists don’t interact with patients; they work behind the curtains alongside other technicians and assist medical specialists in diagnosing a disease. It’s the perfect role if interacting with patients doesn’t interest you.

6. Dermatology

Dermatologists are doctors who specialize in skin, hair, and nails. They also treat cosmetic disorders like hair loss, acne, and other skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and more. Dermatologists examine patients, order lab tests, and provide treatment through medication and non-surgical remedies.

7. General Medical Officer

If you want to work as a doctor in the special forces, a general medical officer is a way to go. They are referred to as surgeons, such as “dive surgeons”, but do not actually perform surgery. They receive additional training after medical school to be able to perform their duties in an unconventional setting. For example, a Navy Flight Doctor will have to be trained in flying as well as medicine in order to practice.

When Do You Get To Choose Your Specialization?

The first two years of medical school, which is after four years of your undergraduate degree, will focus on gaining theoretical knowledge in medicine, covering all the basics, as well as on lab work. The final two years of medicine is when you will have clinical rotations between different departments, during which you will gain practical experience under the supervision of experienced doctors. It is during these years of your medical education that you get to choose which specialization you want to pursue further, and plan your next steps accordingly.

Not all doctors want to be surgeons, so it’s important to consider the pros and cons of a surgical and non-surgical field before choosing one. However, both types of careers are equally rewarding and come with their own set of challenges.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of non-surgical career options for those interested in the healthcare industry. From internal medicine to general medical positions, a variety of roles do not require surgery. It’s important to carefully consider your interests, skills, and educational background when choosing a career path. With the right training and experience, you can find a fulfilling and rewarding career in healthcare without ever having to perform surgery.
If you want to explore non-surgical career options in the healthcare industry, consider checking out AUA’s programs and resources to help you pursue a rewarding healthcare career.


What is considered non-surgical?

Non-surgical procedures refer to any medical treatment that does not involve surgical incisions or the removal of tissue. Examples include injectables, laser treatments, and chemical peels.

What is the rarest doctor?

In general, some of the rarest medical specialties include transplant surgery, pediatric cardiology, and medical genetics.

What is a non-surgical practitioner?

A non-surgical practitioner is a healthcare provider who specializes in non-surgical treatments and procedures, such as injectables, skin rejuvenation, and laser treatments. Examples of non-surgical practitioners include dermatologists, cosmetic surgeons, and medical aestheticians.

What is the most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure?

The most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure is Botox, a neurotoxin injection that temporarily paralyzes muscles to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Other popular non-surgical cosmetic procedures include dermal fillers, laser hair removal, and chemical peels.