Know the Doctor You Need

Frustrated? Confused? We get it. When you’re not feeling well, it can be challenging to find the right doctor to diagnose and treat your specific symptoms.

Let us help you.

Save time and headaches with this guide, created by the Alaska State Medical Association. It’s the easiest way to see which medical professionals have the licenses and training to help you feel better, faster.

And remember, if it’s an emergency, don’t try to diagnose yourself online and delay treatment: Go to an emergency room or call 911. ER staff will make sure your follow-up appointments are with the appropriate doctor for your diagnosis.

 

Find the Right Primary Care Professional

Most people start their wellness journeys with their primary care provider: Some insurance plans require it. Find some great options for maintaining your health and for initial diagnosis.

Family Medicine, General Practice and Internal Medicine physicians (MD and DO) help patients of all ages and can treat a wide variety of conditions. Graduate-level education: four years medical school and three to seven years residency/fellowship training. Patient care hours required through training: 12,000-16,000.

Pediatricians (MD and DO) are specifically trained to care for children; pediatricians provide everything from preventive care like immunization shots to medical treatment for children with chronic illnesses. Graduate-level education: four years medical school and three years residency/fellowship training. Patient care hours required through training: 12,000-16,000.

Nurse Practitioners (NP, ANP, FNP) in Alaska may work with physicians or practice independently. They can diagnose, treat, and manage many ailments and diseases. They can prescribe medications but may not perform surgery. While a nurse practitioner and a physician might perform similar duties in a clinical setting, the difference between the two is the length and depth of their medical training. Graduate-level education for a nurse practitioner is two to four years, residency or fellowship is not required. Patient care hours required through training: 500-720.

Naturopaths (ND) are not physicians, but they may treat patients with hydrotherapy, dietetics, electrotherapy, sanitation, suggestion, and mechanical and manual manipulation. In Alaska they are prohibited from giving, prescribing, or recommending prescription drugs or controlled substances, and they can’t perform surgery. Graduate-level education: four years; residency/fellowship training not required. Patient care hours required through training: 720-1,200.

Find the right specialist

You’ve been putting it off. People keep saying “Go to the doctor!” But which medical professional should you go to? Here’s a little help.

Back, joints and limbs

Orthopedic physicians (MD or DO) can diagnose, treat, prevent, surgically correct, and rehabilitate injury and disease in bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons. Many perform surgery. Graduate-level education: four years medical school and three to seven years residency/fellowship training. Patient care hours required through training: 12,000-16,000.

Chiropractors (DC) aren’t physicians but can diagnose, make treatment recommendations, and refer you to other specialists. Graduate-level education: four years, including one year in a program that includes patient care.

Eyes

Ophthalmologists (MD or DO) are physicians. They can prescribe glasses and contacts, but they mainly treat and manage eye diseases such as glaucoma. They are licensed to perform eye surgery, including cataract treatment and vision correction. Graduate-level education: four years medical school and three to seven years residency/fellowship training. Patient care hours required through training: 12,000-16,000.

Optometrists (OD) can perform your annual eye exam to detect vision and health problems. They aren’t physicians, but they can prescribe glasses, contacts, and some medications. Graduate-level education: four years; residency/fellowship training not required. Patient care hours required through training: one year of clinical rotations.

Pregnancy

Obstetricians (MD or DO) are prepared for every medical aspect of pregnancy and labor, including at-risk pregnancies and delivery complications. They are licensed to do C-sections and other surgical procedures. Graduate-level education: four years medical school and three to seven years residency/fellowship training. Patient care hours required through training: 12,000-16,000.

Midwives can assist women with childbirth but are not physicians. In Alaska there are two types of midwives: certified nurse midwife (CNM) and certified direct-entry midwife (CDM). A CNM typically is an advanced nurse practitioner (see Primary Care), while a CDM undergoes significantly less training. A direct-entry midwife serves a three-to-five-year graduate-level apprenticeship (not a graduate degree requirement). Patient care required through CDM training: 300 cases.

Hearing Loss

Otolaryngologists (MD or DO), also called ear, nose and throat (ENT) physicians, treat hearing loss, ear infections, balance disorders, ringing in the ears, and some cranial nerve disorders, in addition to ailments of the nose, throat, face and neck. They also can perform surgery. Graduate-level education: four years medical school and three to seven years residency/fellowship training. Patient care hours required through training: 12,000-16,000.

Audiologists (Aud.D.) can test your hearing and balance function and fit/dispense hearing aids. Graduate-level education: 75 credit hours and one year of residency/fellowship training. Patient care hours required through training: 1,820.

FAQ

Alaskans ask, we answer.

How can I find out if my Alaska physician is licensed?

You can verify an Alaska doctor’s license using the search engine created by the Alaska State Medical Board, the state agency that issues licenses to physicians.
https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/cbp/Main/Search/Professional

Can you give me a referral for a doctor in Alaska?

Sorry, we can’t show preference. The best way to find the right doctor for you is to ask your primary care provider for a referral.

How can I learn more about the education and training health care professionals receive? 

Click here