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Who should I see for what? The doctor dictionary

We’ve put together some common doctors & their specialities

A male physiotherapist helps a young man stretch out his arm
A male physiotherapist helps a young man stretch out his arm

You’ve got a strange ache, or a funny pain and you know you need to get professional help; but, which doc should you call?

So you never have to ask ‘doctor who?’ we’ve put together a dictionary of some common health professionals and their specialities.

Don’t forget to check you’ve got nib extras cover – you can choose an extras package that includes the services that are important to you from chiro to podiatry.

If you’re already an nib member, you can check what you’re covered for using member account.


Chiropractors, or chiros, focus on the relationship between your body’s structure (primarily spine) and its function. Chiropractic treatment can involve spinal and joint adjustments, advice, exercises and stretching.

Why visit a chiropractor? Some common reasons a patient might visit is for injury prevention, rehabilitation, to improve athletic performance or reduce pain.


Dentists specialise in the mouth, teeth and gums and can help prevent and detect tooth decay, mouth and gum disease and oral cancer. nib offers a number of policies which include benefits for general dental treatment and if you visit an nib dental care centre, you could get 100% back1 on dental check-ups.

Why visit a dentist? You should aim to visit the dentist every six months – and more often if you have tooth sensitivity, pain or bleeding.


A dermatologist specialises in dealing with skin, hair and nails. They regularly help diagnose, treat and prevent a range of ailments from skin cancers and sunspots to acne, eczema and skin infections.

Why visit a dermatologist? You might visit a dermatologist if you have itching and rashes, or cosmetic skin concerns (like acne). Your GP might also refer you to a dermatologist for skin cancer.


Dietitians are experts on diet and nutrition, with the aim to prevent and treat illness by looking at food intake and eating behaviour. They can assess nutritional needs, develop eating plans and provide nutrition counselling and support.

Why visit a dietitian? Many people assume that you’d only visit a dietitian if you want to lose weight. However, dietitians can also help you to prevent or recover from an illness, manage an allergy or increase energy levels.

Exercise Physiologist

Exercise physiologists are allied health professionals who design and deliver exercises to those with medical conditions, injuries or disabilities.

Why visit an exercise physiologist? These health providers can help develop an exercise program that’s tailored to your individual needs, making it a good option if you have a medical condition or injury that could be improved with exercise.

Occupational therapist

Occupational therapists help people to work, get back to work or engage in the activities of everyday life, by either modifying the activity or the environment to suit the individual.

Why visit an occupational therapist? Occupational therapists can help rehabilitate people after significant surgery such as a hip replacement, or a stroke and assess and modify a patient’s home or workplace to improve their safety and maximise their independence.

A female optometrist places glasses on a patient


Optometrists focus on the eye and visual system and conduct eye examinations, diagnosis and treatment. This may include glasses prescriptions, medication or eye exercises. You can visit nib First Choice Optical network to help you to search for local optometrists; it's our community of specially selected health providers, who have promised they will deliver quality care and value for money.

Why visit an optometrist? You should aim to get your eyes checked at least every two years and more regularly if you notice any problems like low vision, headaches or trouble focusing.


Like a dentist, an orthodontist deals with the mouth and teeth, however they specialise in helping to correctly align teeth, bites and jaws.

Why visit an orthodontist? Orthodontists are best known for fitting and managing braces, implants and plates.


Osteopaths, or osteos, use a range of techniques including massage and stretching to treat your body’s soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments). Osteos can perform examinations and help treat pain, soreness and overuse injuries.

Why visit an osteopath? Osteopaths help treat patients with aches in the head, back and neck or those who suffer from repetitive strain injuries or whiplash.


Physiotherapists, or physios, help people affected by injuries, illness or disability using manual therapy, education, advice and movements.

Why visit a physiotherapist? Patients can visit a physio for a range of conditions including muscular pain, osteoporosis and arthritis.


The role of a podiatrist is to assess, diagnose and treat the foot and lower limb.

Why visit a podiatrist? Podiatrists can assist with skin and nail problems, foot and ankle injuries and problems with gait.


Psychologists are experts in human behaviour and study the things that influence how you think, feel and learn.

Why visit a psychologist? Psychologists can help you overcome challenges and improve performance, as well as work directly with those experiencing mental health disorders.

Speech pathologist

Speech pathologists specialise in communication disorders which can include difficulties with speaking, understanding language, writing, stuttering and reading.

Why visit a speech pathologist? From helping with stroke recovery and brain injuries, to developmental delays and learning disabilities, speech pathologists offer examination, diagnosis and treatment options.

Looking for a private health insurance that offers Extras coverage for these types of specialists? You can get a quote in minutes with nib.

At nib, we believe that keeping healthy should be simple, so we’ve developed a First Choice Network that allows you to search for optometrists, dentists and physiotherapists that have agreed to provide nib members quality healthcare at a lower rate.

If you’ve got Amazon Alexa, you can use the nib Skill to find healthcare providers in your area, get daily health tips and answer your biggest health insurance questions. It’s as easy as saying ‘Alexa, ask nib…’ Visit our dedicated page to find out more about the nib Skill available on Alexa.

1Subject to waiting periods, annual limits and other conditions
2The ability to claim 100% back on glasses or contact lenses from nib is dependent on your nib product, waiting periods, available annual limits and the availability of your particular prescription. 100% back on contact lenses is limited to selected contact lenses and a minimum of 4 boxes. Check your cover by calling 13 14 63 or visit nib Online Services.