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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

What are the different types of medical specialists called in Spanish?

You may already know that the Spanish word for doctor is either ‘médico’ or ‘doctor/a’, that a nurse is an ‘enfermero/a’ and that a receptionist is a ‘recepcionista’, but what about all the other medical specialists?

medical professions spanish
Do you know what a podólogo or logopeda mean in Spanish? (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP)

Because of their common Latin root in both English and Spanish, most medical titles can be easily recognised by anglophones learning Spanish. Not all of them, however.

Here we’ll go over some of the medical specialties and how to call them in Spanish. 

A couple of pointers before we start. Remember that the syllable that has the accent on the vowel is the one you stress in Spanish. 

Also, in Spanish a “g” followed by an a,o or u is pronounced like “gh” sound like ghost or get, but a “g” followed by e or i is pronounced with a “ha” sound like hat or head.

And as most Spanish professions differentiate the person’s gender, the masculine article is “el” and the noun usually ends in “o” and the feminine article is “la” and most often ends in “a”.  There are some exceptions such as médico (doctor) where the article changes but the noun always ends in “o”.

Here is a list of the majority of medical specialists and helath professionals and how they are referred to in Spain.

Surgeon: el cirujano, la cirujana. Depending on the type of surgeon it can be cirujano cardiovascular, pediátrico etc or in the case of a neurosurgeon it’s a neurocirujano/a. 

Anaethetist (anaesthesia): el anestesiólogo, la anestesióloga

  

Cardiologist (heart): el cardiólogo, la cardióloga 

Dental surgeon: el odontólogo/la odontóloga

Dermatologist (skin): el dermatólogo,la dermatóloga 

Endocrinologist (hormones): el endocrinólogo, la endocrinóloga

Gastroenterologist (stomach): el gastroenterólogo, la gastroenterólogo. Most people instead el/la médico digestivo

Gynaecologist (female reproductive system): el ginecólogo, la ginecóloga

Occupational therapist: el terapeuta ocupacional, la terapeuta ocupacional 

Ophthalmologist (eyes): el oftalmólogo, la oftalmóloga 

Oncologist (cancer): el oncólogo , la oncóloga 

Orthopaedist (musculoskeletal): el ortopedista, la ortopedista 

Orthopaedic surgeon: el traumatólogo,la traumatóloga

Otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat – ENT): el otorrinolaringólogo , la otorrinolaringóloga. Often shortened to el/la otorrino.

Paediatrician (children): el pediatra, la pediatra

Podiatrist or chiropodist (feet): el podólogo, la podóloga

Physiotherapist (injury, illness or disability therapy): el fisioterapeuta, la fisioterapeuta. Often shortened to el/la fisio.

 

Psychologist (mental health): el (p)sicólogo, la (p)sicóloga 

Psychiatrist (mental health): el psiquiatra  , la psiquiatra 

Pulmonologist (lungs): el neumólogo, la neumóloga

Radiologist (X-rays, MRI, CT): el radiólogo, la radióloga 

Rheumatologist (arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones): el reumatólogo  , la reumatóloga

Speech therapist: el logopeda, la logopeda

Urologist (urinary system): el urólogo, la uróloga

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SPANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Spanish Expression of the Day: ‘No dar un palo al agua’

What do a stick and water have to do with working in Spain?

Spanish Expression of the Day: 'No dar un palo al agua'

One of the main clichés foreigners perpetuate about Spaniards is that they’re work-shy hedonists with a “mañana mañana” attitude towards any sort of responsibility.

Even among Spaniards themselves, there are regional stereotypes about southerners that claim they’re all vagos (lazy), especially those from Andalusia and the Canary Islands. 

Studies have actually shown that people in Spain work longer hours than Germans and other northern Europeans, so it’s understandably frustrating for many Spaniards to hear the same stereotypes regurgitated again and again.

Without a doubt, there are idle people in Spain, just like anywhere else in the world. So what’s one way to describe this laziness in Spanish?

No dar un palo al agua, which in its literal sense means to ‘not hit the water with a stick’. 

In fact, it’s the equivalent of saying in English ‘to not lift a finger’, ‘to never do an ounce of work’ or ‘to do sweet FA’ (FA standing for ‘fuck all’, or Fanny Adams, but that’s another story). 

Even though we initially thought that this Spanish metaphor drew a parallel between not being able to do something as simple as throwing a stick in a lake or a river, the origins of this saying are actually from the world of sailing.

Sailors who weren’t willing to put in the work and let everyone else do the rowing were called out for loafing around and told ¡No das un palo al agua!, in the sense that their oars (the palo or stick refers to the oar) weren’t even touching the water. 

So the next time you want to describe the fact that someone is not pulling their weight, remember this interesting Spanish expression. You can also use the shortened version – ‘no dar ni palo’.

It’s an expression which is widely used in all manner of settings (including formal ones), so you don’t have to worry about offending anyone, apart from perhaps the person who you are describing as working very little or not at all. 

Examples:

Pedro no da un palo al agua. Se pasa el día en las redes sociales aunque haya un montón de trabajo que hacer.

Pedro doesn’t lift a finger, he spends his days on social media even if there’s loads of work to do.

¡No das un palo al agua! ¡Eres un holgazán! ¡A ver si te pones las pilas!

You do sweet FA! You’re a right lazybones! Get your arse in gear!

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