General practitioners
General practitioner (GP), or family doctor is a physician specialised in 'General Practice'. This physician* doesn’t work in a hospital but in "primary health care" and may also carry out home visits. As a rule, they are the first contact for anyone faced with a health issue, in the broadest sense of the term. They keep an overview of patients' general state of health over an extended period of time and act as coordinators of their patients' healthcare needs.

Ninety per cent of the problems patients visit their GP about are resolved by GPs themselves. The remaining ten per cent are referred to another specialist physician* or healthcare provider.

Physicians in Belgium are authorised to practise medicine if their diploma has been stamped by the competent authorities and if they are registered on the list of the Order of Physicians.

For further information and the legislation governing this profession, please click here 

Specialist physicians
A patient is usually seen by a specialist physician by appointment. An appointment can be obtained either following a referral from their GP or an individual healthcare provider or by establishing a direct contact. Specialist physicians may conduct services in both their own private practice or in the recognised healthcare institution where they‘re contracted to. Specialist physicians don’t carry out home visits.

Specific laws lay down the special recognition criteria for specialist physicians, traineeship supervisors and traineeships in the various specialties (link  [French] /  (link  [Dutch]).

The recognition of any medical specialty is ratified by Royal Decree and then published in the Belgian Official Gazette (Belgisch Staatsblad). In Belgium, physicians who qualified in a specific recognised medical specialty bear the title of medical specialist in the specialty in question.

Specialties recognised in Belgium:
Anaesthesia - Occupational medicine - Cardiology - Dermato-Venereology - Endocrino-Diabetology - Functional and professional rehabilitation of disabled persons - Physical medicine - Gastroenterology - Geriatrics - Gynaecology and Obstetrics - Surgery - Intensive care - Internal medicine - Clinical biology - Oro-maxillo-facial surgery - Nephrology - Neurosurgery - Neurology - Neuropsychiatry - Nuclear medicine - In vitro nuclear medicine - Ophthalmology - Orthopaedics - Otolaryngology - Pathological anatomy - Paediatrics - Paediatric neurology - Plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery - Pneumology - Psychiatry - Radiotherapy-Oncology - Rheumatology - Rehabilitation - X-ray diagnosis - Stomatology - Emergency medicine - Urology.

For further information about the legislation governing these professions, please click here

* see Glossary