Much to the apparent discomfort of screenwriters, modern medicine is a team sport. Writers naturally want [[TheMainCharactersDoEverything their protagonists to perform all of the interesting medical work that week's cases will allow]], but this understandable desire flies in the face of a reality in which a dozen different specialists may divide the tasks necessary to care for a patient. The same doctors will not likely care for a pregnant patient and her unstable newborn; surgeons are rarely seen in the Emergency Department unless called (and sometimes, as many a cynical ED doctor has been known to remark, not even then). The bottom line is that board certification in a specialty takes many years of work, meaning that the overwhelming majority of doctors have one, or rarely two, specialties. And in the large, modern medical centers where television dramas are typically set, specialists are expected to be consulted in the matters in which their expertise lies.

As a side note, the principle of specialization goes back to ancient Greece. The Hippocratic Oath forbids doctors from practicing surgery (or, more specifically, removing bladder, kidney and gall stones, the only real surgery that existed at the time), telling them to withdraw in favor of surgeons.

The title of this page is often TruthInTelevision. Surgeons and family practitioners may indeed be called upon to perform autopsies in smaller communities, especially on patients who died of natural causes, accident, or suicide. In many smaller jurisdictions there is no full-time forensic pathologist: suspicious cases may be sent to the big city (or even out of country - the Ontario medical examiner's office earns a lot of money performing autopsies for Caribbean police forces), but the drunk who wraps his car around a tree might instead be autopsied by the local general practitioner.

A subtrope of EconomyCast. Related to CompositeCharacter, OmnidisciplinaryScientist, and NewPowersAsThePlotDemands. When this trope is taken to ludicrous extremes, it becomes OpenHeartDentistry.


[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Doctor Mid-Nite of the ComicBook/JusticeSocietyOfAmerica is frequently portrayed as being the only actual physician in the DC superhero community, and as such he did everything from fix broken limbs to doing the autopsy on Sue Dibny in ''ComicBook/IdentityCrisis''.
* Similarly, because ComicBook/TheMightyThor has Dr. Donald Blake as his alternate identity (sometimes), Blake is called in to do all sorts of medical things, including rebuilding IronMan's mind and being the general physician for Broxton.

* Lampshaded repeatedly in the ''Literature/DresdenFiles'': Waldo Butters, Harry's go-to person for medical emergencies, is a ''mortician'' who in multiple books explicitly points out that he wasn't trained for this and the patient in question would really be better off in a proper hospital. He'll grudgingly accept when this isn't practical for reasons of secrecy or on account of a wizard patient's WalkingTechbane status, and he actually ends up doing pretty good work in spite of his protests, but happy about it he's not.
** He's a medical examiner who works on corpses because he can't stand to see people in pain. He's a coroner without the professional attachment needed to be a true medic. That's a little different than being a mortician.
* In ''Literature/DeathStar'', [[ResignationsNotAccepted conscripted]] surgeon Uli Divini is called on to perform routine checkups. He's not happy about it - [[ImADoctorNotAPlaceholder he's a surgeon, not an internal meds doctor]]! -- but he's fully capable.
* ''Literature/PocketInTheSea'':
** Jensen does autopsies and even dentistry. This is justified by the fact that he's the CMO on a Submarine of 80 men -- he has to be able to do it all.
** Later in the book he appears to take over as a recovery nurse as well. However, he's shown to be overprotective of the men he views as 'his' so he may have pushed the actual recovery nurse out of the picture.

* Most doctors on the various incarnations of ''Franchise/StarTrek'' have this going on. You'd think the position of Chief Medical Officer on a massive, multispecies starship would be a largely administrative job that mostly involved delegating tasks to various specialists. Instead, [=CMOs=] in Starfleet usually seem to personally handle every possible medical complaint, from critical surgeries on members of obscure species right down to minor injuries, stress headaches and childbirths.
** It's justified, however, in the case of the Emergency Medical Hologram from ''[[Series/StarTrekVoyager Voyager]]''; he's only used when there's no other medical staff available, and as an artificial intelligence, he is stated to be programmed with all the Federation's medical knowledge. Also, ''Voyager'' is a pretty small ship by Starfleet standards, with a crew complement of just a hundred and fifty even before the whole "trapped in the Delta Quadrant" incident, so it's not unreasonable that they'd only have one doctor and a couple of nurses. Notably, when [[AcePilot Tom Paris]] ends up being drafted in as a substitute nurse it's at least given an off-hand mention that he's going through the appropriate training classes in accordance with Starfleet regulations.
** It ''might'' also be considered justified for Bashir from [[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine DS9]], who was genetically engineered to be super-intelligent, although it's not clear whether he's ''that'' smart. On the other hand, the fact that he's genetically engineered is supposed to be a closely kept secret...
** A reason for that behavior might be that the Chief Medical Officer is the most experienced or the most trained member of the team. Being the [=CMO=] might mean being on-call 24/7, even with other specialists to handle diseases and minor issues. Plus, in the original Star Trek [=McCoy=] was one of two named doctors and several nurses - perhaps the chief medical officer is the doctor in charge over lab techs, interns, residents, nurses, and other medical staff.
** ALL the ''StarTrek'' series have a lengthy entry under TheMainCharactersDoEverything, but it's especially bad with the doctors: there is the chief medical officer and (in three out of five series) the nurse. Others are occasionally said to exist, or even be a ''once''-seen guest star in a show that goes on ''years,'' but in practice, the overwhelming majority of the time, a ''StarTrek'' setting will appear to have a medical staff of two. From any and all injuries to mysterious never-before-seen illnesses that threaten to kill the whole ship to figuring out how to undo possession/brainwashing, to, yes, autopsies, one person does it all and ''maybe'' has ''one'' other to hand them tools. Surgeons can do autopsies if they want, and then turn around and whip up the MagicAntidote to ThePlague.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'': Dr. Franklin was hired specifically because he's good at nearly everything instead of having a narrow specialty, and he's stated to have a large support staff and do a lot of delegating. This gets {{Deconstructed}} eventually when it's shown he takes on more than his fair share of the workload, and it leads to him [[spoiler: becoming addicted to stims]].
* Numerous episodes of ''Series/GreysAnatomy'' have general surgeons sent to work shifts in "the Pit" [the ED], although they occasionally call in specialists for help. ''Very slightly'' justified by these being interns who allegedly mostly do diagnostics and sutures, but still... Grey's plays this trope so straight that you often wonder if there are non-surgeon doctors in that hospital. To the point where the Chief of Surgery is the boss of the entire hospital and the board only deals with problems relating to the surgical department. Seattle Grace Mercy West Grey Sloan Memorial has also never had an ER doctor or an internal medicine specialist on staff since surgeons do all that work. One might wonder how small the hospital really is since it seems to have only one attending per specialty and each doctor only deals with one patient at a time, often for several days.
* ''Series/{{House}}'':
** In many episodes, the protagonists (non-surgeons all) are shown performing invasive surgical procedures (for example, a brain biopsy). They also all seem to be radiologists, phlebotomists and lab techs. (While all of these things might be done by ordinary doctors in RealLife occasionally, that's only when there's no specialist available. There's rarely any reason that would be the case on ''House''.) On at least one occasion in season six, Foreman did an autopsy as well. In the later seasons, Chase sticks to surgery and Cameron sticks to the ER...which is still problematic, actually: Chase performs a ridiculously wide variety of surgeries, and Cameron's specialty is immunology, not emergency medicine. Even the line between medicine and psychology is not safe. In the episode "One Day, One Room" House asks members of his team for advice on how to deal with a rape victim. Instead of, you know, asking an actual ''therapist'' about that.
** Averted in one episode when a disease is striking newborns. The couple calls the obstetrician who delivered the baby to come look; he informs them that he'll do it this time, but next time they need to call the pediatrician, as an obstetrician specializes in pregnancy and delivery. Some obstetricians also practice pediatrics, but most obstetricians who have a second specialty also practice gynecology (for reasons which should be obvious).
* ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'' tends to have a good track record with this one. As the series progresses, the characters all choose their specializations and then tend to stick to them. This is especially true for the surgery/medical split. It's made quite clear that J.D., Elliot, and Cox couldn't perform surgery if their lives depended on it and Turk (as shown in one episode where he is temporarily turfed to medical as a resident after breaking his wrist) has (comparatively) very little knowledge of medical conditions and procedures.
** Not only that, but the one time we DO see a character switch specialties, it's [[ButtMonkey Doug Murphy]], a known [[ComicallyIneptHealing patient-killer]] who switches over to morgue work because he has killed [[RunningGag so many patients]] in so many ways that [[AwesomeByAnalysis he can instantly determine how other doctors screwed up from personal experience]]
* At one point on ''Series/{{NCIS}}'', the Forensic Examiner, Ducky, does surgery...''on a dog''. In this case the dog's life hung in the balance and wouldn't have survived if they'd taken the time to find an actual vet, and the dog ended up solving the mystery for them. Also, Ducky ''assisted'' his assistant Jimmy Palmer, who did spend time working in a vet and knew the basic principles of dog surgery. Ducky had also been a surgeon earlier in his career.
* Justified in ''Series/{{Mash}}''. They try to call in experts whenever possible, but that obviously doesn't always work, what with being located within spitting distance of the Korean front. This leads to surgeons doubling as vets, psychiatrists performing surgery, priests performing tracheotomies, and once the non-medical population of the unit muddling their way through nursing duties when the women were evacuated.
** In one instance when the hospital is short on surgeons, psychiatrist Sydney Freidman happens to be on base and is called into the operating room. As he points out, "The last surgery I performed was lancing a boil on my kid's tuchus."
* ''Series/BodyOfProof'', a neurosurgeon becomes a pathologist practically overnight.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'': Simon Tam trained to be a trauma surgeon. However, in an early episode, he makes it clear he's used to handling dead bodies and in a later episode states he can perform autopsies. As the only medically trained professional on ''Serenity'', he has to perform ad hoc medicine by circumstance which gave the writers an excuse to give him any medical skills the plot demanded. [[JustifiedTrope Somewhat justified]] in that he's "Gifted" and can thus be expected to pick up things quickly, especially in medical skills.
* ''Series/CrossingJordan'':
** Inverted when coroner Doctor Macy is almost forced into performing a sick surgical procedure on a captive boy by a psycho, despite vehemently claiming he can't do it, at least not well.
** Played straight in another episode when two of the coroners had to fix a punctured lung in the autopsy room on a teenage girl. Justified as there was a massive riot going on in Boston at the time, and even if the ambulance crew was able to get to the ME office it would be far too late.
* Scully from ''Series/TheXFiles''. Ironically, her specialty ''is'' autopsy, but she does a lot of other medical areas when the plot demands so.
* Averted in ''Serries/{{CSI NY}}''. Hawkes was a doctor/surgeon, but he later became a trained pathologist,making him qualified to do autopsies. (Although after his departure to the field, Sid Hammerbeck handled them.)
* Averted on regular ''Series/{{CSI}}'' with Langston, who often ended up helping Doc Robbins in autopsy. He, too was a pathologist.
* Justified on ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'': Doc Cottle is perhaps the last doctor in the universe until we learn there's also a neurologist in the fleet late in Season 4.
* A favorite SoapOpera trope, where doctors are seen to be doing just about everything. An especially bad example on ''Series/OneLifeToLive'', where throughout his time on the show, Dr. Larry Wolek was seen practicing as as an internist, a cardiologist, an ob/gyn, a pediatrician, a neonatologist, an oncologist, and yes, a coroner.
* This has been mostly averted on ''Series/GeneralHospital'', where the doctors' specialties have been specified--cardiology, internal medicine, pediatrics, neurosurgery--and stuck with. That said, there have still been some slip-ups--the legendary Steve Hardy was seen practicing various types of medicine, and despite the fact that most nurses specialize as well, they too are seen doing various things as well.
* ''Series/{{ER}}'' of all shows fell victim to this. One of its signature episodes, "Love's Labor Lost" had ER residents Mark and Susan grossly mishandling a routine delivery (possibly deconstructing this trope, as it's possible that the very reason they screwed up was because they didn't have the necessary ob/gyn experience). This gets a callback when surgeon Benton panics when a woman goes into labor, "I haven't delivered a baby since medical school!" But even though many surgeons sub-specialize, he and fellow surgeon Elizabeth are seen doing things that range from cardiac surgery to abdominal, to neurosurgery, etc. Additionally, ER chief Kerry had OB/GYN nurse Abby abruptly reassigned to the ER. Aside from the fact that Kerry would have no authority whatsoever to do this, even if this were something Abby wanted--she vehemently objected before being told she had no choice--an OB nurse would have been out of her element in the ER. This is especially glaring in light of the fact that during the show's early years, a major storyline involved the ER nurses being sent to departments that they weren't trained for.
* ''Series/InTheHeatOfTheNight'': The local doctor was frequently seen practicing all types of medicine--in the midst of performing an autopsy on a woman, he mentions having delivered her two children and having been the family doctor. Though this might be justified as (a) given the doctor's age, he probably became a doctor in an era where doctors ''did'' practice all types of medicine, and (b) Sparta is a small town unlikely to be teeming with medical specialists.
* ''Series/{{Hannibal}}'' may have the strangest, as [=CSIs=] who are stated to specialize in latent fingerprints and fiber analysis respectively have not only been seen performing autopsies, but also tracing cell phone calls. They do it all!
* ''Series/{{Elementary}}'' has former surgeon Joan Watson performing autopsies from time to time. First time, it was because Sherlock Holmes attempted an autopsy, was going about it the wrong way, and Joan's exasperation got the better of her and she stepped in. In the later cases, she's performing them of her own accord.
* In ''Series/TheGlades'', Carlos is always at pains to point out that he is the chief medical examiner for the FDLE. However, this does not stop him being posted to a hospital to perform emergency medicine during a hurricane in "A Perfect Storm".
* Copiously and notably averted in ''Miami Medical''. All of the lead characters but the nurse are trauma surgeons -- and ''just'' trauma surgeons, who hand over their patients to the required specialists as necessary. When they need to reduce cranial swelling, they call in a neurosurgeon. When a character gets stabbed in the heart, they call in a cardiology surgeon. And when a foot needs to be reattached, they call in a vascular surgeon. One plotline actually involves an attending specialist stealing a patient from the new resident. Morever, one such specialist is actually dually qualified in both cardio surgery and vascular surgery[[note]]not as much of a stretch as it seems, as the two specialties are very closely related[[/note]]:
-->'''Dr Proctor''': No one's 'both'. Not any more.
-->'''Dr Sable''': Cal-Berkeley and [=UPenn=] may disagree.
* The titular ''Series/DrQuinnMedicineWoman''. Again, this is justified by her (a) being a doctor in an era in which doctors practiced all forms of medicine, and (b) being a rural country doctor where she was the only physician around for miles.
* ''Series/{{Gotham}}'': Dr Leslie Thompkins is first seen as a physician at Arkham Asylum. A few weeks afterwards, she takes up the post of medical examiner. Two very different specialties are involved here.
* Justified when it appears in ''Series/CodeBlack'' -- the overwhelmed, understaffed emergency department frequently doesn't ''have'' any specialists available, particularly in the middle of the titular scenario, when the hospital's resources are overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who need help. As such, Dr. Leanne Rorish and her colleagues will hand off to specialists whenever they can, but when they ''can't'', Rorish will either do it herself, hand it off to someone who ''is'' available and more qualified than her to do it (usually Ethan Willis, an Army trauma surgeon who works in the ER instead of as a surgeon), or improvise something that will keep the patient alive long enough for a specialist to get to them. The show also has [[RealityEnsues reality ensue]] when this trope is brought into play -- namely, having the offending doctor be read the riot act by the higher-ups for doing something outside their specialty.

* Specifically mentioned in one of the ''TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}}'' suplements. Trained pathologists are few and far between in the WeirdWest and the Posse may need to rely on whatever the local FrontierDoctor can tell them about cause of death.

* Averted in ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'' where doctor Nanjo says that he isn't trained in doing autopsies and is only able to state basic things about the murder victims.

* As you might expect from a game called ''VideoGame/ThemeHospital'' your doctors can do everything. Although there is some lip service to the specialists as they will need to learn titles (such as surgeon) but it only takes ~10mins in a classroom to gain these.
* An adaptation of ''Literature/MurderOnTheOrientExpress'' has an interesting variant - [[spoiler: ''Veterinarians'']] Can Do Autopsies if they want. Although this is justified - [[spoiler: Dr Konstantine originally trained to become a doctor of humans but then his family went into hard financial straits. The only way he could finish his training and paying off the debts was by becoming a vet. Note, however, that since he was originally trained to treat humans that his autopsy is still valid.]]
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/TraumaCenter: New Blood''. When the heroes have to do a surgery on a dog...they have no idea how to do it, and all they can do is INCREDIBLY basic stuff.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* This is used in an autopsy scene in ''Literature/{{Twig}}'', with the head of the dissection team identified as a "surgeon" and Lillian, the team medic, providing commentary and speculation much to the surgeon's annoyance.

* Dr. Julius Hibbert on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' is an example of this. Over the show's 20-plus-year history, he has been portrayed as a general practitioner, hospitalist, cardiologist, orthopedic surgeon, neurosurgeon, OB-GYN, pediatrician, radiologist, anesthesiologist, and psychiatrist, amongst other specialties, as well as being proprietor of the local HMO.
** Dr. Nick Riviera also fits this trope. Although since he is ''supposed'' to be a [[BackAlleyDoctor quack doctor]], showing him performing procedures that he is severely unqualified for is usually intentionally PlayedForLaughs.
* Dr. Hartman on ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' is not only a family doctor, he does sex change operations, leg transplants, and plastic surgery among other things.