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Easy to see if your friend's expert advice was right; find a few markets where 'specialist' is part of a fairly common keyphrase that people compete for and analyse the SERPs and link profiles.
My feeling on this is that this would not be an anchor text issue because Google can determine context.
You're right. I would add that it could be problematic if the words are in the URL. But I'm fairly confident it won't be an issue if it's merely text on the page. But I'd like to emphazie the word "could" because I don't think this happens frequently, and I have a feeling the engineers have thought about this and can take into account surrounding text to understand the difference between for example, a therapist and the alternative.