Top 5 medical specialties in highest demand

Top 5 Medical Specialties In Highest Demand

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What are the medical specialties in highest demand? It’s no secret that healthcare workers are in high demand across the United States. In fact, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports that the US currently has a national physician shortage between 60,000 to 120,000.

Medical specialties in highest demand (top 5)

In this article, we’re going to break down the top five types of physicians that are currently in highest demand. Maybe one of them is a specialty you’re considering.

First, let’s quickly break down why there’s a physician shortage in the first place.

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Factors Affecting Physician Shortage

Like many things in a medical system, there are a lot of factors in play.

Factor #1 Population Growth

As the population grows, there are more physicians that will be required to take care of the people.

Factor #2 Longer Life Span

The population of people over 65 years of age is expected to increase by 45% in the next decade.

Factor #3 Early Physician Retirement

The recent COVID surge led many physicians to retire early. Some of these physicians also experienced burnout during the pandemic.

So now, we have an older and growing population, and even less physicians.

Factor #4 Admission Into Medical Schools

Going through medical school is a very stressful process. There’s a fixed number of medical schools and residency training programs available to future doctors.

The number of new schools and programs that are being established every year are just not able to keep up with the pace and the demand.

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Medical Specialties In Highest Demand

Now that we know some of the key reasons behind the physician shortage, let’s talk about the doctors that are in the most in demand because of this.

Medical specialties in highest demand (internal medicine)

Top 5: Internal Medicine

Internal medicine physicians are trained to manage complex adult diseases. Think about diseases of the heart, kidneys, and lungs.

Internal medicine physicians are often considered the main primary physicians in the hospital or in the outpatient setting as a PCP (Primary Care Physician).

After I finished my internal medicine residency, I took a job as a hospitalist where my main responsibility was to take care of patients in the hospital after they’re admitted and all the way to discharge.

In the field of internal medicine, we definitely experienced a lot of burnout during the COVID pandemic because we were the primary physicians taking care of these really sick patients.

So not only did the field of internal medicine lose some great physicians to other opportunities, but we also have a growing population to deal with as their primary care providers or main hospitalist physicians.

In terms of salary, someone in internal medicine, whether as a primary care physician or working as a hospitalist, can make about $250,000 to $300,000 depending on the area that they’re working in.

Medical specialties in highest demand (cardiology)

Top 4: Cardiology

The next field that is high in demand is the field of cardiology. Cardiologists focus on diagnosis and treating diseases that affect the heart and cardiovascular system.

For example, they manage patients who may have experienced myocardial infarction, another word for heart attack.

With our population getting older and our lifestyles remaining and continue to become more unhealthy, heart disease will continue to plague many patients in the US.

The field of cardiology will always be in demand. And it’s one of the reasons that I’m pursuing it currently as a cardiology fellow.

Depending on the geographic locations as well as the type of practice, the average salary for a cardiologist can be anywhere from $450,000 to $500,000, or more.

Medical specialties in highest demand (obgyn)

Top 3: Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB-GYN)

Next is the field of OB-GYN. OB-GYNs are physicians who have specialized and dedicated their time to women’s health.

They treat various gynecological diseases as well as ensure that women who are pregnant receive the proper healthcare during their deliveries.

OB-GYN physicians see female patients from all ages, so they too are experiencing an increase in the elderly population, and many of their general appointments will deal with common issues such as cervical and breast cancer screenings, which are extremely important.

With the growing population, the field of OB-GYN will always be in demand.

Depending on the type of practice, the OB-GYN salary can be between $330,000 to $350,000, or more.

Medical specialties in highest demand (psychiatry)

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Top 2: Psychiatry

Number two on our list is the field of psychiatry. These physicians specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness and emotional disorders. They also play a role in conditions involving both addiction and recovery.

Even before the COVID pandemic, the United States was in a mental health crisis with 1 in 10 adults reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The mental health crisis, increase in the elderly population, and finally with less stigma around getting help for any mental health problems, the field of psychiatry will definitely continue to see a demand in the future.

Currently, the average salary is about $309,000.

Medical specialties in highest demand (primary care physicians)

Top 1: Primary Care Physicians

The field with the highest demand are primary care physicians. These include family medicine doctors, pediatricians, as well as the internal medicine doctors that are serving as primary care physicians.

Primary care physicians or PCPs work with all ages of patients. They are usually the first line of physicians to see a patient.

These are the physicians that you usually will go to diagnose and treat various illnesses and consult other specialties for more complex issues.

Now, because PCPs serve as a frontline to our healthcare system, it’s no surprise that there’s a major shortage with our growing population and increasing burnout rates as these physicians are unfortunately having to see more and more patients.

Just think about the last time you went to see your doctor and how long it took you to be seen despite the time of your appointment. Often, this is not the fault of the doctors themselves, but of how busy the clinic is in making sure all the patients see the physician.

This is also why there are so many programs in college, medical school, and residency that are used to encourage more future doctors to become PCPs.

Because of the burnout rate and a salary of just $225,000, which is significantly less compared to the other specialties that we talked about, it’s no surprise that being a PCP is less desirable compared to other higher paying specialty with a better lifestyle.

Medical specialties in highest demand (increase in population)
Overall, combining the problem of physician shortage with a growing population, these end up being the most common and highest demand medical specialties currently in the United States.

If you feel like we missed an important medical specialty in this list, go ahead and add it to the comment section down below. Also, let us know if you are considering any of these fields,

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If you enjoyed this article and you are interested to know more about how to become a doctor, then check out these other helpful articles:

As always, thank you so much for joining me on my journey. Hopefully, I was a little help to you on yours.

Until the next one, my friend…

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