20 Types of Physicians in High Demand


07.17.2019

Advancements in modern medicine have greatly extended life expectancy in the past century. In the year 1900, the average life expectancy was 47. Fast-forward to 2000, and that number increased to 76. Today the average American can expect to live to be 78.8 years old.

And as the population ages, more health care is inevitably required. Add to that the overall population growth, and it’s easy to see why health care professionals are in high demand.

In fact, the health care field is predicted to add more jobs to the economy than any other industry in the coming decade. And at the helm are the physicians caring for an array of patients and conditions. Doctors are needed, and the demand for physicians will grow faster than the supply, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

With physician retirements and an aging population putting more strain on health care, doctors will be needed more than ever. But certain types of physicians are actually expected to face shortages.

Keep reading to learn more about the types of physicians that are in high demand. See if any of these areas of medicine spark an interest in you.

20 Types of physicians needed in the US

There are many other types of doctors, but this list will give you a taste of which ones are among the most needed.

1. Family physicians

What they do: Family physicians diagnose and treat diseases and injuries within the general population. They are the first point of contact for patients in the health care system and may refer patients to specialists when needed.

Earning potential: The median annual family physician salary in 2018 was $201,100.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026. Primary care physicians, including family physicians, are facing a shortage. The medical field in the US will be short between 21,100 and 55,200 primary care physicians by 2032, as predicted by the AAMC.

2. Internists

What they do: Internists are physicians who diagnose and perform non-surgical treatment of diseases and injuries of internal organ systems, such as heart disease or diabetes. Internists treat a wide range of diseases of the internal organs and provide care mainly for adults.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for internists in 2018 was $194,500.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 15 percent or higher through 2026.

3. Pediatricians

What they do: Pediatricians are physicians who diagnose and treat a wide array of diseases and injuries in children, adolescents, and babies. Pediatricians practice preventive medicine and also diagnose common childhood diseases, such as asthma, allergies, and croup. They may work as a primary care provider or narrow their scope of practice in a sub-specialty.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for pediatricians in 2018 was $170,560.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 15 percent or higher through 2026.

4. Psychiatrists

What they do: Psychiatrists are physicians who diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. They conduct medical laboratory and psychological tests to diagnose and treat patients.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for psychiatrists in 2018 was $208,000 and higher.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent percent through 2026. Studies suggest that a psychiatric shortage will be felt in the medical community in the coming years as more reach retirement and smaller numbers of medical school graduates choose psychiatry residencies.

5. Obstetricians and gynecologists

What they do: Obstetricians and Gynecologists (OB/GYNs) provide medical care relating to female reproductive systems. These types of physicians diagnose and treat diseases and also provide care related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for OB/GYNs in 2018 was $208,000 and higher.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing much faster than average at 15 percent or higher through 2026.

6. Surgeons

What they do: Surgeons are physicians who treat diseases and injuries through surgery using invasive, non-invasive, and minimally invasive methods. While some practice general surgery, others specialize in a particular area, such as neurological surgery, thoracic surgery, or vascular surgery.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for surgeons in 2018 was $208,000 and higher. Bear in mind that there are different types of surgeons, and salary levels can fluctuate depending on their subspecialty.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing much faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026. Studies also suggest that a surgeon shortage is on the horizon in health care. The AAMC predicts a surgeon shortage of 14,300 to 23,400 surgeons by 2032.

7. Anesthesiologists

What they do: Anesthesiologists are physicians who administer anesthetics and sedation during medical and surgical procedures. They also maintain life support and airway management.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for anesthesiologists in 2018 was $208,000 and higher.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing much faster than average at 15 percent or higher through 2026.

8. Pathologists

What they do: Pathologists are physicians who study the development of diseases. They diagnose diseases using laboratory techniques and also perform autopsies. Pathologists examine tissues, cells, and body fluids and apply biologic, chemical, and physical sciences within a laboratory. They may examine tissues to determine whether an organ transplant is needed, or they may examine the blood of a pregnant woman to ensure the health of the fetus.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for the group of physicians including pathologists in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

9. Neurologists

What they do: Neurologists are physicians who diagnose and treat diseases of the nervous system, brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Much of neurology is consultative, as neurologists treat patients suffering from strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, seizure disorders, and spinal cord disorders.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for the group of physicians including neurologists in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

10. Allergists and immunologists

What they do: Allergists and immunologists diagnose and treat diseases pertaining to allergies and the immune system. These types of physicians perform allergy tests and develop individualized treatment plans for their patients. They may help patients suffering from common diseases such as asthma, food and drug allergies, immune deficiencies, and diseases of the lung.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for the group of physicians including allergists and immunologists in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

11. Hospitalists

What they do: Hospitalists are physicians who diagnose and treat hospital inpatients. They may work with patients in medical wards such as the intensive care unit, acute care units, or emergency rooms. They admit patients and provide continuous care throughout their hospital stay.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for the group of physicians including hospitalists in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

12. Urologists

What they do: Urologists are physicians who provide care for the male and female urinary tract, including kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra, as well as the male sex organs. They diagnose and treat both benign and malignant medical disorders.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for the group of physicians including urologists in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

13. Ophthalmologists

What they do: Ophthalmologists are physicians who diagnose and treat diseases of the eyes. They correct vision problems, such as strabismus or diabetic retinopathy. They may also perform surgeries on cataracts or corneal transplantation.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for the group of physicians including ophthalmologists in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

14. Nuclear medicine physicians

What they do: Nuclear medicine physicians diagnose and treat diseases through the use of radioactive materials and techniques. They examine and interpret radiologic imagery and may prescribe radionuclides to individual patients.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for the group of physicians including nuclear medicine physicians in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

15. Dermatologists

What they do: Dermatologists are physicians who diagnose and treat disorders of the skin, hair, nails, and adjacent mucous membranes. They perform skin biopsies and dermatological surgical procedures. They may diagnose conditions such as skin cancer, tumors, inflammatory diseases of the skin, and infectious diseases.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for the group of physicians including dermatologists in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

16. Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians

What they do: Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians diagnose and treat disorders requiring physiotherapy to provide rehabilitation. They commonly work with conditions such as spinal cord or brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and musculoskeletal and pediatric rehabilitation in order to improve patient quality of life.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for the group of physicians including physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

17. Preventive medicine physicians

What they do: Preventive medicine physicians work to promote health and wellness within individuals, specific segments of the population, and the general public. Through preventive medicine, they seek to reduce the risk of sickness, disability, and death in patients.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for the group of doctors including preventive medicine physicians in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

18. Radiologists

What they do: Radiologists are physicians who diagnose illnesses in patients through the use of x-rays, radioactive substances, sound waves in ultrasounds, or the body’s natural magnetism in MRIs.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for the group of physicians including radiologists in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

19. Sports medicine physicians

What they do: Sports medicine physicians diagnose and treat injuries related to athletics and physical activity, working closely with the musculoskeletal system. They order and interpret diagnostic imaging and supervise the rehabilitation of injured athletes.

Earning potential: What's a typical sports medicine physician salary? It's a little hard to pinpoint. But the median annual salary for the group of doctors including sports medicine physicians in 2018 was $200,890.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

20. Podiatrists

What they do: Podiatrists diagnose and treat conditions of the feet. These types of physicians prescribe medications, corrective devices, physical therapy, or surgery to correct diseases and deformities. They also treat bone, muscle, and joint disorders of the feet and ankles.

Earning potential: The median annual salary for podiatrists in 2018 was $129,550.

Employment opportunities: This position is growing faster than average at 10 – 14 percent through 2026.

The demand is clear

You may have noticed a pattern when browsing through these different types of physicians — they’re all in demand. That’s because the need for health care spans all ages, genders, races, classes, and people from all walks of life. It’s a universal need. And with population growth and the rising health care demands of aging baby boomers, we need doctors of all kinds now more than ever.

Curious which of these types of physicians you might be well-suited for? Check out our infographic to learn more, “What Type of Doctor Should I Be? Finding the Best Specialty for Your Personality.”

*This article was originally published in March 2018. It's since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2019.

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