Menu Icon Search
Close Search

MEDICAL SPECIALTY SELECTOR

How to Choose a Medical Specialty

Based on the book by Anita D. Taylor

Which specialty is best suited to your interests, abilities, and personality?

SDN and Anita Taylor, author of How to Choose a Medical Specialty, have partnered to provide this online overview of specialities. Learn more about each specialty and take the assessment quiz to find out which specialties best match your values and personality.

Log in to take our quiz or see your results.

Sign In Join SDN
fpo-specialty-book

I really like how she asked physicians in each field what they liked and didn't like about their field...

– Amazon.com User, February 1, 2014

// All Available Specialties //

Allergy and Immunology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Allergists/immunologists diagnose and treat patients who have asthma, allergic and immunologic conditions. The work of clinical allergists is more familiar to the public than the more scientifically oriented activities of the immunologist, but both allergy and immunology are concerned with the human body's reaction to foreign substances, no matter what the practice setting. This is a sub-...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Feedback from others
  • Independence
  • Taking care of people
  • Working with my mind

Anesthesiology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Anesthesiologists are physicians who perform a variety of activities: manage procedures for rendering a patient insensible to pain and emotional stress during surgical, obstetrical, and certain medical procedures; support life functions under the stress of anesthetic and surgical manipulations; clinically manage the patient unconscious from whatever cause; manage problems in pain relief; manage...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Decision making
  • Taking care of people
  • Working with my hands
  • Working with my mind

Colon and Rectal Surgery

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

This specialty was called proctology (derived from the Greek word proktos, meaning anus) until 1961 when the name was changed to colon and rectal surgery to reflect a broader scope of interest. Physicians in this field are defined by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery as surgeons who have demonstrated detailed knowledge and skill in surgery of the intestinal tract, rectum, anal canal,...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Decision making
  • Taking care of people
  • Working with my hands
  • Working with people

Dermatology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Dermatology deals with the medical aspects (and sometimes surgical treatment) of skin disorders and diseases. In addition, dermatologists provide valuable medical therapy and emotional support for many individuals with chronic skin diseases. Number of physicians in specialty - Small, less than 15,000 Competitiveness of Residency - Very high Length of training - three years, plus a first year of...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Independence
  • Sufficient time off
  • Variety
  • Working with people

Emergency Medicine

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

The emergency medicine physician is defined by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEM) as one who is a specialist in breadth, whose training is focused on the acute and the life-threatening aspects of medical care, and who, by nature of his practice, is available when the patient needs him. The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates defines the emergency medicine...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Good income
  • Independence
  • Sufficient time off
  • Variety

Family Medicine

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Formerly called "family practice," family medicine was recognized in 1969 as the twentieth medical specialty and residencies were developed in response to public need for well-trained generalist physicians. The official definition is: "family medicine is the medical specialty which provides continuing, comprehensive health care for the individual and family. It is a specialty in breadth that...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Independence
  • Variety
  • Working with people

Internal Medicine

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

A general internist specializes in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses in adults and is not trained in a subspecialty of internal medicine. The general internist is well trained in the diagnosis of puzzling medical problems, in the ongoing care of complex and chronic illnesses, and in caring for patients with more than one disease. Most general internists provide care for their...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Independence
  • Taking care of people
  • Working with my mind
  • Working with people

Internal Medicine - Cardiology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Cardiologists diagnose and treat defects and diseases of the cardiovascular system, including the heart, blood vessels, and the circulation of blood through the body. Those cardiologists who become interested in full-time subspecialization in cardiology - in areas such as pediatric cardiology, nuclear cardiology, or catheterization - usually practice in university hospitals or large medical...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Decision making
  • Independence
  • Working with my hands
  • Working with my mind
  • Working with people

Internal Medicine - Endocrinology and Metabolism

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Physicians who specialize in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism deal with the diagnosis and treatment of the hormone-producing glandular and metabolic systems. There are three categories: clinical endocrinology, pediatric endocrinology, and reproductive physiology. Number of physicians in specialty - Small, less than 5,000 Competitiveness of Fellowship - Low Length of training - two years...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Independence
  • Taking care of people
  • Variety
  • Working with my mind

Internal Medicine - Gastroenterology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Gastroenterologists deal with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders related to the digestive system.the esophagus, stomach, gall bladder and biliary tract, liver, pancreas, and small and large intestines. Traditionally, a significant part of gastroenterology has involved the evaluation of psychosomatic complaints as they affect the gastrointestinal tract, but the introduction of...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Achievement
  • Good income
  • Independence
  • Working with my hands
  • Working with people

Internal Medicine - Hematology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Hematology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of blood, bone marrow, lymph glands, spleen, and vascular system. Medical oncology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of neoplastic disease. Historically, hematology and oncology were one specialty, sharing areas of interest and activity, such as hematologic malignancies (leukemias and lymphomas). They are combined in most...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Decision making
  • Taking care of people
  • Variety
  • Working with people

Internal Medicine - Infectious Diseases

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Infectious diseases physicians deal with the diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases in outpatient and inpatient settings. Most frequently encountered illnesses are HIV/AIDS and pneumonia. Emerging areas of concern are the growing threat of antibiotic resistance and response to bioterrorism. Traditionally, this specialty has been hospital- or university-based and it is only recently...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Decision making
  • Taking care of people
  • Variety
  • Working with my mind

Internal Medicine - Medical Oncology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Hematology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of blood, bone marrow, lymph glands, spleen, and vascular system. Medical oncology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of neoplastic disease. Historically, hematology and oncology were one specialty, sharing areas of interest and activity, such as hematologic malignancies (leukemias and lymphomas). They are combined in most...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Decision making
  • Independence
  • Taking care of people
  • Working with people

Internal Medicine - Nephrology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Nephrology is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of renal (kidney) and urinary system disease. Nephrologists treat fluid, electrolyte, acid-base, and mineral imbalances; glomerulonephritis; hypertension; and polycystic kidney. They provide hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis treatment and are involved in the management of kidney transplant recipients after transplantation. Number of...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Independence
  • Taking care of people
  • Variety
  • Working with my mind

Internal Medicine - Pulmonary Disease

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Pulmonologists, or chest physicians as they are sometimes called, diagnose and treat diseases of the respiratory system. A critical care physician diagnoses, treats and supports patients with multiple organ dysfunction. This specialist may have administrative responsibilities for intensive care units and may also facilitate and coordinate patient care among the primary physician, the critical...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Decision making
  • Taking care of people
  • Variety
  • Working with my mind

Internal Medicine - Rheumatology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Rheumatologists diagnose and treat acute and chronic rheumatic diseases and musculoskeletal problems, primarily in outpatient settings. Number of physicians in specialty - Very small, less than 5,000 Competitiveness of Fellowship - Low Length of training - Two years after initial 3 year residency in internal medicine ... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Decision making
  • Taking care of people
  • Variety
  • Working with my mind

Interventional Radiology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

In 2012 the American Board of Medical Specialties approved interventional radiology (IR), also known as vascular and interventional radiology or surgical radiology, as the fourth primary medical specialty of the American Board of Radiology. A past president of the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) describes "the elevation of IR to a 'specialty' level with its own distinct residency...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Decision making
  • Good income
  • Working with my hands
  • Working with my mind

Medical Genetics

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Approved as a bona fide clinical specialty and the twenty-fourth member of the American Board of Medical Specialties in 1993, medical genetics has evolved over the past 40 years from a basic science to a clinical discipline that many believe will become a factor in most patient encounters. It is predicted that a "revolution in health care delivery" will result in physicians' increasingly using...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Taking care of people
  • Working with my mind
  • Working with people

Neurological Surgery

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Neurological surgery is concerned with the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems and involves diagnosis and, frequently, surgical treatment. Although considered to be a subspecialty of surgery, the traditional base of neurological surgery is in the laboratory. Early practitioners are described as having been not only .technically skillful surgeons, but also, in many respects,...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Independence
  • Variety
  • Working with my hands

Neurology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

The neurologist is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system - the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, and certain muscle disorders and pain problems, especially headache. Many neurologic disorders require long-term care, and some are untreatable. There are close ties between the specialties of neurology and psychiatry - board certification is offered by...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Good income
  • Independence
  • Working with my mind
  • Working with people

Nuclear Medicine

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Nuclear medicine physicians use radioactive molecules and atoms in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. They have a technological orientation and their work involves supervising and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory procedures and engaging in research. Number of physicians in specialty - Very small, less than 5,000 Competitiveness of residency - Low Years of training required - Three...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Achievement
  • Creativity
  • Good income
  • Independence
  • Variety

Obstetrics and Gynecology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Two separate fields, obstetrics and gynecology, are combined to provide health care to women. The obstetrician cares for the woman before, during, and after her pregnancy; the gynecologist cares for disorders and diseases of the female reproductive tract. Physicians in this specialty combine both areas in their practices or concentrate on one; the training will encompass both obstetrics and...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Taking care of people
  • Variety
  • Working with my hands
  • Working with people

Ophthalmology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Ophthalmology is concerned with the structure, function, diseases, and abnormalities of the eye. Patients of all ages, from newborn to geriatric, may seek ophthalmologic care. Although ophthalmology is classified as a surgical specialty, ophthalmologists spend less time in the operating room than most surgeons. Number of physicians in specialty - Small, less than 20,000 Competiveness of...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Achievement
  • Good income
  • Independence
  • Taking care of people
  • Working with my hands

Orthopaedic Surgery

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Physicians in this specialty, seek to restore normal function to a deformed, diseased, or injured part of the musculoskeletal system utilizing medical, surgical, and physical rehabilitation methods. Number of physicians in specialty - Medium, less than 30,000 Competiveness of residency - Very high Years of training required - Five years, including a first year in a general surgery...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Decision making
  • Independence
  • Taking care of people

Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Otolaryngology is no longer confined to the areas of ear, nose, and throat. It has become a comprehensive discipline of medicine and surgery of the head and neck region. Number of physicians in specialty - Small, less than 15,000 Competitiveness of residency - Very high Years of training required - Five years, following a first year with at least nine months of surgery, emergency, critical care...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Decision making
  • Working with my hands
  • Working with people

Pathology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Pathology is the branch of medicine concerned with the cause, manifestation, diagnosis, and outcome of disease. The pathologist provides the morphologic and laboratory analysis to assist in patient care. Although many pathologists have traditionally practiced both anatomic and clinical pathology, increasingly the trend is to limit one's practice to one or the other area of investigation. An...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Decision making
  • Good income
  • Independence
  • Variety
  • Working with my mind

Pediatrics

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Pediatrics is concerned with the physical, mental, and emotional health of young people from birth to adolescence. In addition to providing preventive health care, pediatricians are trained to handle acute and chronic illness. However, more and more, children requiring hospitalization are being referred to physicians who have had pediatric subspecialty training. Number of physicians in specialty...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Sufficient time off
  • Variety
  • Working with people

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

The physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation - the "physiatrist" - is interested in the diagnosis of the disease processes underlying the disability, but focus is on the functional disability itself - that is, evaluation of the patient's level of functioning, design of a treatment program, and management of the rehabilitation team which carries out the program. Number of...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Taking care of people
  • Variety
  • Working with people

Plastic Surgery

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Most plastic surgeons do not concentrate solely on cosmetic surgery. Their work involves the repair and correction of congenital defects, trauma surgery, and cancer reconstruction. In many cases the aim is to restore physical function as well as physical appearance. Number of physicians in specialty - Small, less than 10,000 Competitiveness of residency . Low Years of training required - There...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Independence
  • Working with my hands
  • Working with people

Preventative Medicine - Aerospace

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

The three major specialty areas in preventive health are aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, and public health and general preventive medicine. Since April 2010 there has been a new educational pathway to Board Certification in this specialty called the Complementary Pathway. It is designed for the mid-career physician who wishes to make a career change into the practice of preventive...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Achievement
  • Creativity
  • Variety
  • Working with people

Preventative Medicine - Occupational

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

The three major specialty areas in preventive health are aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, and public health and general preventive medicine. Since April 2010 there has been a new educational pathway to Board Certification in this specialty called the Complementary Pathway. It is designed for the mid-career physician who wishes to make a career change into the practice of preventive...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Decision making
  • Variety
  • Working with people

Preventative Medicine - Public Health and General

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

The three major specialty areas in preventive health are aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, and public health and general preventive medicine. Since April 2010 there has been a new educational pathway to Board Certification in this specialty called the Complementary Pathway. It is designed for the mid-career physician who wishes to make a career change into the practice of preventive...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Decision making
  • Variety
  • Working with my mind
  • Working with people

Psychiatry

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Psychiatrists are concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders. Although many psychiatrists are generalists, there are different models of treatment - for example, individual or group therapy, a behavioral or psychoanalytic focus. Number of physicians in specialty - Medium, less than 50,000 Competitiveness of residency - Low Years of training required...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Achievement
  • Independence
  • Working with my mind
  • Working with people

Radiology - Diagnostic

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

The diagnostic radiologist is concerned with the application of x-rays and other forms of radiant energy to diagnose and treat disease. The increase in technological developments has expanded the role of the radiologist to include interventional radiology procedures. Number of physicians in specialty - Medium, less than 30,000 Competitiveness of residency - High Years of training required - Five...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Independence
  • Sufficient time off
  • Working with my mind

Radiology - Radiation Oncology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

The radiation oncologist focuses on both the curative and the palliative treatment of the person with cancer. They use a variety of treatment modalities such as x-rays, radium, and radionuclides. Number of physicians in specialty - Very small, less than 5,000 Competitiveness of residency - Very high Years of training required - Five years including a first year of training in a categorical...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Decision making
  • Sufficient time off
  • Taking care of people
  • Working with my hands

Surgery - General

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

General surgery is the basic discipline from which other surgical subspecialties have emerged. Surgery, by definition, deals with diseases or injuries that require operative procedures. Number of physicians in specialty - Medium, less than 30,000 Competitiveness of residency - High Years of training required - Five years Subspecialties/ Fellowships . One or two year fellowship training is...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Achievement
  • Decision making
  • Independence
  • Taking care of people
  • Variety

Thoracic Surgery

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Thoracic surgery (also called "cardiothoracic surgery" and "cardiovascular and thoracic surgery") deals with surgery of the chest cavity containing the heart, lungs, and esophagus. Number of physicians in specialty - Very small, less than 5,000 Competitiveness of Fellowship - Very high Years of training required - Two years after successful completion of a five year general surgery residency. ...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Creativity
  • Decision making
  • Working with my hands
  • Working with my mind

Urology

ABOUT THE SPECIALTY

Urology is a surgical subspecialty concerned with the medical and surgical treatment of disorders and diseases of the female urinary tract and male urogenital tract. Urologists are involved with problems of the kidney, ureters, bladder, prostate, urethra, and male genital structure. Often the urologist and nephrologist coordinate their efforts in treating patients with kidney disease. Number of...... MORE >

Specialists Value
  • Achievement
  • Independence
  • Variety
  • Working with people

// Share //