The 5 Most In-Demand Physicians in 2020
As the manager of student and professional development at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC), Dave Jones enjoys speaking to students about the future of their careers as physicians. We caught up with Jones to learn more about the most in-demand specialties for physicians and what they do.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IN-DEMAND PHYSICIANS?
One of the biggest decisions for any medical student is choosing what type of medicine to practice. Overwhelmingly, students will ask Jones some form of the question: “What are the most in-demand physician specialties?”
With more than 120 options to choose from—from family medicine and emergency medicine to surgical subspecialties—it’s a tough choice. Some key considerations that Jones shares with medical students include identifying physician specialties in demand:
Choose a specialty that has high demand and low supply. As the nation’s population grows and ages, there is an urgent need for more doctors in order to address population health goals. A report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects that the United States will face a shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians by 2033. Among the factors driving the shortage are a growing elderly patient population and retiring doctors.
Follow your passion. While considering the specialties of the most in-demand physicians is important, choosing a specialty is ultimately an emotional decision — you should do what you love and follow your passion, Jones says.
“The reward for the years of hard work and study to become a physician should be that you end up working in a specialty that you love,” says Jones. “Primary care, being a family doctor or specializing in women’s care or caring for the elderly, are some of the most in-demand physician specialties for a lot of our students. They are drawn to medicine because they want to help people and care for patients from birth to death. They want to take a holistic approach of caring for families and people in communities on the front lines.”
After completing AUC’s MD program, 71% of graduates from the 2019-2020 class who secured residencies, secured a residency in a primary care specialty in 2020. Family medicine and internal medicine are among the most in-demand physician specialties, as confirmed by a 2019 Physician Employment report by Doximity. Rounding out the top five most in-demand physician specialties, according to the report, are emergency medicine, psychiatry, and obstetrics and gynecology.
The five most in-demand physicians are especially needed in urban and rural underserved areas, says Jones. He works with students to help them gain an understanding of the different kinds of physician specialties in demand:
1. Primary Care Physicians: These are specialists in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and geriatrics and provide the primary resources — conducting routine physicals, prescribing medicines, treating minor illnesses, managing chronic conditions — for these defined populations and are typically the first point of contact, says Jones.
Primary care physicians are advocates for the patient in coordinating the use of the entire health care system to benefit the patient, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
“I tell students you can’t go wrong specializing in primary care,” says Jones. “You may end up caring for the health of generation in one family. That, our graduates tell us, can be extremely rewarding.”
Family physicians are the most in-demand physicians, followed by internal medicine, according to the Doximity report.
2. Internists: These physicians 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.
3. Emergency Medicine Physicians: These specialists are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of unforeseen illness or injury.
4. Psychiatrists: These physicians diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. They conduct medical laboratory and psychological tests to diagnose and treat patients.
5. Obstetricians and Gynecologists (OB/GYNs): These physicians provide medical care relating to female reproductive systems and diagnose and treat diseases and provide care related to pregnancy and childbirth.
OTHER IN-DEMAND PHYSICIAN SPECIALTIES INCLUDE:
6: Surgeons: These physicians treat disease and injuries through surgery using invasive, non-invasive, and minimally invasive methods. In addition to general surgeons, there are many subspecialty areas including neurology, head and neck surgeons, and cardiothoracic surgeons who treat the heart and chest.
7. Anesthesiologists: These physicians provide preoperative care administering anesthesia and sedation during medical and surgical procedures.
8. Pathologists: These physicians study the causes, nature, and effects of disease, providing doctors with the information needed to treat patients.
9. Radiologists: A radiologist is a patient who uses medical imaging technologies to diagnose and treat diseases.
Ultimately, Jones says while most medical students are passionate about being a doctor because they want a career that helps people, he advises that the next step is for students to carefully explore what life is like on the daily front lines of the different kinds of physician specialties.
“If you thrive on direct, birth-to-grave interactions with patients, family care is a good choice and there are lots of opportunities out there in small communities who need family doctors,” says Jones. “But, if deep down you are more called to trying to figure out the cause behind the patient’s disease, radiology might be a better fit. It’s also important to look into what specialties offer the best opportunities for residency or fellowships.”