Choosing the Right Medical Specialty

Choosing the Right Medical Specialty

Sep 13, 2020 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

Table of Contents

Specializing is an important part of becoming a competent and capable doctor and will surely affect your career. The residency program was designed so that you can undergo training and specialize on your field of interest. Being a resident alone is life changing and one of the biggest decisions that you must make is choosing your specialization.

This article aims to provide you ideas on what specialties you can choose from and what important considerations you must take into account before selecting a medical specialty.

What Medical Specialty You Can Choose From

There are many fields of specialty out there. Here is a list of the major and most common specialties that you can choose from.

Allergy and Immunology

Expect to deal with patients suffering from common diseases such as asthma, food and drug allergies, immune deficiencies, and diseases of the lung. Specialists in this field usually pursue opportunities in research, education, or clinical practice.


This field is focused on pain relief for patients before, during, and after surgery. Subspecialties such as critical care medicine, hospice and palliative care, pain medicine, pediatric anesthesiology, and sleep medicine are available in this branch of medicine.


If you are interested in anything that has to do with skin, hair, nails, and adjacent mucous membranes or diagnosing diseases such as skin cancer, tumors, inflammatory diseases of the skin, and infectious diseases, this is the specialty for you.

Diagnostic Radiology

This field is all about diagnosing illnesses using x-rays, radioactive substances, sound waves in ultrasounds, or the body’s natural magnetism in magnetic resonance images (MRIs).

Emergency Medicine

Specialists in this field provide immediate care to patients in emergency situations.

Family Medicine

This field focuses on integrated care and treating the patient as a whole. Physicians who specialize in family medicine treat patients of all ages.

Internal Medicine

An internist treats diseases of the heart, blood, kidneys, joints, digestive, respiratory, and vascular systems of adolescent, adult, and elderly patients. This is one of the broadest fields in medicine as it includes cardiology, oncology, and others.

Medical Genetics

An expert in this field specializes in hereditary disorders and diagnoses diseases that are caused by genetic defects.


This field is all about the nerves and the nervous system. Neurologists diagnose and treat diseases of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, muscles, autonomic nervous system, and blood vessels.

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Doctors in this field care for the female reproductive system and associated disorders.


Physicians specializing in ophthalmology develop comprehensive medical and surgical care of the eyes.


This involves studies on the causes and nature of diseases.


If you love infants, children, and adolescents, this is the field for you.

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Physicians specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation work to help patients with disabilities of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.


Doctors in this field devote their careers to mental health and its associated mental and physical ramifications.


Surgeons could either be general surgeons or pursue a subspecialty in a specific area of the body, type of patient, or type of surgery.


This branch of medicine deals with the male and female urinary tract, including kidneys, ureters, bladder, urethra, and the male sex organs.

Key Considerations in Choosing a Medical Specialty

Your medical specialty will be a big part of your career as a doctor so it is important that you take a look at these factors before selecting the field you will specialize in.

1. Study the trends.

Select a specialty that has high demand but has a low supply of doctors. If you choose a field specialization that is over saturated with doctors, you will just be one of the frogs in the pond. There are many doctors out there to choose from and you might be getting only a small share of the patient population. It is but practical to choose a specialty that has a high demand but only few doctors have specialized in it. However, many doctors might not have chosen this specialization despite the demand because this field might include difficult concepts and procedures or require more years of residency. Be prepared to face these challenges if you want to pursue these specialties.

In relation to this, understanding trends is very necessary. This will allow you to see the future of a particular field of specialty. Key variables that are also important to look into are the possibility for private practice and the probability of the specialty to merge with another field. Remember that studying the market for medical services is also vital because it can affect your satisfaction in your job.

2. Choose a specialty that is less likely to be replaced by technology.

Medical technology is continuously evolving. Many medical professionals are slowly being replaced by machines as they are more efficient and cheaper. This will have a great impact in the medical workforce in the future. The role of physician may change from provider to supervisor.

3. A good specialty covers a wide-variety of diseases.

Choose a specialty that is not dependent on a small number of procedures and illnesses. Medicine is changing very fast as technology is continuously evolving. Once machines can do your job, you are out.

4. Apply for the best hospitals offering the specialty of your choice.

You will see a significant growth in your skills and knowledge if you qualify to a hospital with the best mentors in your field of specialty, latest technology, and a diverse population of patients so that you can gather more experience. Hence, it is important that you perform well during qualifying rounds for residents in the best hospitals.

5. Choose a specialty where you are truly interested in.

Getting a job that can pay the bills is the priority but your passions and what makes you happy is equally important. Following what you really want can give you fulfillment and the enthusiasm to go to work every day. Thus, be practical but always consider what you really want.

Choosing a specialty is a major life decision. It is important that you listen to your head but follow your heart as well. At the end of the day, it is you who has control on what you want your career to be. The choice is all yours!