Top 10 Medical Specialties in Decline and Why It Is Your Chance to Succeed

Top 10 Medical Specialties in Decline and Why It Is Your Chance to Succeed

Feb 03, 2023 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

In the last century, advances in modern medicine have considerably increased life expectancy. According to a publication from the National Center for Health Statistics, the average life expectancy in the United States was 47 years old in 1900. Now, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the average American will live to be 78 years old.

More physicians will be necessary as life expectancy rises and the population ages. But as years go on, being a certified physician gets longer and harder to attain. Contributing to shortage and a greater increase in demand. With this, the healthcare business is expected to create more employment in the economy over the next decade than any other. Physicians in charge of a wide range of patients and conditions are at the helm.

If you're deciding whether to study medicine and are seeking for specialties to pursue, here are the top 10 medical specialties on the decline and the reasons why you should go for them.

#1 Neurology

Neurology is a fascinating field of study, with over 100 billion neurons in the brain transmitting and receiving impulses from cells and nerves throughout the body, constantly. Students interested in becoming neurologists, doctors who specialize in the study of the brain and nervous system as well as their treatment, are drawn to this because, as ironic as it sounds, it is one of the hardest but gratifying disciplines of medicine. Parkinson's disease, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's disease epilepsy, multiple sclerosis migraine, and concussion are among the conditions they identify and treat.

Why is it in demand?

The shortage of neurologists, especially in the U.S. is increasing, owing to rapidly rising rates of brain illnesses such as dementia and stroke, as well as the number of medical residents in the United States selecting other specialties over neurology.

Over the next 12 years, the demand for neurologists will outstrip the physicians under this medical specialty. Currently, an additional 11% more neurologists are required to meet patient demand. By 2025, that figure is predicted to rise to 19 percent. The number of neurologists will climb to 18,060 by that time, according to the researchers, as demand for this sort of specialist rises to 21,440.

To say the least, neurologists are in high demand, and they are one of the highest-paying medical specialties. And if you choose to concentrate in this field, you should have no trouble securing your career. It will also be easier for you to seek educational support in the future if you ever require it. It might be difficult to find funding for higher education, particularly medical school. But because of the great need for neurologists, however, capable candidates will find ample financing, scholarships, and even fellowships.

What does it take to be a neurologist?

  • 4 years of pre-medical education
  • Additional 4 years at a medical school for an M.D. or D.O. degree
  • 1 internship in general surgery
  • 5 to 7years in a neurosurgery residency program
  • May also need to join neurosurgery organizations after residency to specialize more in the area
  • Ongoing updates and education, attending annual meetings and conferences, keeping up to date with scientific journals and research to remain on track with the advances made in their respective field.

#2 Psychiatry

Psychiatry, a medical specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of behavioral, mental, and emotional disorders, is one of the most in-demand in the present times.

Throughout one's life, mental health is the source of thinking and communication skills, learning, resilience, and self-esteem. Because of the application of medical knowledge and understanding to the care of the mentally ill in a culturally competent manner, psychiatry is one of the noblest fields in medicine. Being a psychiatrist has untold richness. Professionals in this field must be emotionally intelligent since they must be sensitive, compassionate, and dedicated to giving the best possible care to their patients.

Why is it in demand?

In a relatively short time, the COVID-19 epidemic has changed the face of psychiatry. More challenging days lie ahead, given the pandemic's negative influence on mental health and the economy. In the United States and around the world, the rising public health burden of mental diseases will inevitably exceed the capacity of psychiatric treatments. Psychiatrists are in more demand than physicians in any other profession.

Between 1995 and 2020, the Bureau of Health Professions forecasts a nearly 20% rise in demand for general psychiatry services. During that time, the Bureau predicts a 100% growth in child and adolescent psychiatric services.

If consensuses done by physician recruiting firms truly represent current job market trends, the news for psychiatrists is quite appealing, but not so good for many patients. Psychiatrists' average yearly earnings may be rising at this point and will continue to rise as a result of these demands.

If you are interested in human behavior and mental health in general, Psychiatry might be the better fit for you, and there is no better time to pursue it than now.

What does it take to be a psychiatrist?

  • 4 years of undergraduate education
  • Additional 4 years at a medical school for an M.D. or D.O. degree
  • 1-year internship in general psychiatry
  • 3 years in a psychiatry residency program
  • May also need to join fellowships after residency to specialize more in the area
  • Passing the board for certification

#3 Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology is a specialty that focuses on the normal function and illnesses of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, small intestine, colon and rectum, gallbladder, liver, and bile ducts.In order to maintain good digestion, absorption of nutrients, waste elimination, and metabolic processes, a gastroenterologist must have a thorough awareness of the normal physiology of all of the above-mentioned organs; through the intestines and gastrointestinal tract.

Why is it in demand?

Colon cancer is the second preeminent cancer in the nation. An article from 2009 already predicted the decline of gastroenterologists by 2020. According to a study conducted by The Lewin Group, the United States will require an additional 1,050 gastroenterologists by 2020, based on current cancer screening rates. According to the business, an increase of 10% in colorectal cancer screening would necessitate the hiring of up to 1550 extra gastroenterologists. Many studies have found that the number of primary care doctors and geriatricians needed to handle the aging population is decreasing and the demand for them will keep going up from the year 2020 onwards.

What does it take to be a gastroenterologist?

  • 4 years of undergraduate education
  • Additional 4 years at a medical school for an M.D. or D.O. degree
  • 3 years in a psychiatry residency program in internal medicine
  • 2 to 3 years in fellowship to receive more specialized training including training in endoscopy
  • Passing the board for certification

#4 Hematology-Oncology

The phrase "hematologist oncologist" refers to two groups of physicians: hematologists are doctors who concentrate on the diagnosis and treatment of blood illnesses while oncologists are doctors who specialize in cancer diagnosis and treatment. A hematologist-oncologist is a specialist who focuses on both hematology and oncology.

According to Medicine Net, Hematology-oncology is the study of blood illnesses (hematology) and cancer (oncology) (oncology). Iron deficiency anemia, thalassemias, sickle cell disease, leukemias, hemophilia, and lymphomas, as well as malignancies of other organs, are all covered by hematology-oncology.

Why is it in demand?

White blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, and plasma are the four components of blood that assist oxygenate our organs and tissues, fight infections, and form clots to stop bleeding. These components, on the other hand, may suggest the presence of anomalies, which can lead to blood malignancies like cancer. This is when hematology-oncology enters the picture. According to a study, 1.24 million cases of blood cancer are diagnosed each year worldwide, accounting for around 6% of all cancer cases.

Oncology services require a proportionate number of employees in the workforce to diagnose, treat and care for cancer patients. And in 2014, according to an ASCO research, the United States would face a serious shortage of hematologists/oncologists and radiation oncologists by 2025. Oncologists were expected to be in short supply by 2,250. Based on this 2020 forecast, the number of professionals needed to handle the growing number of cancer patients and disease management demand is already in short supply.

The study's main finding is that, with one in every six Americans living in rural areas and 66 percent of rural counties lacking a hematologist or medical oncologist, access to appropriate cancer care is a major concern. Choosing this profession will not only allow you to provide adequate care and attention to those in need, but it will also be timely and useful for you in terms of compensation.

What does it take to be a hematologist-oncologist?

  • 4 years of pre-med education
  • Additional 4 years at a medical school for an M.D. or D.O. degree
  • 3 years in a psychiatry residency program in internal medicine
  • 2 to 3 years in a fellowship in special hematology fields such as hematology, hematology-oncology, pathology, or pediatric hematology-oncology
  • Passing the board for certification

#5 Dermatology

A dermatologist is a specialist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the hair, skin, and nails. They also cure mucous membranes, the delicate tissue that lines your mouth, nose, and eyelids.

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 44 million people contact dermatologists as a trusted source. Treatment of skin lesions, acne, skin rashes, discoloration, and pigmentation are the most common causes for these consultations. A dermatologist can also help spot the signs and symptoms of major underlying health disorders, in addition to these medical and aesthetic difficulties.

An illness like diabetes, for example, can induce symptoms that affect your skin's appearance. A dermatologist might be the first person to notice the symptoms.

Why is it in demand?

Dermatology is regarded as a quality of life field, which means that demand for these experts is higher than in other medical specialties. The rising percentage of skin cancer, as well as public awareness and concern about the issue, are expected to increase demand in the industry.

What does it take to be a dermatologist?

  • At least 3 years of undergraduate pre-medical degree
  • Additional 4 years at a medical school for an M.D. or D.O. degree
  • 1-year internship and 3 years in a dermatology residency program in internal medicine
  • Passing the board for certification


People pursue a medical degree for a variety of reasons, ranging from a personal calling to calculated financial benefit. Considering medicine, whether as a first choice or as a backup plan, is a long-term commitment and a decision that should not be taken lightly. But also remember, that timing is everything. These are the specialties that are in decline at the moment and demands will continue to rise. If you are looking into specialties you'd like to pursue, hope this article helped you. Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!


National Vital Statistics System, NCHS Fact Sheet, March 2021

Physician Shortages in Medical Specialties in 2021: An Inside Look

How do we fix the shortage of neurologists?

Supply and demand analysis of the current and future US neurology workforce

Directory For Fellowship Positions, American Academy of Neurology

Demand for Psychiatrists Continues to Grow

Americal College of Gastroenterology, What is Gastroenterologist?

Shortage of Gastroenterologists Predicted by 2020

Medical Definition of Hematology-oncology

Bristol Myers Squibb Journal, Blood Cancers

2020 Snapshot: State of the Oncology Workforce in America

National Center for Health Statistics, Dermatology Fact Sheet