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One of the biggest decisions medical students face is choosing a specialty of practice. With more than 120 medical specialties, many Ross University School of Medicine students begin their decision process by asking, what are the most in-demand physicians?

As the nation’s population expands and ages, it faces an alarming shortfall of physicians across the specialty spectrum. The United States will see a shortage of nearly 122,000 physicians by 2033 as demand for doctors grows faster than supply, according to a 2020 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The report projects a shortage of up to 55,200 primary care doctors and 86,700 specialty care physicians by 2033.

Selecting a specialty based on patient demand is only one criterion to consider when planning your career. However, since it's such a common question, let's look at the most in-demand physicians in 2021.

What Are the Most In-Demand Physicians?

In December 2019, Doximity released its U.S. Physician Employment Report 2019, which ranked demand for the top 10 most common medical specialties. The report found that family medicine and internal medicine are the most in-demand physician specialties. The list also includes several specialties that are popular residency choices with RUSM graduates.

An interesting trend reported by Doximity is the rapid growth of telemedicine. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary, telemedicine was one of the fastest-growing segments in the market. Demand for telemedicine services doubled from 2015-2019.

Most In-Demand Physician Specialties

More Americans have health insurance than ever before. This expanded access to care tracks with the growing need for physicians. Below are the most in-demand physician specialties, according to Doximity.

1. Family medicine: Family physicians are the only specialists qualified to treat the full spectrum of diseases and injuries across the population. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, they provide comprehensive health care for people of all ages. They serve as a patient’s main point of contact for any health concern and help coordinate patient care with other specialists.

Length of residency training: 3 years

2. Internal medicine: Internists are physicians who treat a wide range of simple and complex diseases and conditions in adults, according to the American College of Physicians. They are extensively trained on internal organs and the internal process. Internists often treat chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Also, they serve as an adult patient’s primary physician for preventative and wellness screenings, and they help coordinate patient care with other specialists.

 Length of residency training: 3 years

3. Emergency medicine: Emergency medicine physicians provide medical treatment to people needing acute and immediate care, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians. These physicians often treat people who have urgent, life-threatening injuries or conditions. They frequently work as part of a team in a hospital emergency department.

Length of residency training: 3 to 4 years

4. Psychiatry: Psychiatrists are physicians who diagnose and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders, according to the American Psychiatric Association. They are qualified to treat mental and physical conditions related to psychological problems. Psychiatrists use various treatments, including medications, psychotherapy and other interventions to treat everything from depression and mood disorders to substance abuse.

Length of residency training: 4 years

5. Obstetrics and gynecology: Obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs) specialize in the health of women before, during and after their childbearing years, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. They have expertise in pregnancy, childbirth and treating conditions and disorders related to the reproductive system. It is a procedure-based specialty that requires both medical and surgical skills.

Length of residency training: 4 years

6. Neurology: Neurologists diagnose, treat and manage disorders of the brain and nervous system, according to the American Academy of Neurology. Neurologists often pursue a subspecialty in headache medicine, neuromuscular medicine, neuro-oncology, vascular care, epilepsy, pediatric neurology or another area. They work closely with neurosurgeons to treat many conditions.

Length of residency training: 3 years, plus a 1-year residency in internal medicine or 2 years of pediatrics

7. Radiology: Radiologists use imaging methodology to diagnose and treat patients, according to the American College of Radiology. They have expertise in radiation safety and protection and treat diseases using radiation or image-guided intervention. Radiologists specialize in diagnostics, interventional or oncology radiology.

Length of residency training: 4 years, plus a 1-year residency in clinical medicine

8. Anesthesiology: Anesthesiologists specialize in anesthesia administration, pain management and critical care medicine, according to the American Society of Anesthesiology. During surgical procedures, they deliver general anesthesia, monitor sedation and deliver regional or local anesthesia. Post-surgery, they help manage patients’ pain.

Length of residency training: 3 years, plus a 1-year residency in clinical medicine

9. Pediatrics: Pediatricians specialize in the care of infants, children and young adults, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. They diagnose and treat common illnesses, conditions, and injuries. They administer vaccinations and monitor the physiological and emotional growth of their patients.

Length of residency training: 3 years

10. Cardiology: Cardiologists diagnose, treat and prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels, according to the American College of Cardiology. They treat acute conditions like heart attacks and chronic conditions like high blood pressure. They perform procedures, prescribe medicine and recommend lifestyle changes to manage patient health.

Length of residency training: 3-4 years, plus 3 years of internal residency

Become One of the Most In Demand Physicians: Start at RUSM

Each year, RUSM graduates are placed in residencies at leading hospitals in the United States and Canada . In 2020, 597 RUSM graduates attained residencies in 24 disciplines. Start your path to join the most in-demand physicians by applying for medical school at RUSM.


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In 2020, 91% of RUSM students passed the initial step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) on the first attempt. And in 2022-2023, results show yet another strong year for RUSM with a 97% first-time residency attainment rate* thus far. Located on the island of Barbados and with a network of more than 15,000 alumni, RUSM is one of the largest providers of doctors for the U.S. healthcare system. RUSM graduates practice in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico.

*First time residency attainment rate is the percent of students attaining a 2023-24 residency position out of all graduates or expected graduates in 2022-23 who were active applicants in the 2023 NRMP match or who attained a residency position outside the NRMP match.