10 most in-demand medical specialties & average compensation

Ayla Ellison (Twitter) - Print  | 

Family medicine is the most in-demand physician specialty in the U.S., and before the COVID-19 pandemic, orthopedics was the specialty with the highest annual compensation.

In its U.S. Physician Employment Report 2019, Doximity analyzed data on 27,000 physician job listings in 2018 and 2019 for the top 50 metropolitan areas. The report showed family medicine and internal medicine were the two most in-demand specialities. Last year, about 41 percent of the 8,116 internal medicine positions offered to medical students were filled by those pursuing MDs from U.S. medical schools, according to The Washington Post, which cited the 2019 National Resident Matching Program report. In the other two primary care fields — family medicine and pediatrics — similar trends were seen. 

Primary care specialties are not the highest-paying, which could be part of the reason the percentage of those positions filled by fourth-year medical students was the lowest on record in 2019. Average annual compensation for physicians specializing in internal medicine is $251,000, and that amount is lower for those specializing in family medicine or pediatrics. In contrast, average annual compensation for the highest-paying medical specialties — orthopedics and plastic surgery — is $511,000 and $479,000, respectively, according to Medscape's Physician Compensation Report 2020

Below are the 10 most in-demand medical specialties, according to the Doximity report, accompanied by average annual compensation based on responses Medscape collected from more than 17,000 physicians in more than 30 specialties. Data was collected before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and Medscape noted that lower patient volume due to the pandemic could cause benchmarks for physicians to be lowered. 

1. Family medicine: $234,000

2. Internal medicine: $251,000 

3. Emergency medicine: $357,000 

4. Psychiatry: $268,000 

5. Obstetrics and gynecology: $308,000 

6. Neurology: $280,000 

7. Radiology: $427,000 

8. Anesthesiology: $398,000 

9. Pediatrics: $232,000 

10. Cardiology: $438,000 

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