Physician specialty preferences are shifting: 5 that grew, fell most

Sports medicine as a specialty grew significantly from 2016 to 2021, while pulmonary disease fell most, according to the Association of American Medical College's "2022 Physician Specialty Data Report."

The report is based on data from the American Medical Association, the U.S. Census Bureau, and a national resident database and tracking system. Overall, it covers about 950,000 physicians and physicians in training among 48 of the largest specialties in 2021. 

Here are five specialties that saw the most growth between 2016 and 2021, based on percent changes in the number of active physicians: 

Sports medicine — up 42.5 percent 

2016: 2,252 active physicians 

2021: 3,208 active physicians 

Pediatric anesthesiology — up 37.7 percent 

2016: 2,065

2021: 2,843

Interventional cardiology — up 32.6 percent

2016: 3,572

2021: 4,736

Critical care medicine — up 30.1 percent 

2016: 10,883

2021: 14,159

Sports medicine (orthopedic surgery) — up 26 percent

2016: 2,432

2021: 3,065

Five specialties that saw the most decline between 2016 and 2021:

Pulmonary disease — down 10.8 percent

2016: 5,456

2021: 4,867

Anatomic/clinical pathology — down 7.7 percent

2016: 13,201

2021: 12,180

Orthopedic surgery — down 3.7 percent

2016: 19,174

2021: 18,469

Radiology and diagnostic radiology — down 2.4 percent

2016: 27,852

2021: 27,197

General surgery — down 2.2 percent

2016: 25,449

2021: 24,881 

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