20 Medical Specialties and Subspecialties to Know About

20 Medical Specialties and Subspecialties to Know About

Medical Specialties – Everyone has their own personal physician. But what if you don’t have one? You don’t need to leave your home to seek medical care. There are many top medical specialties that you can use to heal yourself. Here are ten of them.

There are many medical specialties and subspecialties. Each one has its own set of skills and techniques that are beneficial for treating specific diseases or conditions. However, it can be hard to find a subspecialty that is right for you. That’s why it’s important to ask around and find a doctor who specializes in your medical condition. This will help you get the treatment that you need and avoid any potential side effects.

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Walking out of the hospital with a few top medical specialties will help you heal quickly and effectively. If you suffer from any type of health issue, knowing which medical specialty can help will be very beneficial. From general surgery to heart disease, here are 10 of the most common medical issues that can be treated with specialist care.

For many people, medical specialty is a way to specialize in a certain area of study. There are many different medical specialties and subspecialties, each with its own set of skills and knowledge. This can be helpful if you have chosen this career because you think you will be able to excel in one area of medicine. However, it can also be dangerous to specialize in one area of medicine. This is because there are many different diseases and conditions that can be treated with the same treatments, and sometimes the best treatments for one disease may not be the best treatments for another.

What are medical specialties?

A medical specialty is a specific type of training that a doctor or other professional can receive to treat certain medical problems. A medical specialty may include medicine, surgery, nursing, pharmacy, or other health-related fields. There are many different types of specialties, and each one has its own set of techniques and tools that a doctor may use to treat patients.

There are many medical specialties, and each one has a different focus and focus on specific areas of medicine. For example, surgery is a specialty that deals with the removal of organs and tissues. This is a very important field of medicine because it can save lives. Another medical specialty that is focused on removing organs is cancer. Cancer is one of the most serious diseases you can get, and it’s caused by a lot of different things. So surgeons who are skilled in cancer surgery will be able to do a better job at removing tumors than someone who isn’t so skilled.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there are more than 135 recognized specialties and subspecialties in the United States. Medical schools offer instruction according to a common list of specialties from the American Board of Medical Specialties ABMS.

Each specialty requires advanced training and many have subspecialties that require additional instruction. Some subspecialties cross over several specialties, such as pediatrics, surgery, sleep medicine, sports medicine and hospice and palliative medicine.

Why are medical specialties important?

When patients experience a specific medical problem, they usually go to a specialist for diagnosis and treatment. Specializing in a certain area of medicine will also prepare you to properly address rare medical conditions that require specific and personalized treatment plans.

Narrowing down your options and working toward your intended field of medicine early in your medical school journey can give you an advantage. The specialty you choose will impact your residency and fellowship, if applicable, and the tasks you will perform when begin practicing medicine. Your chosen specialty and/or subspecialty will also determine if advanced training is needed or if you want to pursue board certification after you begin your career.

20 common medical specialties

Here are 20 specialty paths recognized by medical schools and health care organizations. Specialists typically earn more than primary physicians, but their fields also require more education and certification. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link. Check with American Board of Medical Specialties ABMSfor updates on specialty training requirements.

1. Allergy and immunology

National average salary: $248,010 per year

Description: The specialty of allergy and immunology involves assessing and treating both adult and pediatric patients suffering from allergies and diseases of the respiratory or immune system. Some of the most common ailments include asthma, allergies to drugs, foods and environmental factors, immune deficiencies and lung diseases. Specialists can pursue careers in research, education or clinical practice.

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Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Prior certification in internal medicine or pediatrics

  • Two years in allergy and immunology

2. Anesthesiology

National average salary: $296,804 per year

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Description: Anesthesiology focuses on relieving adult and pediatric patients’ pain before, during and after surgery. An anesthesiologist must be detail-oriented while managing a patient’s vital signs during surgery and monitoring their condition afterward.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Four years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Critical care medicine

  • Hospice and palliative care

  • Neurocritical care

  • Pain medicine

  • Pediatric anesthesiology

  • Sleep medicine

3. Dermatology

National average salary: $326,933 per year

Description: Dermatology focuses on adult and pediatric disorders of the skin, hair, nails and adjacent mucous membranes. Dermatologists diagnose and treat skin cancer, tumors, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases and cancers of the skin. They also perform dermatological surgical procedures, including skin biopsies and the removal of skin lesions and other abnormalities.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Four years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Dermatopathology

  • Micrographic dermatologic oncology

  • Pediatric dermatology

4. Diagnostic/interventional radiology

National average salary: $257,624 per year

Description: A radiologist is the eye of medicine, helping the primary care physician diagnose and treat diseases. They are trained to diagnose patients through the use of X-rays, radioactive substances, sound waves in ultrasounds and the body’s natural magnetism in magnetic resonance images MRI.

Radiologists who specialize in interventional radiology use image-guided minimally invasive procedures to treat benign and malignant conditions of the thorax, abdomen, pelvis and extremities.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Five years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Abdominal radiology

  • Breast imaging

  • Cardiothoracic radiology

  • Cardiovascular radiology

  • Chest radiology

  • Emergency radiology

  • Endovascular surgical neuroradiology

  • Gastrointestinal radiology

  • Genitourinary radiology

  • Head and neck radiology

  • Interventional radiology

  • Musculoskeletal radiology

  • Neuroradiology

  • Nuclear radiology

  • Pediatric radiology

  • Radiation oncology

  • Vascular and interventional radiology

5. Emergency medicine

National average salary: $188,339 per year

Description: Emergency medicine specialists provide care for adult and pediatric patients in emergencies. They make immediate decisions and take actions that often save lives and prevent further injuries. They work in hospital emergency departments or urgent care facilities.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Three years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Anesthesiology critical care medicine

  • Critical care medicine

  • Emergency medical services

  • Hospice and palliative care

  • Medical toxicology

  • Neurocritical care

  • Pain medicine

  • Pediatric emergency medicine

  • Sports medicine

  • Undersea and hyperbaric medicine

6. Family medicine/family practice

National average salary: $196,283 per year

Description: A family medicine specialist concentrates on the patient as a whole rather than focusing on a certain area of the body or age range. They provide comprehensive health care and treat many ailments.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Three years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Adolescent medicine

  • Geriatric medicine

  • Hospice and palliative medicine

  • Pain medicine

  • Sleep medicine

  • Sports medicine

7. Internal medicine

National average salary: $191,821 per year

Description: An internist is a physician who treats diseases of the heart, blood, kidneys, joints, digestive, respiratory and vascular systems of adolescent, adult and elderly patients. These specialists also address disease prevention and wellness.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Three years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Adolescent medicine

  • Adult congenital heart disease

  • Advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Clinical cardiac electrophysiology

  • Critical care medicine

  • Endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism

  • Gastroenterology

  • Geriatric medicine

  • Hematology

  • Hospice and palliative medicine

  • Infectious disease

  • Interventional cardiology

  • Medical oncology

  • Nephrology

  • Pulmonary disease

  • Pulmonary disease and critical care medicine

  • Rheumatology

  • Sports medicine

  • Transplant hepatology

8. Medical genetics and genomics

National average salary: $91,510 per year

Description: A medical geneticist is a physician who treats genetic disorders and diagnoses diseases caused by birth defects. They provide specialized counseling, arrange for treatment and help the patient and family understand and cope with the disorder. Some medical geneticists work primarily with infants and children. Some medical geneticists, often those who are first trained as obstetricians, concentrate on the genetic problems of fetuses.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Two to three years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Clinical biochemical genetics

  • Clinical genetics and genomics

  • Laboratory genetics and genomics

  • Medical biochemical genetics

  • Molecular genetic pathology

9. Neurology

National average salary: $245,985 per year

Description: Neurology pertains to the nervous system and nerves. These specialists diagnose and treat diseases of the brain, muscles, blood vessels, spinal cord, autonomic nervous system and peripheral nerves. Neurologists often consult on patients with seizure disorders, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Four to five years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Brain injury medicine

  • Child neurology

  • Clinical neurophysiology

  • Endovascular surgical neuroradiology

  • Hospice and palliative medicine

  • Neurodevelopmental disabilities

  • Neuromuscular medicine

  • Pain medicine

  • Sleep medicine

  • Vascular neurology

10. Nuclear medicine technologist

National average salary: $94,775 per year

Description: Specialists who practice nuclear medicine are called “nuclear radiologists” or “nuclear medicine radiologists.” They use radioactive materials to diagnose and treat diseases. Utilizing techniques such as scintigraphy, these physicians analyze images of the body’s organs to visualize certain diseases such as hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, tumors and bone cancer.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • One to three years

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11. Obstetrics and gynecology

National average salary: $225,647 per year

Description: Obstetrics and gynecology is the specialty focused on the female reproductive system and associated disorders. The field includes primary health care for women, care of pregnant women and delivery of babies, gynecological care, surgery and oncology.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Four years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Critical care medicine

  • Complex family planning

  • Female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery

  • Gynecologic oncology

  • Hospice and palliative care

  • Maternal-fetal medicine

  • Reproductive endocrinology and infertility

12. Ophthalmology

National average salary: $248,470 per year

Description: Ophthalmologists provide medical and surgical care of the eyes, including the treatment of cataracts, corneal transplants, diabetic retinopathy and strabismus and diabetic retinopathy. They see patients of all ages. These specialists also diagnose and treat vision problems.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Four years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Anterior segment/cornea ophthalmology

  • Glaucoma ophthalmology

  • Neuro-ophthalmology

  • Ocular oncology

  • Oculoplastics/orbit

  • Ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery

  • Retina/uveitis

  • Strabismus/pediatric ophthalmology

13. Pathology

National average salary: $232,642 per year

Description: A physician specializing in pathology studies the causes and nature of diseases. Through microscopic examination and clinical lab tests, pathologists work to diagnose, monitor and treat diseases. They examine tissues, cells and body fluids, applying biological, chemical and physical sciences within the laboratory. They may examine tissues to determine if an organ transplant is needed, if a tumor is cancerous or if a fetus is healthy.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Three to four years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Anatomical pathology

  • Blood banking and transfusion medicine

  • Clinical informatics

  • Chemical pathology

  • Clinical pathology

  • Cytopathology

  • Dermatopathology

  • Forensic pathology

  • Genetic pathology

  • Hemopathology

  • Immunopathology

  • Medical microbiology pathology

  • Molecular genetic pathology

  • Neuropathology

  • Pediatric pathology

14. Pediatrics

National average salary: $179,080 per year

Description: Pediatricians work with patients from birth to adolescence, providing preventive medicine and diagnosing common ailments and diseases in childhood. A pediatrician may serve as a primary care pediatrician or choose a subspeciality.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Three years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Adolescent medicine

  • Child abuse pediatrics

  • Developmental• behavioral pediatrics

  • Hospice and palliative medicine

  • Neonatal-perinatal medicine

  • Pediatric cardiology

  • Pediatric critical care medicine

  • Pediatric emergency medicine

  • Pediatric endocrinology

  • Pediatric gastroenterology

  • Pediatric hematology• oncology

  • Pediatric hospital medicine

  • Pediatric infectious diseases

  • Pediatric nephrology

  • Pediatric pulmonology

  • Pediatric rheumatology

  • Pediatric sports medicine

  • Pediatric transplant hepatology

  • Sleep medicine

15. Physical medicine and rehabilitation

National average salary: $235,000 per year

Description: Physical medicine and rehabilitation, also referred to as rehabilitation medicine, is the medical specialty concerned with diagnosing, evaluating and treating patients of all ages with disabilities of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Specialists are called “physiatrists” and they work to improve the patient’s quality of life. Disabilities may arise from birth defects, neck and back pain, sports injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome or other painful conditions. The disability may result from trauma or disease such as broken hips, spinal cord injury, head injury or stroke.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Four years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Brain injury medicine

  • Hospice and palliative medicine

  • Neuromuscular medicine

  • Pain medicine

  • Pediatric rehabilitation medicine

  • Spinal cord injury medicine

  • Sports medicine

16. Preventive medicine

National average salary: $208,000 per year

Description: A preventive medicine specialist focuses on preventing disease by promoting patient health and well-being. The field combines interdisciplinary elements of medical, social, economic, and behavioral sciences to understand the causes of disease and injury in population groups. They are heavily involved in influencing public policy, public health and designing health care systems to prevent and control the spread of diseases.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Three years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Aerospace medicine

  • Clinical informatics

  • Medical toxicology

  • Occupational medicine

  • Public health medicine

17. Psychiatry

National average salary: $222,449 per year

Description: Psychiatrists specialize in mental health and associated mental and physical impact. They work to understand and address the connections between mental illness, emotions and genetics. A psychiatrist will consult with patients to diagnose mental illness and provide treatment that may involve medication, therapy or a combination of both.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Four years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Addiction psychiatry

  • Administrative psychiatry

  • Child and adolescent psychiatry

  • Clinical neurophysiology

  • Consultation/liaison psychiatry

  • Emergency psychiatry

  • Forensic psychiatry

  • Hospice and palliative medicine

  • Geriatric psychiatry

  • Military psychiatry

  • Pain medicine

  • Psychosomatic medicine

18. Radiation oncology

National average salary: $208,000 per year

Description: Radiation oncology focuses on causes, prevention and treatment of malignant diseases by using high-energy radiation therapy, scans and imaging. By targeting radiation doses in specific areas of the body, radiation oncologists target disease cells, such as cancer, to prevent further growth.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Five years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Hospice and palliative medicine

  • Pain medicine

19. Surgery

National average salary: $287,740 per year

Description: Physicians specializing in surgery can become general surgeons or choose a subspecialty in a specific area of the body, type of patient or type of surgery. Since general surgeons provide a variety of life-saving surgeries, they receive broad training on human anatomy, physiology, intensive care and wound healing. The AAMC and American College of Surgeons outline many surgical subspecialties.

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Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Five to nine years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Colon and rectal surgery primary specialty

  • General surgery primary specialty

  • Gynecologic oncology

  • Plastic surgery

  • Neurological surgery

  • Ophthalmic surgery

  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery

  • Orthopedic surgery

  • Otolaryngology

  • Otology neurotology

  • Pediatric surgery, including neonatal, prenatal, trauma and oncology surgery

  • Surgical intensivists

  • Thoracic surgery, including congenital cardiac and integrated thoracic surgery

  • Vascular surgery primary specialty

20. Urology

National average salary: $236,665 per year

Description: Urology focus on the urinary tract, including the urethra, bladder, kidneys and ureter and the male sex organs. Urologists often perform surgery and consult with patients regarding several medical issues, including male infertility.

Specialty training required before board certification:

  • Five years

Subspecialties requiring additional training:

  • Female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery

  • Pediatric urology

Common subspecialties

Some subspecialties are so common that patients may confuse them as specialties. Many have become more popular due to technological advancements and robot-assisted procedures. The ABMS recognizes the following:

1. Cardiology

National average salary: $294,822 per year

Description: Cardiologists diagnose, treat and prevent heart and blood vessel diseases such as heart failure. Based on various test results, they may prescribe medications or diet and lifestyle changes. Cardiologists can also perform surgical procedures such as heart transplants, bypasses and heart valve repairs and insert pacemakers and defibrillators.

2. Gastroenterology

National average salary: $249,089 per year

Description: Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat digestive system disorders. These conditions might affect the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas or gallbladder. They often see patients with heartburn, diarrhea, gastric ulcers, abdominal pain, acid reflux and digestive organ cancers.

They understand how the digestive system processes food, absorbs nutrients and removes waste. They prescribe medications and provide nutrition advice for patients dealing with conditions such as Celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

3. Neurosurgery

National average salary: $309,539 per year

Description: Neurosurgery is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of patients with injury to—or diseases/disorders of—the brain, spinal cord and spinal column and peripheral nerves within all parts of the body. The specialty of neurosurgical care includes both adult and pediatric patients. Dependent on the nature of the injury or disease, a neurological surgeon may provide surgical and/or non-surgical care.

4. Oncology

National average salary: $218,126 per year

Description: Oncologists treat cancer patients. They explain each patient’s diagnosis, stage and prognosis and treatment options. They work with patients throughout their treatment, helping them manage symptoms of the disease and radiation therapy. They might further specialize in medical, surgical, radiation, pediatric, gynecologic or hematologic oncology.

5. Orthopedic surgery

National average salary: $229,379 per year

Description: Orthopedic surgeons diagnose, treat and prevent bone, joint, muscle and soft tissue injuries and conditions. Some treat all types of musculoskeletal issues, while others focus on certain body parts such as hips, knees, feet, ankles, spine, shoulders, elbows and hands. They might encounter traumatic injuries, birth defects, cancers or infections. Orthopedic surgeons often repair broken bones, damaged or arthritic joints and injured tendons and ligaments.

6. Otolaryngology

National average salary: $309,622 per year

Description: An otolaryngologist, also known as an “ear, nose and throat ENT specialist,” provides comprehensive medical and surgical care for patients of all ages with diseases and disorders that affect the ears, nose, throat, respiratory and upper alimentary systems and related structures of the head and neck.

7. Plastic surgery

National average salary: $274,883 per year

Description: Plastic surgery deals with the repair, reconstruction or replacement of physical defects involving the skin, muscles, facial structures, hand, extremities, chest and genitalia. Other times they perform procedures to repair damage from an injury, burn, disease or a deformity such as a cleft palate. Techniques plastic surgeons might use include skin grafts, facelifts, liposuction, breast implants and tissue transfers. Cosmetic surgery is an essential component of plastic surgery.

8. Reproductive endocrinology and infertility

National average salary: $179,099 per year

Description: Specialists in this field focus on advanced fertility treatments, such as in-vitro fertilization, and reproductive endocrinology issues. They perform surgeries for congenital abnormalities, fibroid tumors, tubal disease, endometriosis, polyps and adhesions.

9. Thoracic surgery

National average salary: $299,319 per year

Description: Thoracic surgery focuses on surgical care for patients with conditions within the chest. This includes coronary artery disease, cancers of the lung, esophagus and chest wall, trachea abnormalities of the trachea, congenital cardiac surgery, abnormalities of the great vessels and heart valves, congenital anomalies, tumors of the mediastinum and diseases of the diaphragm. Airway and chest injuries are within the scope of the subspecialty.

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