5 Happiest Types of Doctors by Specialty

5 Happiest Types of Doctors by Specialty


As we covered recently on this channel, being a doctor today isn’t quite the same as being a doctor a couple of decades ago. For more seasoned doctors to even newly minted physicians, most doctors say that medicine is changing for the worst and in some surveys, seven out of ten physicians are unwilling to recommend healthcare as a profession. But enough of this negativity. Surely, many doctors are more than happy to be practicing medicine. Let’s find out what makes them so happy, so you too can enjoy a fulfilling career as a future physician. Dr. Jubbal, MedSchoolInsiders.com. We can define a physician’s happiness in two broad categories: at work and outside of work. In the recent MedScape Physician Lifestyle and Happiness Report of 2019, over three quarters of surveyed physicians described themselves as happy outside of work. More specifically, the happiest specialties, meaning those with the greatest proportion of happy physicians, were rheumatology at number one, otolaryngology at number two, endocrinology at number three, followed by pediatrics and general surgery. On the bottom end, the five least happy specialties were oncology, pathology, cardiology, infectious diseases, and neurology. That was for 2019, but in last year’s Medscape report, the top five happiest specialties outside of work were immunology, dermatology, emergency medicine, ophthalmology and plastic surgery.
The bottom five were internal medicine, infectious diseases, oncology, public health & preventive medicine and, cardiology. Between 2018 and 2019, there isn’t much overlap. While Dermatology was a top-five happiest outside of work specialty in 2018, it was in the bottom third in 2019. Does this mean medicine is changing rapidly year to year, causing physicians to be miserable? I’d argue probably not. More likely, these are artifacts from survey collection methods and statistical limitations. It is important to note, however, that the range of happiness of physicians outside of work was between 40% on the low end to 67% on the high end. When we look at happiness at work, the range is less optimistic. The least happy specialties had a happiness rate of 24%, and the highest rate were only 43%. Per Medscape’s report, the happiest specialties at work were dermatology at number one, ophthalmology at number two, allergy and immunology at number three, followed by a three-way tie between orthopedic surgery, psychiatry, and pulmonary medicine. So why the large discrepancy between happiness at work and outside of work? First, let’s address the elephant in the room – why are doctors so much happier outside of work than at work? Well, despite what most social media influencers highlight on their Instagram or YouTube channels, medicine isn’t all fun and games. At the end of the day, being a physician is work. And on average, work isn’t as fun or happiness-inducing as leisure time with friends and family. Happiness is also likely decreasing on average amongst physicians as burnout is rising due to regulations resulting in more charting and less time actually interacting with patients. But we’re not going to focus on that – we’re keeping it positive in this video. Let’s discuss what makes physicians happy outside of work versus at work. Happiness outside of work is largely a function of what we call the lifestyle of the specialty. When we talk about the lifestyle of a specialty,
we’re encompassing factors like the number of hours spent in the hospital, the amount of money one makes, and how predictable or unpredictable the work hours are, which is mainly a function of being on-call. With that in mind, it makes more sense for these favorable lifestyle specialties to score higher in terms of happiness outside of work. Emergency medicine has shift work, so you know exactly when you clock in and when you clock out, and you can choose the number of shifts you take per month. This makes for a great lifestyle. Plastic Surgery, urology, and otolaryngology, also known as ENT, also scored highly on happiness outside of work.
These three are all surgical subspecialties, meaning they make very good money. And because they deal with less urgent pathologies, their call isn’t nearly as bad as something like neurosurgery or orthopedic surgery. They have pretty good lifestyles, and it’s, therefore, no surprise that they score highly unhappiness outside of work. Dermatology is unique in that it’s scored quite highly both at work and outside of work. Dermatology is one of the top two most competitive specialties, alternating the number one spot with plastic surgery, depending on the year. We joke that those who go into dermatology are doing it for the large paycheck, sweet lifestyle, and easy life. Except it’s not that much of a joke. Most dermatologists don’t take call, and they don’t have to work long hours either. In terms of lifestyle, It’s hard to beat. At work, dermatologists are also quite happy, at least according to the 2017 and 2018 results. What then makes doctors happier at work? It depends on a few factors, such as the amount of time spent with patients, versus charting or doing administrative work. The types of patients are important too. We call this the specialties’ patient population. A happier and healthier patient population is easier to work with than an unhealthy or difficult patient population. Immediate results and improvements with the patient’s condition are also rewarding. That’s why helping patients through procedures or rapidly treatable conditions is more happiness-inducing than say, dealing with cancer or congestive heart failure. Lastly, high levels of stress at work will slowly but surely eat away at your sense of well-being. With this in mind, it makes sense why dermatologists are happy at work. There’s low stress, they deal with happy and healthy patients, their treatments are measurable, sometimes involving procedures and usually demonstrate quick improvements. Cardiology, on the other hand, scored in the bottom five specialties across all three years. Again, this makes sense. Patients who need to see cardiologists are usually older on average with several comorbidities, meaning other medical conditions. The outcomes, meaning how the patients fare long-term, isn’t as good, so cardiologists are unlikely to witness rapid or measurable improvements over the course of treating a patient. Depending on the sub-specialization within cardiology, it can also be quite stressful. If you’re on the fence about two or more specialties, looking at data like this may be helpful. However, for most future doctors, I’d argue this sort of information should not significantly sway your decision. Chances are you’ll find one or two specialties you are particularly drawn to. Rather than looking at the data about others’ happiness levels, examine your own. During your rotations or while shadowing, put yourself in the doctor’s shoes and consider the factors that influence happiness. Do you enjoy the patient population? What about the bread and butter, meaning the most common pathologies you’ll see day to day in that specialty? Do you enjoy working with your hands or
do you prefer more face-to-face speaking with patients? Are unpredictable hours a deal-breaker for you or something that you can tolerate? Going into a specialty that you actually enjoy will be far more important in your long term happiness than the mental exercises of thinking, which specialty has the best lifestyle or best procedures or best compensation. That being said, don’t fall into the trap I’ve seen many succumb to. I’ve come across dozens of residents and even attending physicians who wanted to do a different specialty like orthopedics or dermatology or plastic surgery, but ultimately had to compromise to something else because they weren’t competitive enough for the specialty they truly desired. If you think you’re not the smartest and that you’re doomed, stop right there. Your ability to crush your MCAT, USMLE Step 1, and have dozens of research articles is less a function of your intelligence and more a function of proper preparation, constantly iterating and improving, and putting in the work. Having a stellar medical school or residency application in crushing the interviews is no different, even if you don’t consider yourself a “people person.” At Med School insiders, our mission is to empower a generation of happier, healthier, and more effective future doctors. From medical school or residency application help to crushing your MCAT or USMLE, we’ve got your back. And our results speak for themselves, we’ve become the fastest-growing company in the space with the highest satisfaction ratings. See for yourself and learn more at MedSchoolInsiders.com. Were you surprised by the results from these physicians’ happiness surveys? Let me know your thoughts with a comment down below and leave us a thumbs up to keep the YouTube gods happy. If you want to chat with me in real-time, make sure you have that notification bell enabled as I’m in the comments during the first hour after a video uploads. much love to you all and I will see you guys in that next one.


100 thoughts on “5 Happiest Types of Doctors by Specialty

  1. My goal is to be an oncologist. And I’m a pretty happy person with my personal and military life so. And I love working. So I’m going to break that statistic

  2. Can you discuss what type of research undergraduate pre-medical students should participate in? I’ve had advisors tell me completely different types of research are needed than what I thought, however the advisors are non biology related. I have been told that unless I create my own research topic that is overseen by a professor that it won’t count for medical school or that other kinds of research are frowned upon. This has caused me to be unsure of the work study/ research that I’m doing will count for medical school. On another note, I love your videos! They are so motivating and insightful.

  3. No one quits when things are good. They quit when they get bad. Choose a specialty that won't make you quit when things are bad.

  4. Please make a video on Anaesthesia.. who is Anesthesiologist or Anaesthesiast what's the difference between these two or they are same? Their work, specialization etc please.

  5. What you mention about patient outcome in cardiology is not accurate at all. Performing a PCI on a dying patient can increase his/hers lifespan from 1 hour to 10 years.
    Administering diuretics to a patient who can't breath due to pulmonary edema can rapidly improve his quality of life, as do pacemakers.
    Although some cases are not treatable, most of the time the patient outcome is really good.
    I'd say it ranks in the bottom mainly because of the patient and/or family fear of the imminent death that creates a bad general mood and cases where patients with no heart rhythm can't be ressusitated.

  6. OK, 20 years in and I still love Pathology. There's just something new every day and people are happy – That's one of the main reasons that I chose Patology over Surgery or Anesthesiology. A good number of folks in those other specialties seemed downright miserable. For those interested in Pathology, don't let others discourage you – go for it.

  7. Im surprised with the anesthesiologists, I know its a stressful job but every anesthesiologist that I meet are the HAPPIEST people in the world

  8. I need some help,
    I am an IMG my GPA is 3.30 out of 5
    If I scored a stellar score on all my steps
    And done my research and had some experience in the USA
    Can I get into dermatology ?
    What I loved reading about in med school was pathology,
    I wanna be involved in the field of research,
    A bonus is that I am not a people person at all,
    I want an easy and a job that pays off pretty good,
    Pathology is nice and calm but the pay is not as dermatology
    For IMGs pathology is very friendly and not competitive as dermatology
    What should I choose ?

  9. If everyone working in the med field are so unhappy let’s just get rid of it who the fuck need it anyways

  10. Can we get a video about succeeding with clinical evaluations and getting good letters of recommendation?
    I get that studying is big for a lot of people, but a big part of med school doesn't just come from studying.

  11. Thank you for your work, Dr. Jubbal.
    I'm going to start studying biomed at uOttawa next year, and your work is helping me be inspired and have the right tools to study my way into medicine. (Your ANKI tutorials are great for my french class!)

  12. What's so odd to me about watching these videos is that I am going to become a psychiatrist and the profession is never mentioned in most of the videos!

  13. Can you do something about what each speciality actually does? I’d like to be a neurosurgeon because I’d love to work on the brain but I’m not sure what else is invlovled

  14. I'm curious to see a video about charting. Whit is it? Why is it considered such a drag in the medical profession? Why is charting taking up more of a physician's workday now than say, 10 years ago?

  15. What other video topics should I cover next? 5 doctors with best lifestyle? 5 craziest doctors? 😂Let me know with a comment below!

  16. I think most happy are anatomy people🤣🤣🤣
    They get to screw students at work..
    And relax after work..
    Get ready the next morning ready to screw the Students again..🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Pediatrics and obstetrics in india will make u happiest ..patient party will free u from all life burdens .and then ur soul can be happy and fly tp god or wherever it has to go ( .if someone dies )..🤣

  17. Hmmmm, I enjoy interacting with patients, I also want to have time for myself.
    My first love in medical speciality is orthopedics. But it is kinda time consuming.
    I am planning going for O&G, wish me luck.

  18. I'm still a first year med student however I already got some specialties I'm interessted in, like emergency medicine, cardiology and trauma surgery.
    But I will see if that's gonna be still the case a couple of years from now 🙈😂

  19. Pulmonologist r happy abroad at work ? They must not having MDR or XDR TB.. what they r doing for ILD.
    What immunologist psychiatrist doing in the list ? They must be least bothered about the results or patient outcome..

  20. Guys…..i don't know about other countries……as far as Indian is considered,please don't take doctor as profession……becoz the system is deteriorating…..

  21. I literally cannot decide between pathology, radiology, anesthesiology, or a surgical specialty. Obviously, I dont like people or patient interaction. I originally fell in love with path, but then i thought oh wait rad and anesthesiology look pretty sick i want to learn all that too! Im almost taking surgery off my list though because i am not ok with those long work hours. Even though I LOVE being in the OR and am always itching to get my hands in there, i simply value my free time way too much..
    Hope I can decide!

  22. I've seen in certain research that Podiatry ranks number one in terms of work-life balance and the least amount of stress.

  23. I'm just gonna say here that your speciality choice, if you're not at least in the final year of med school, means nothing. People from my year group started off as aspiring surgeons who did psychiatry, general physicians –> surgery, medicine –> radiology. This even changed in the 2 years after graduation, right before you committ to choosing a speciality (UK pathway). My advice is keep an open mind, don't worry about statistics. Choose a speciality that interests you, but also one that you can see yourself doing when you're 40 with 2 kids, 50 with kids in college/university, 60 when your body may be tiring.

  24. If you are happy outside your work, then your job must be pretty boring… so lesson learnt look for specialties from below the ranking

  25. I'm an Emergency Medicine doc and I love it so much. I'm so happy. NO CALL. NO OFFICE. NO MIDDAY SITTING AROUND GETTING TIRED. You make your schedule, you get to do procedures, sedation, orthopedics, eye exams, trauma, wound repair, cardiology workups and everything in between. Oh yea, and high compensation.

  26. Mcat and usmle are far enough to enter residency in my country, all about reccomendation and connection from senior fellow/staffs or govs stakeholder

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