Career Buzz: Physician Jobs and Opportunities

First and foremost, there will certainly be no shortage of physician jobs in the future.  As a matter of fact, there’s a projected shortage of physicians and other healthcare professionals that continues to grow.  Though there are thousands of eager pre-med and med students looking for a career in medicine, the process of becoming a physician be it a specialist or generalist isn’t always the clearest.  One major concern of med school graduates and physicians looking for new opportunities is stable employment to pay off student loan debts and to pay for malpractice insurance.  Luckily, hospitals and hospital systems have multiple programs to entice prospective physicians to join their team.  Additionally, a shortage of physicians and healthcare professionals means higher pay and continued positive growth.

Livingston Buzz has worked alongside PracticeMatch, a job site aimed at filling healthcare positions, to outline common and growing healthcare fields and specialists.  We cover an in-depth description, pay, and growth rate of the top physician positions and fields.


Specialists vs. Generalists

The first thing to note when discussing physician jobs is whether or not the positions or field you’re considering is general or specialty medicine.  General medicine is pretty straightforward.  If a physician is practicing general medicine they do not take on a specialty and typically perform general consultations and minor treatments.  Generalists refer patients to specialists should a patient ever need a specialist.  Generalists are found at your neighborhood family doctor’s office; that place you go when you need a physical or are in need of minor treatment.  Generalists are also found at larger urgent care clinics.  General practitioners as they’re more commonly known as aren’t restricted to one part of the body and typically have more flexibility.  Moreso, just because general practitioners don’t focus on a single body part or condition doesn’t mean they take a significant pay hit.

Before we dive into specialist positions, let’s first take a look at what generalists can expect to make and how many general practitioners will be needed in the future.  A general practitioner makes, on average, $173,181 a year.  $173k a year is far less than an invasive cardiologist but close to what other specialty physicians make in a year.  Additionally, the growth rate is in line with other medical fields hovering between 10-14% over the next ten or so years.

With a lower annual wage and similar growth rate, why would a med school student or prospective physician work towards general medicine?  General practitioners are often some of the happiest and least stressed medical professionals in the industry.  Generalists and general practitioners form close relationships with their patients and can diagnose and even treat a variety of illnesses and conditions.  General practitioners benefit from flexible work schedules, stress-free work places, and long-term relationships with patients.  General medicine is a safe bet in terms of both pay and job security.  Though, as mentioned, the pay is not nearly as lucrative as a specialist, general medicine is safe and rewarding.


Specialty Medicine

Speciality medicine, like general medicine, is fairly straightforward.  Speciality medicine is a blanket term to refer to all physicians that aren’t generalists or general practitioners.  If you’re not a generalist you’re a specialist.  However, specialty medicine is more complex in that there are dozens of fields and positions.  From invasive cardiology to hepatology, specialty medicine is where the bulk of the highest paying physician jobs are found.  Here are just a few of the more common and in-demand specialty positions.

Spotlight: Hospitalist Jobs

The first specialist positions we’re covering are hospitalists.  Hospitalists most resemble a general practitioner out of the specialty positions we’re covering in this resource piece.  As the name suggests, hospitalists work in hospitals.  Hospitalists work alongside nurses, surgeons, and other specialists.  Hospitalists can diagnose, prevent, and treat a wide array of illnesses and injuries.  Hospitalists typically work under a supervising physician though have the flexibility of most other specialty fields.  Hospitalists are not only flexible regarding hours but also where they practice.  Given the broad nature of what hospitalists do, hospitalists can practice at multiple hospitals or clinics.

Hospitalists earn roughly $217,267 annually.  Additionally, the demand for hospitalists is expected to grow by more than 15% over the next decade rivaling all other generalist and specialist fields.  This is due to the competitive salary, flexible nature of the position, and need for more inpatient care.

General Surgeon

General surgeons perform a variety of tasks at hospitals and clinics.  The term general surgeon is another term that does a fantastic job of explaining what the position is.  General surgeons perform various surgeries.  The heart, brain, and other organs and systems are often left to other specialists while general surgeons can perform fairly non-invasive and basic surgeries.  It’s another flexible specialty with lucrative pay and fantastic benefits.

General surgeons make on average $265,000 a year and are expected to grow at the same rate as physicians as a whole.

Dermatologist

Dermatologists are often ranked among some of the happiest and stress-free physician specialists in the industry.  Dermatologists are happy for a variety of reasons.  First off, dermatologists make a lot of money.  Second, dermatologists work in small intimate settings often forming long-term relationships with patients and their immediate families.

Dermatologists treat a wide array of skin conditions ranging from acne to skin cancer.  Though it is worth noting that many consider dermatology a luxury unless of course one suffers from a severe skin disease of skin cancer.  Because seeing a dermatologist for acne, scarring, or premature aging is seen as a luxury, economic recessions and downturns could impact this specialty more than other specialties.  Still, in the current economic state, dermatology is a growing and flourishing specialty.

Dermatologists make $400,898 annually though have a lower growth rate over the next decade.  Also noteworthy is that dermatology is often considered one of the hardest fields in which to get a job.

Neurologist

By far the most intellectually challenging medical specialty, neurology is rewarding both financially and personally.  However, again, this specialty is just that, a specialty.  Neurologists treat a variety of illnesses and conditions pertaining to the brain.  You don’t have to be a doctor to know that the brain is very complex.  Neurologists will work alongside radiologists to diagnose and evaluate scans of the brain.  Once the tedious process of diagnosing an illness or condition is completed, treatment follows.  Treatment can range from invasive brain surgery to non-invasive procedures.  Neurologists, specifically neurosurgeons are the most stressed specialists in the industry.

Neurologists make $243,105 annually while neurosurgeons make upwards of $609,639 a year.  The ten-year growth rate for this specialty is estimated lower than the overall physician growth rate, however, still higher than many non-medical fields.


Part 2: Be on the lookout for part 2 in which we cover cardiologists, urologists, and orthopedic surgeons.