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Medical specialty

A medical specialty is any one of the non-surgical branches of medical science, other than general practice. A physician engaging in a medical speciality is a medical specialist.



The mean annual salary of a medical specialist is $175,011[1] in the US, and $272,000 [1] for surgeons.

As a comparison, the mean monthly salary for medical specialists in Sweden is $6.217 [2], i.e. ~$56.000 annualy or about a third of the US salary.

Country Salary ($)
Australia 75,000[3]
Sweden 56,000
United states 175,000

Specialties by country


In the United States, there are currently 25 certified specialties with the numerous sub-specialties. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS); the American Osteopathic Association Board of Specialists (AOABS) and the American Board of Physician Specialists (ABPS) are the three entities that oversee certification.

Certifying Entity Physician Type
ABMS Allopathic Only
AOABS Osteopathic Only
ABPS Allopathic and Osteopathic


There are three agencies or organizations in the United States which collectively oversee physician board certification of allopathic and osteopathic physicians in the 26 approved medical specialties recognized in the United States. These organizations are the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the American Medical Association; the American Osteopathic Association Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (AOABS) and the American Osteopathic Association; the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) and the American Association of Physician Specialists. Each of these agencies and their associated national medical organization functions as an umbrella for its various specialty academies, colleges and societies:

Certifying Board National Organization Physician Type
ABMS AMA Allopathic Only
AOABS AOA Osteopathic Only
ABPS AAPS Allopathic and Osteopathic

All boards of certification now require that physicians demonstrate, by examination, continuing mastery of the core knowledge and skills for their chosen specialty. Recertification varies by specialty between every 7 and every 10 years.

Medical specialties

In this table, medical specialities are organized into the following groups:

  • Surgical specialities - the use of manually operative and instrumental techniques to treat disorders.
  • Internal medicine - concerns the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of diseases in adults, especially of internal organs.
  • Diagnostic specialties, rather examines disorders etc. than directly attempts to cure.
  • Neurology - focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients with neurological disorders.
Speciality Code Group Subspecialities Description Salary in US[4] ($)
Anesthesiology AN/PAN surgical[5] the branch of medicine which deals with anesthesia and anesthetics. 233,400
Orthopedic surgery ORS surgical hand surgery, surgical sports medicine consists of surgery of the locomotor system. 289,000
Otolaryngology surgical (or otorhinolaryngology or ENT/ear-nose-throat) is concerned with treatment of ear, nose, and throat disorders. The term head and neck surgery defines a closely related specialty which is concerned mainly with the surgical management of cancer of the same anatomical structures. 199,200
Pediatric surgery surgical treats a wide variety of thoracic and abdominal (and sometimes urologic) diseases of childhood.
Plastic surgery PS surgical includes aesthetic surgery (operations that are done for other than medical purposes) as well as reconstructive surgery (operations to restore function and/or appearance after traumatic or operative mutilation). 317.000 [6]
Surgical oncology SO surgical/Oncology specialty concerned with curative and palliative surgical approaches to cancer treatment.
Urology U surgical Focuses on the urinary tracts of males and females, and on the male reproductive system. It is often practiced together with andrology ("men's health"). 227,200
Vascular surgery VS surgical surgery of peripheral blood vessels, i.e. those outside of the chest (usually operated on by cardiovascular surgeons) and of the central nervous system (treated by neurosurgery).
Transplant surgery TTS surgical
Thoracic surgery TS surgical 376.000 [7]
General surgery surgical traditionally defined as the specialty of surgery of the skin, endocrine glands, and abdomen (and, sometimes, the mammary glands). In some countries, it is still deemed a prerequisite training prior to progression to training in certain subspecialties, but lately has evolved into its own subspecialty 206,100
Cardiovascular surgery surgical the surgical specialty that is concerned with the heart and major blood vessels of the chest.
Trauma surgery TRS surgical
Maxillofacial surgery surgical concerned with the operative treatment of diseases, deformities, and other conditions of lower and middle one-third of face, including oral cavity and teeth (technically a subspeciality of dentistry).
Dermatology D or DS other deals with the skin and its appendages (hair, nails, sweat glands etc). 160,800
Emergency medicine EM surgical/Internal medicine branch of medicine that is practiced in a hospital emergency department, in the field (in a modified form — see EMS), and other locations where initial medical treatment of illness takes place. 172,300
Cardiology Internal medicine specializes in disorders of the cardiovascular system and its diseases. The field is commonly divided into subdisciplines dealing with congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease and electrophysiology. 251,700
Intensive care medicine Internal medicine or intensive care medicine - concerned with the therapy of patients with serious and life-threatening disease or injury. Intensive care medicine employs invasive diagnostic techniques and (temporary) replacement of organ functions by technical means. This field is often associated with Pulmonology.
Endocrinology Internal medicine concerned with the endocrine system (i.e. endocrine glands and hormones) and its diseases, including diabetes and thyroid diseases.
Gastroenterology Internal medicine concerned with the alimentary tract. 202,200
Clinical laboratory sciences Diagnostic specialties
  • Transfusion medicine is concerned with the transfusion of blood and blood component, including the maintenance of a "blood bank".
  • Cellular pathology is concerned with diagnosis using samples from patients taken as tissues and cells using histology and cytology.
  • Clinical chemistry is concerned with diagnosis by making biochemical analysis of blood, body fluids and tissues.
  • Hematology is concerned with diagnosis by looking at changes in the cellular composition of the blood and bone marrow as well as the coagulation system in the blood.
  • Clinical microbiology is concerned with the in vitro diagnosis of diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
  • Clinical immunology is concerned with disorders of the immune system and related body defenses. It also deals with diagnosis of allergy.
the clinical diagnostic services which apply laboratory techniques to diagnosis and management of patients. In the United States these services are supervised by a pathologist. The personnel that work in these medical laboratory departments are technically trained staff, each of whom usually hold a medical technology degree, who actually perform the tests, assays, and procedures needed for providing the specific services. 160,300 [8]
Hematology Internal medicine or haematology (BE) - concerned with the blood, the blood-forming organs, and blood diseases. Hematology is part of oncology in the US, though the disciplines are separate in the UK.
Hepatology Internal medicine concerned with the liver and biliary tract, and is usually a part of gastroenterology.
Infectious diseases ID Internal medicine concerned with the study, diagnosis and treatment of diseases caused by biological agents.
Nephrology Internal medicine concerned with diseases of the kidneys.
Proctology PRO Internal medicine specializes in treatment of disease in the rectum, anus, and colon.
Pulmonology Internal medicine(/intensive care specialty) chest medicine, respiratory medicine, or lung medicine is concerned with diseases of the lungs and the respiratory system. In some countries and areas. Pulmonology is generally considered a branch of internal medicine, although it is closely related to intensive care medicine when dealing with patients requiring mechanical ventilation. 142,900
Rheumatology RHU Internal medicine devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory diseases of the joints and other organ systems, such as arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
Neurosurgery NS Neurology/surgical 163,200 [9]
Radiology R/DR Diagnostic specialties
  • Interventional radiology is concerned with using imaging of the human body, usually from CT, ultrasound, or fluoroscopy, to do biopsies, place certain tubes, and perform intravascular procedures.
  • Nuclear Medicine uses radioactive substances for in vivo and in vitro diagnosis using either imaging of the location of radioactive substances placed into a patient, or using in vitro diagnostic tests utilizing radioactive substances.
the use of radiation in medical imaging and diagnosis. X-rays, etc. 186,600
Obstetrics and gynaecology OBS GYN surgical [5] the branches of medicine which deals with female reproductive organs, pregnancy, and childbirth. 260.000 [11]
Ophthalmology OPH surgical branch of medical practice dealing with the diseases and surgery of the visual pathways, including the eyes, brain etc. 222,600
Pathology PTH Diagnostic specialties the study and diagnosis of disease through examination of molecules, cells, tissues and organs. The term encompasses both the medical specialty which uses tissues and body fluids to obtain clinically useful information, as well as the related scientific study of disease processes. 189,000
Pediatrics PD other Like internal medicine, there are many pediatric subspecialities for specific age ranges, organ systems, disease classes, and sites of care delivery. Most subspecialities of adult medicine have a pediatric equivalent such as pediatric cardiology, pediatric endocrinology, pediatric gastroenterology, pediatric hematology, pediatric oncology, pediatric ophthalmology, and neonatology. deals with the medical care of infants, children, and adolescents (from newborn to age 16-21, depending on the country). 120.000[12]
Physical medicine and rehabilitation Neurology[5]/other (or physiatry) is concerned with functional improvement after injury, illness, or congenital disorders.
Oncology ON other devoted to the study, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer and other malignant diseases, and is often grouped with hematology. 180,800
Geriatrics IMG Internal medicine [5] branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis, care, and treatment of function and diseases of the aging patient.
Intensive care medicine other concerned with the provision of life support or organ support systems in patients who are critically ill and who usually require intensive monitoring.
Clinical Neurophysiology Diagnostic specialty concerned with testing the physiology or function of the central and peripheral aspects of the nervous system. These kinds of tests can be divided into recordings of: (1) spontaneous or continuously running electrical activity, or (2) stimulus evoked responses.
Palliative care PLM other a relatively modern branch of clinical medicine that deals with pain and symptom relief and emotional support in patients with terminal illnesses including cancer and heart failure.
Brain surgery surgical 400.000[13]
Psychiatry P other
  • Child and adolescent psychiatry focuses on the care of children and adolescents with mental, emotional, and learning problems including ADHD, autism, and family conflicts.
  • Geriatric psychiatry focuses on the care of elderly people with mental illnesses including dementias, post-stroke cognitive changes, and depression.
  • Addiction psychiatry focuses on substance abuse and its treatment.
  • Forensic psychiatry focuses on the interface of psychiatry and law.
the branch of medicine concerned with the bio-psycho-social study of the etiology, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cognitive, perceptual, emotional and behavioral disorders. Related non-medical fields include psychotherapy and clinical psychology. 139,600

Other uses

In the U.S. Army, the term "medical specialist" refers to occupational therapists, physical therapists, dietitians and physician assistants, also known as allied health professionals.

See also

  • Interdisciplinary sub-specialties of medicine, including e.g.
    • General practice - family practice, family medicine or primary care is, in many countries, the first port-of-call for patients with non-emergency medical problems. By definition not a medical speciality, but a mix of all of them.
    • Occupational medicine - branch of clinical medicine which provides health advice to organizations and individuals concerning work-related health and safety issues and standards. See occupational safety and health.
    • Disaster medicine - branch of medicine that provides healthcare services to disaster survivors; guides medically related disaster preparation, disaster planning, disaster response and disaster recovery throughout the disaster life cycle andserves as a liaison between and partner to the medical contingency planner, the emergency management professional, the incident command system, government and policy makers.
    • Preventive medicine- part of medicine engaged with preventing disease rather than curing it. It can be contrasted not only with curative medicine, but also with public health methods (which work at the level of population health rather than individual health).
    • Medical genetics - the application of genetics to medicine. Medical genetics is a broad and varied field. It encompasses many different individual fields, including clinical genetics, biochemical genetics, cytogenetics, molecular genetics, the genetics of common diseases (such as neural tube defects), and genetic counseling.


  1. ^ a b -Physician income not rising as faast as other professional pay
  2. ^ LÄKARE - Utbildning och arbetsmarknad - Sveriges läkarförbund (Swedish physician association
  3. ^
  4. ^ Annual. Unless else specified in table, then ref is:'Integrated Care' Practices Adjust Pay, Seek New Markets as Budgets Shrink Physician Compensation Report, June, 2002]
  5. ^ a b c d - new grouping of the medical specialities
  6. ^ taking the mean values between: Houston, TX: 300.000, Los Angeles, CA: 326.000, Miami, FL: 300.000, New York, NY: 341.000, Seattle, WA: 317.000.
  7. ^ Mean of 218,550 to 533.000
  8. ^ for an Allergist
  9. ^ for neurology
  10. ^ New York Times - 2 Lose Pay in Inquiry Into Fertility Clinic. Published: January 22, 1996, calculated as a mean value of the values provided, multiplicated with estimated 9 months per year yields 700.800
  11. ^ : mean of: 219,000 to 302,192
  12. ^
  13. ^ Mean of 380,000 to 420,000
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Medical_specialty". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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