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HomeHealth5 of the Happiest Physician Specialties to Pursue

5 of the Happiest Physician Specialties to Pursue

As a general rule, when people are deciding on what career to pursue, they are looking at two main aspects. The first is how much money they can earn. The second is if they believe they would be happy in that career.

When deciding that pursuing a career in medicine would make you happy, you still have a wide range of specialties to choose from. How can you determine which would make you the happiest?

Let’s take a look at Medscape’s 2022 Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report to see what makes a physician happy and which groups are the happiest.

What Makes Physicians Happy

According to this survey, physicians need to maintain certain areas of their life in order to maintain a good happy rating. 

Not surprisingly, the top-rated activity that improves the overall feeling of satisfaction in physicians is spending time with family and friends. 

The activity that landed second place in what physicians consider the biggest aspect of their happiness is time spent doing hobbies like gardening, cooking, and other things physicians enjoyed doing. 

Both these activities require free time, so it’s important for physicians to keep a good work-life balance. 

Regardless of which specialty a physician decides to pursue, they should do their best to ensure that they have plenty of free time to do the things they love and be with the ones they love. 

Now for the specialties with the highest happiness ratings…

The Top 5 Happiest Physicians

Those physicians who rated the highest levels of job satisfaction and happiness are:


This specialty is more laid back and gives reasonable pay. It’s also one of the specialties with the most physically fit doctors.

This is probably due to the structured hours that dermatologists work. No doubt, there are very few dermatological emergencies but the need for dermatologists is still very high.


Ophthalmologists spend much of their days checking patients’ eyes and prescribing medicine or glasses for those who they find will benefit from it.

At times, an ophthalmologist may perform surgery if this is within the realm of their practice. These doctors will earn more than the typical eye doctor.

Again, this specialty won’t require extensive overtime or high levels of stress but still pays well and is in high demand. 

Allergy and Immunology

This specialty diagnoses and treats any adverse reaction to the skin, eyes, sinuses, or gut due to allergies. They will also treat autoimmune disorders and things of that nature.

Ranking third as the happiest specialty of doctors, this specialty will allow you to make a big difference in your patient’s quality of life without having to be under severe pressure.


Orthopedic surgeons are one of the highest-paid doctors and work a relatively low level of hours compared to some.

This specialty probably ranks number four on the list because their time is so well compensated for. 


Who wouldn’t be happy working to improve the health of children all day? Pediatricians are one of the happiest doctors you will find. 

The Top 5 Most Burned Out Physicians

According to Medscape’s Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2022, some physicians are really feeling the negative ramifications of a demanding career. 

Those who ranked the most burned-out include:

Emergency Medicine 

No big surprise here. This specialty requires that you spend most of your days in a high-stress situation where many patients are in desperate medical need.

According to Medscape’s report, this specialty had a 60% burnout rate. This is alarmingly high.

Critical Care

This specialty is similar to emergency medicine so it makes sense that they too would suffer from burnout. The rate at which this specialty reported burnout is 56%.


Next on the list are obstetrics and gynecologists. This specialty reported a 53% burnout rate.

Infectious Disease

With COVID still on everyone’s mind, no doubt physicians who are in charge of dealing with infectious diseases are still reeling from the effects of the last two years of pandemic breakout.

This specialty reported a 51% burnout rate. 

Family Medicine

This specialty is tied with infectious disease at a 51% burnout rate.


When making your decision on which medical degree to pursue, there are some important aspects to consider. As you have read from the information above, various physician specialties can lead a very different lifestyle. 

It’s important to identify what’s most important to your happiness and find a specialty that fits into those parameters. 

Sometimes it’s more than just the specialty but the negotiation process of physician employment contracts that will make the biggest difference in this regard. Learn more about this process here

If you try to fit your happiness around your work, you’ll most likely be disappointed. 



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