A specialty, or speciality, in medicine is a branch of medical practice. After completing medical school, physicians or surgeons usually further their medical education in a specific specialty of medicine by completing a multiple year residency to become a medical specialist.
1 History of medical specialization
2 Classification of medical specialization
3 Specialties that are common worldwide
4 List of specialties recognized in the European Union and European
5 List of North American medical specialties and others
7.1 Australia and New Zealand
7.5 United States
7.6 Specialty and
8 Other uses 9 Training 10 Satisfaction 11 See also 12 References
History of medical specialization To a certain extent, medical practitioners have always been specialized. According to Galen, specialization was common among Roman physicians. The particular system of modern medical specialities evolved gradually during the 19th century. Informal social recognition of medical specialization evolved before the formal legal system. The particular subdivision of the practice of medicine into various specialities varies from country to country, and is somewhat arbitrary. Classification of medical specialization Medical specialties can be classified along several axes. These are:
Surgical or internal medicine Age range of patients Diagnostic or therapeutic Organ-based or technique-based
Throughout history, the most important has been the division into
surgical and internal medicine specialties. The surgical specialties
are the specialties in which an important part of diagnosis and
treatment is achieved through major surgical techniques. The internal
medicine specialties are the specialties in which the main diagnosis
and treatment is never major surgery. In some countries Anesthesiology
is classified as a surgical discipline, since it is vital in the
surgical process, though anesthesiologists never perform major surgery
Many specialties are organ-based. Many symptoms and diseases come from
a particular organ. Others are based mainly around a set of
techniques, such as radiology, which was originally based around
The age range of patients seen by any given specialist can be quite
variable. Paediatricians handle most complaints and diseases in
children that do not require surgery, and there are several
subspecialties (formally or informally) in paediatrics that mimic the
organ-based specialties in adults.
Specialty Can be subspecialty of Diagnostic (D) or therapeutic (T) specialty Surgical (S) or internal medicine specialty (I) Age range of patients Organ-based (O) or technique-based (T)
Anaesthesiology None T Unknown All Both
Aerospace medicine None Both Neither All Both
Pathology None D Neither All T
Cardiology Internal medicine T I Adults O
Cardiothoracic surgery General surgery T S Adults O
Clinical neurophysiology Neurology D I All Both
Colon and Rectal Surgery General Surgery Both S All O
Dermatology-Venereology None T I All O
Emergency medicine Anaesthetics Both I All Both
Endocrinology Internal medicine T I Adults O
Gastroenterology Internal medicine T I Adults O
General practice None Both Neither All Multidisciplinary
Geriatrics Internal medicine or family medicine T I Geriatric Multidisciplinary
Health informatics None Both Neither All Multidisciplinary
Hospice and palliative medicine Various Both Neither All Neither
Internal medicine None T I Adults Neither
Interventional radiology Radiology Both Unknown All Multidisciplinary
Vascular medicine Internal medicine T I Adults O
Nephrology Internal medicine T I All O
Neurology Internal medicine T I All O
Neurosurgery Surgery T S All O
Nuclear medicine None Both I All T
Occupational medicine None T I Adults Multidisciplinary
Ophthalmology None T S All O
Orthodontics None T S All O
Orthopaedics General surgery T S All O
Oral and maxillofacial surgery Surgery T S All O
Otorhinolaryngology None T S All O
Paediatrics None T I Paediatric Neither
Paediatric allergology Paediatrics T I Paediatric O
Paediatric cardiology Paediatrics T I Paediatric O
Paediatric endocrinology and diabetes Paediatrics T I Paediatric O
Paediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition Paediatrics T I Paediatric O
Paediatric haematology and oncology Paediatrics T I Paediatric O
Paediatric infectious diseases Paediatrics T I Paediatric O
Neonatology Paediatrics T I Neonatal Neither
Paediatric nephrology Paediatrics T I Paediatric O
Paediatric respiratory medicine Paediatrics T I Paediatric O
Paediatric rheumatology Paediatrics T I Paediatric O
Paediatric surgery General Surgery T S Paediatric O
Physical medicine and rehabilitation None T I All Multidisciplinary
Plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery General surgery T S All O
Pulmonology Internal medicine T I Adults O
Psychiatry Internal medicine T I All T
Public Health None Neither Neither All T
Radiation Oncology None T Neither All T
Radiology None Both I All T
Sports medicine Family medicine Both Neither All Multidisciplinary
Neuroradiology Radiology Both I All Both
General surgery None T S Adults T
Urology General surgery T S All O
Vascular surgery General surgery T S All O
List of specialties recognized in the European Union and European Economic Area The European Union publishes a list of specialties recognized in the European Union, and by extension, the European Economic Area. Note that there is substantial overlap between some of the specialties and it is likely that for example "Clinical radiology" and "Radiology" refer to a large degree to the same pattern of practice across Europe.
Accident and emergency medicine
List of North American medical specialties and others In this table, as in many healthcare arenas, medical specialties are organized into the following groups:
Surgical specialties focus on manually operative and instrumental techniques to treat disease. Medical specialties that focus on the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of disease. Diagnostic specialties focus more purely on diagnosis of disorders.
Specialty Code Group Sub-specialties Focus
Allergic reactions, asthma, and the immune system
Anesthesiology AN, PAN Surgery
The operation of heart and major blood vessels of the chest.
Transfusion medicine is concerned with the transfusion of blood and
blood component, including the maintenance of a "blood bank".
Application of diagnostic techniques in medical laboratories such as assays, microscope analysis.
Dermatology, Mohs surgery
Food and nutrition
Emergency medicine EM Medicine
Emergency medical services
Hospice and palliative medicine
The initial management of emergent medical conditions, often in hospital emergency departments or the field.
The endocrine system (i.e., endocrine glands and hormones) and its diseases, including diabetes and thyroid diseases.
Family medicine FM Medicine
Continuing, comprehensive healthcare for the individual and family, integrating the biological, clinical and behavioral sciences to treat patients of all ages, sexes, organ systems, and diseases.
Gastroenterology GI Medicine
The alimentary tract
General surgery GS Surgery
Colorectal surgery Gastrointestinal surgery Transplant surgery Trauma surgery
Geriatrics IMG Medicine
Female reproductive health
The liver and biliary tract, usually a part of gastroenterology.
Infectious disease ID Medicine
Diseases caused by biological agents
Anatomy, Biochemistry, Embryology, Genetics, Pharmacology, Toxicology Care of hospitalized patients
Neurology N Medicine
Behavioral neurology Clinical neurophysiology Geriatric neurology Headache medicine Neuromuscular medicine Neurodevelopmental disabilities Neuro-oncology Neuroradiology Vascular neurology Hospice and palliative medicine Pain medicine Sleep medicine
Diseases involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems
Neurosurgery NS Surgery
Cerebrovascular Neurosurgical oncology Stereotactic and functional Spine Neurotrauma Skull base Peripheral nerve Pediatric neurosurgery
Maternal-fetal medicine Reproductive medicine Fertility medicine Gynecologic oncology
Oncology ON Medicine
Ophthalmology OPH Surgery Retina, Cornea Diseases of the visual pathways, including the eyes, brain, etc.
Oral and maxillofacial surgery Maxfacs, OMS Surgery
Oral and Craniofacial surgery (Head and neck) Facial cosmetic surgery Craniomaxillofacial trauma
Orthopedic surgery ORS Surgery Hand surgery, surgical sports medicine, adult reconstruction, spine surgery, foot and ankle, musculoskeletal oncology, orthopedic trauma surgery, pediatric orthopedic surgery Injury and disease of the musculoskeletal system.
Otorhinolaryngology, or ENT ORL, ENT Surgery Head and neck, facial cosmetic surgery, Neurotology, Laryngology Treatment of ear, nose, and throat disorders. The term head and neck surgery defines a closely related specialty that is concerned mainly with the surgical management of cancer of the same anatomical structures.
Palliative care PLM Medicine
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.
Pathology PTH Diagnostic
Understanding disease through examination of molecules, cells, tissues and organs. The term encompasses both the medical specialty that uses tissues and body fluids to obtain clinically useful information and the related scientific study of disease processes.
Pediatrics PD Medicine Children. Like internal medicine, pediatrics has many sub-specialties for specific age ranges, organ systems, disease classes, and sites of care delivery. Most sub-specialties of adult medicine have a pediatric equivalent such as pediatric cardiology, pediatric emergency medicine, 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).
Surgery Treats a wide variety of thoracic and abdominal (and sometimes urologic) diseases of childhood.
Physical medicine and rehabilitation
Concerned with functional improvement after injury, illness, or congenital disorders.
Plastic surgery PS Surgery
Cosmetic surgery Burn Microsurgery Hand surgery Craniofacial surgery
Elective cosmetic surgery as well as reconstructive surgery after traumatic or operative mutilation.
Podiatry POD Surgery
Forefoot surgery Midfoot surgery Rearfoot surgery Ankle surgery Soft tissue leg surgery
Elective podiatric surgery of the foot and ankle, lower limb diabetic wound and salvation, peripheral vascular disease limb preservation, lower limb mononeuropathy conditions. Reconstructive foot & ankle surgery.
Proctology PRO Medicine
(or Colorectal Surgery) Treats disease in the rectum, anus, and colon.
Psychiatry P Medicine
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.
The lungs and respiratory system.
Radiology R, DR Diagnostic and Therapeutic
The use of expertise in radiation in the context of medical imaging for diagnosis or image guided minimally invasive therapy. X-rays, etc.
Rheumatology RHU Medicine
Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases of the joints and other organ systems, such as arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
Surgical oncology SO Surgery
Curative and palliative surgical approaches to cancer treatment.
Thoracic surgery TS Surgery
Transplant surgery TTS Surgery
Transplantation of organs from one body to another
Urgent Care Medicine UCM Medicine
Immediate medical care offering outpatient care for the treatment of acute and chronic illness and injury
Urology U Surgery
Urinary tracts of males and females, and the male reproductive system. It is often practiced together with andrology ("men's health").
Vascular surgery VS Surgery
The peripheral blood vessels – those outside the chest (usually operated on by cardiovascular surgeons) and outside the central nervous system (treated by neurosurgery)
The mean annual salary of a medical specialist is $175,011 in the US, and $272,000 for surgeons. However, because of commodity inflation, increasing negligent costs, steep price rise of rental, the annual salary range of a medical specialist varies and is not rising as fast as other professional pay. Often, especially in the United States, physicians practice in groups of specialists within a particular medical specialty. These practice groups are often formed to help reach economies of scales in rental, insurance and staff costs as well as other benefits of practicing with other professionals and are typically governed by various legal documents. The table below details the average range of salaries for physicians of selected specialties as of July 2010. Also given in the average number of hours worked per week for full-time physicians (numbers are from 2003).
Specialty Median salary (USD) Average hours work/week
Average salary/hour (USD)
Anaesthesia 331,000 to $423,507 61
Dermatology 313,100 to $480,088 45.5 103
Emergency medicine 239,000 to $316,296 46 87
Cardiac Surgery 218,684 to $500,000 55
Family medicine 175,000 to $220,196 52.5 58
Internal medicine 184,200 to $231,691 57 58
Neurology 213,000 to $301,327 55.5 93
Ophthalmology 150,000 to $351,000 47
Orthopedic surgery 397,879 to $600,000 58
Otolaryngology 191,000 to $393,000 53.5
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 260,000 to $440,210 53
Pediatrics 160,111 to $228,750 54 69
Podiatry 170,800 to $315,150 45 80
Psychiatry 173,800 to $248,198 48 72
Urology 331,192 to $443,518 60.5
Neurological surgery 350,000 to $705,000
Plastic surgery 265,000 to $500,000
Gastroenterology 251,026 to $396,450
Pulmonology 165,000 to $365,875
According to a 2010 study, physician and surgeon median annual income was $166,400. Specialties by country Australia and New Zealand Specialty training in Australia and New Zealand is overseen by the specialty colleges:
Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Australasian College of Dermatologists Australasian College of Physical Medicine Australasian College of Podiatric Surgeons Australasian College of Sports Physicians Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine College of Intensive Care Medicine Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons (supervises training of medical practitioners specializing in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in addition to its role in the training of dentists) Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators Royal Australasian College of Physicians Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia
Specialty training in Canada is overseen by the Royal College of
Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of
Canada, and by Collège des médecins du Québec.
In Germany these doctors use the term Facharzt.
Specialty training in India is overseen by the Medical Council of
India, which is responsible for recognition of post graduate training
and by the National Board of Examinations. And education of Ayurveda
in overseen by Central Council of Indian
ABMS AMA MD and DO
AOABOS AOA DO only
ABPS AAPS MD and DO
All boards of certification now require that medical practitioners
demonstrate, by examination, continuing mastery of the core knowledge
and skills for a chosen specialty. Recertification varies by
particular specialty between every seven and every ten years.
Specialty Overall satisfaction Feeling of enough compensation Would have chosen same specialty again
Dermatologist 80% 71% 93%
Radiologist 72% 69% 82%
Oncologist 70% 55% 79%
Gastroenterologist 69% 52% 80%
Ophthalmologist 67% 55% 79%
Infectious disease/HIV physician 66% 54% 73%
Plastic surgeon 66% 53% 82%
Anesthesiologist 65% 63% 70%
Orthopedic surgeon 65% 47% 83%
Psychiatrist 65% 58% 67%
Rheumatologist 65% 53% 66%
Podiatrist 64% 51% 75%
Urologist 63% 47% 78%
Cardiologist 62% 46% 75%
Pediatrician 62% 51% 61%
Neurologist 60% 49% 63%
General surgeon 58% 44% 60%
Nephrologist 57% 45% 55%
Obstetrician/Gynecologist 57% 50% 53%
Pulmonologist 57% 45% 52%
Primary care physician 54% 48% 43%
Interdisciplinary sub-specialties of medicine, including
Occupational medicine – branch of clinical medicine that provides
health advice to organizations and individuals concerning work-related
health and safety issues and standards. See occupational safety and
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 and serves as a liaison
between and partner to the medical contingency planner, the emergency
management professional, the incident command system, government and
Specialty Registrar Federation of National Specialty Societies of Canada Society of General Internal Medicine
^ "Different Types of Doctors: Find the Specialist You Need".
webmd.com. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
^ Weisz G (Fall 2003). "The Emergence of Medical Specialization in the
Nineteenth Century". Bull Hist Med. 77 (3): 536–574.
doi:10.1353/bhm.2003.0150. PMID 14523260.
^ "Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council
of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional
qualifications". European Parliament and Council. Retrieved 19 April
^ a b c Regeringen.se – new grouping of the medical specialties
Archived April 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Becoming a Registered Dietitian". Department of Food
v t e
Specialties and subspecialties
Oral and maxillofacial surgery
Gynaecology Gynecologic oncology Maternal–fetal medicine Obstetrics Reproductive endocrinology and infertility Urogynecology
Interventional radiology Nuclear medicine
Anatomical pathology Clinical pathology Clinical chemistry Clinical immunology Cytopathology Medical microbiology Transfusion medicine
Occupational medicine Ophthalmology Oral medicine Pain management Palliative care Pediatrics
Physical medicine and rehabilitation
Medical school Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery Bachelor of Medical Sciences Master of Medicine Master of Surgery Doctor of Medicine Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine MD–PhD
Dentistry Podiatry Physiotherapy
Nanomedicine Molecular oncology Personalized medicine Veterinary medicine Physician
History of medicine