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What are a Physicians Medicine Choices?

Doctors and Medical Specialties
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Compared to 20 years ago, a physician's medicine choices are more varied, covering wide variety of specialties and subspecialties. The choices range from primary care, such as internal medicine or family medicine, to specialties that branch off of those areas and others. In all, there are 24 recognized areas of medicine where physicians can be certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties. However, within those 24 board-certified areas are nearly 150 additional subspecialty areas of medicine. Here are the 24 areas of medicine recognized for medical certification by the ABMS:

  • Allergy and Immunology
  • Anesthesiology
  • Colon and Rectal Surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Medical Genetics
  • Neurological Surgery
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pathology
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Neurology
  • Radiology
  • Surgery
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Urology

Physicians Medicine Choices Leads to Shortages

Apparently, too many choices can be a bad thing. At least in the opinion of some medical experts. The variety of fields for graduating medical students to choose is one of the reasons for a current shortage of doctors in many other fields. For example, the American Academy of Family Physicians says there is a significant shortage in family physicians, which matches shortages in other primary care fields. Between 1997 and 2008, the number of physicians choosing family medicine fell by nearly 53 percent, according to AAFP calculations. Physicians medicine choices in so many other medical fields was just one of the reasons for the shortage of primary care and other physicians. Other reasons include:

  • Not enough graduating doctors. The Institute of Medicine and other federal experts predicted a glut of physicians in the 1970s would continue for decades. That led to a cap on medical school classes. Between 1980 and 2003, according to the American Medical Association, the population of the country increased by 31 percent. But the number of graduating doctors remained the same.
  • Primary care fields fall out of favor. The reasons vary, according to experts, but it's clear that fewer medical school graduates are choosing primary care. Some of the reasons cited include lower salaries in primary care fields, issues with healthcare reimbursement rates and a perception that primary care offered less excitement than other fields.

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