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Five Happiest Types of Physicians

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Medical specialty is considered one of the most respected professions since it gives you the privilege of saving lives and helping others. It uniquely impacts human life and gives unparalleled job satisfaction. People pursuing a career as a physician have to undergo a long and intense journey.

Multiple factors contribute towards a satisfactory doctor lifestyle, including day-to-day lifestyle, working hours, work stress, remuneration, etc. In the healthcare industry, even the best doctors can sometimes negatively impact their work-life balance.

A medical professional often works under a lot of pressure, which eventually takes a toll on their mental and physical well-being. Regardless, some physicians still maintain their happiness quotient with a balance in their work and life.

Students planning to pursue a career in medicine can choose specialties with the best lifestyle and decide the desired career path. After all, every specialty requires time and resources to master.

No doubt that 2020 has been undeniably a tough year with the pandemic shocking us to the core and killing greater than a quarter-million Americans; we have been struggling to find a way into the bizarre new normal. Healthcare professionals have been continuously battling the pandemic, working long hours with a constant threat to virus exposure, which is now a new norm.

Ideally, it was no different even before the pandemic. Surveys are stating that more physicians burnt-out every year even before the pandemic. Medscape report suggested that between 29% and 54% of physicians experienced burnout symptoms in 2019.

Medscape conducted these surveys to determine if the physicians were happy at work or outside of work and what makes them happy. These studies also determine the way doctors balance their work and life.

Happiness at Work

Efficiency in any field leads to work satisfaction. Being a healthcare professional is a busy job, and some specialties offer an excellent work-life balance. The best specialties typically include regular working hours, reasonable compensation, and ideal social life.

According to Medscape’s report, the least rated happy specialties are 24%, and the highest being 43%. Specialties happiest at work are dermatology, ophthalmology, allergy, and immunology. Orthopedic surgery, psychiatry, and pulmonology shared a three-way tie.

The survey also stated that physicians’ happiness is probably decreasing due to increased burnout due to more charting and administrative work with less interaction time with patients. The professional lifestyle has become overwhelming and responsible for all the specialties’ happiness and growth in work hours, earnings, overtime predictability, on-call duties, etc.

Some specialties that are said to be happier than others include:

1.  Dermatology

Dermatology is a specialty that focuses on issues associated with skin, hair, nails, mouth, etc. Dermatologists generally work for a fixed number of hours, have interactions and build a long-term relationship with patients.

Dermatologists can work in hospitals and established offices or set up their medical practice to work with flexibility.

2.  Ophthalmology

An ophthalmologist helps in diagnosing and treating diseases associated with the eye. This field offers reasonable control over working hours and is deemed less stressful.

One can set up their medical practice to work flexible hours.

3.  Allergy and Immunology

These physicians specialize in diagnosing and treating children and adults with allergies, asthma, and various immune-related disorders. These physicians undergo training to treat all age groups, which gives them a vast functional field.

An allergist may perform hospital consults, work fixed hours with good remuneration packages, and consider this specialty the least stressful.

4.  Psychiatry

Professionals in psychiatry get a good remuneration package, and their volunteer work is much appreciated as well. People with extroverted personalities and fond of helping others could have a satisfying career in psychiatry. This field offers a wide variety of opportunities and a shorter workweek.

5.  Pediatrics

Becoming a pediatrician can be most satisfying and fulfilling if you love kids. A pediatrician cares for and treats infants and kids and focuses on their physical, emotional, and social health. The only caveat is the working hours, which can go out of control at times.

Happy Doctors Outside of Work

The Medscape reports also surveyed various factors that resulted in a doctor’s happiness. The rheumatologist’s happiness outside of work accounts to be the same as dermatologists at work. It signifies there has been an impact diversely on the final result shown in the survey by Medscape.


Below is the list of specialties that are the happiest outside of work:

2020 – Outside of Work2019 – Outside of Work
General SurgeryOtolaryngology
Public Health and Preventive MedicinesDiabetes and Endocrinology
Allergy and ImmunologyPediatrics
OrthopedicsGeneral Surgery
UrologyCritical Care
OphthalmologyEmergency Medicine

The survey has also focused on facts other than just work and vacation. Their habits, marital status, relationship with the spouse, work time, etc., sums up to be a lavish lifestyle even if it means buying a better car model.

Physicians, who felt happiest outside of their work, were from emergency medicine, plastic surgery, urology, ENT, dermatology, and rheumatology. There are many reasons to account, such as the shift work that allows them to clock in and out, get good remuneration packages, fixed working hours in some specialties, etc., which enables them to participate in social settings and other leisurely activities.

What Makes Doctors Happier at Work?

Happiness depends on various factors outside of work. At work, happiness is directly proportional to the amount of time spent with the patients and wages, and inversely proportional to the administrative work. The patient population is one other reason. Healthy patients are treated with anticipated rapid recovery, whereas unhealthy and difficult patients may require intensive treatments and may take a longer time to recover.

Factors That Affect Work-Life Balance Of A Doctor

Choosing a specialty that offers satisfaction and a good work-life balance could be nerve-racking. A medical professional can have a lot of work pressure that may impact their mental and physical state.

While exploring the happiest doctor specialties, you can consider some of the following factors:

1.  Personality Alignment

Picking a specialty that best suits your personality may directly impact the service you provide and the happiness quotient. If you work efficiently in your chosen specialty, there may be enhanced job satisfaction and an aligned vision for your future.

2.  Financial Aspect

Having a good bank balance may also, in part, provide job satisfaction. Specialties that offer good remuneration also influence the quality of the overall lifestyle.

One should note that a specialty that offers good monetary benefits doesn’t necessarily need to provide emotional and physical well-being. Some specialties provide financial stability but don’t guarantee a happiness quotient at work.

3.  Balancing Skill

Some specialties offer a good work-life balance, including regular working hours, good compensation, and social life. Dermatology, Pathology, and family medicine are some of the specialties considered to be less stressful.

4.  Long-Term Plan

You must carefully consider the positives and negatives before choosing a specialty and work towards achieving the goal. A lot of commitment and dedication is needed to stick with the specialty you have selected to ensure job satisfaction long-term.

Bottom Line

Medicine is a unique profession where physicians don stethoscope, look after people’s health, help them recover, and make them live again. Rather than looking at other’s happiness, it would be wise to judge yourself.

Balancing work and life is very important to influence your happiness. It is definitively hard to say which specialty will provide you with happiness and good paychecks. Hence, weigh all the factors and ask yourself if serving and impacting people’s lives with positiveness will give you immense pleasure and long-term happiness or best compensation, lifestyle, and other leisure.

There are many physicians with indigenous desire to touch others’ lives deeply and positively impact their lives.

2 thoughts on “Five Happiest Types of Physicians”

  1. I was expecting to see “retired” as an option on here! I would imagine the burnout rate is higher than most professions at times, though the importance of the work is never in question as with a lot of office jobs.

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