Which Medical Specialty is the Most Difficult to Enter?

There is often a lot of pride involved, but the fact that your specialty is considered competitive or not does not make you a good or bad doctor. It simply says which specialties are the hardest to get into. Knowing which specialties are more difficult to enter can be very useful information for medical and pre-med students. All specialties are competitive, and if your specialty is ranked lower than you would like, it's not a judgment at all, it's simply what the data says. Our comprehensive analysis shows that Plastic Surgery is the most competitive specialty, with a total of 120 points.

This specialty ranks quite high in all but one of our data categories, placing first, second or third place in all categories except in the NIH Top 40, where it places ninth overall. Plastic surgeons focus on soft tissues, such as skin, muscle and fat, rather than bones, found on the territory of orthopedic surgeons. The word plastic comes from the Greek word “plastikos “, which means “to mold”, which is a reference to how plastic surgery reshapes and manipulates tissues. If you are precise, meticulous and have an obsession for detail, plastic surgery may be a good choice for you. The pay is more variable than other specialties, but you'll still have a pretty good lifestyle since the compensation is above average.

Learn more about the specialty of plastic surgery and if it is the right one for you. Dermatology takes a leap down to second place with 116 points. This specialty is strong in each of our data categories, with a slightly lower ranking for the match rate. Dermatologists manage skin, hair and nail diseases, both medically and procedurally. A dermatologist can identify and treat more than 3000 conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis and skin cancer.

Learn more about the specialty of dermatology and if it is the right one for you. Neurosurgery ranks third with 114 points. It ranks quite high in all six categories. This specialty is tied for third with ENT also with 114 points. Neurosurgery deals with CNS (Central Nervous System) and PNS (Peripheral Nervous System) surgeries.

Neurosurgeons can touch, change and augment the central nervous system in real time. Neurosurgery is one of the few specialties that can really save people's lives. Although it can be an exciting race, at one point you may be called to the hospital to save someone's life. It is a fascinating specialty that satisfies the intellectually curious but has one of the most challenging lifestyles of any specialty. Learn more about the specialty of neurosurgery and if it is right for you. In fourth place is ENT (Otorhinolaryngology), with 114 points.

This specialty ranks fairly high for all categories, with a high rank for the top 40 NIH, CK Step 2 score and match rate. This includes the vocal cords and larynx, nose and sinuses, ears and endocrinology including thyroid and parathyroid as well as head and neck cancers. Learn more about the otolaryngologist (ENT) specialty and if it is right for you. Orthopedic surgery ranks fifth with 104 total points. It ranks quite high in all six categories except in the NIH Top 40 where orthopedic surgery occupies the middle rank of 22 specialties.

Orthopedic surgery focuses on the musculoskeletal system which includes fractures and broken bones as well as surgeries involving tendons, ligaments and nerve or vascular injuries. There is a notable satisfaction in being an orthopedic surgeon since orthopedics usually has good results. Most patients experience substantial improvement in their condition after treatment. Like many surgical specialties orthopedic surgery can have tough hours but the downside is that orthopedic surgeons are consistently the best-compensated doctors number 1 or number 2.Learn more about the orthopedic surgery specialty and if it's right for you. AOA or Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society is an honor society in medicine which indicates that being an AOA member is a good indicator of being a high-achieving student. Obviously it's not perfect since some schools don't have it but top 40 NIH-funded medical schools tend to be more competitive meaning that students who entered these schools were on average stronger students. ROAD stands for Radiology Ophthalmology Anesthesiology and Dermatology which are highly paid specialties with Neurosurgery and Orthopedic Surgery almost always being number 1 or number 2 regardless of survey results. I'm not surprised by these results and it's a good sign if you're a medical student or resident you're probably not surprised either however many people have heard of PATH to success but don't rely solely on match rates since general surgery and psychiatry were suggested as third most competitive specialties when they're certainly not according to medical school or residency students. This isn't a judgment against general surgery this is simply an explanation for their low match rate so look at data in spreadsheet to see how it compares once you examine several categories of data.

Theodore Eflin
Theodore Eflin

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