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Healthgrades for ProfessionalsFastest Growing Medical Specialties

Sports Medicine, Pediatric Anesthesiology, and Interventional Cardiology Lead the Surge in Specialized Medical Fields

In a landscape shaped by an aging population, technological advancements, and increased healthcare needs, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has identified the fastest-growing medical specialties in the United States from 2016 to 2021. The report not only highlights the specialties gaining the most physicians but also provides insights into gender distribution and geographic accessibility.

HCN Insightful Intel

  • Career Development: If you’re considering a specialty change or advising medical students, pay attention to fields like Sports Medicine and Pediatric Anesthesiology, which are experiencing rapid growth.
  • Resource Allocation: For those in healthcare administration, these growth trends could inform decisions on resource allocation, including the hiring of specialists.
  • Continuing Education: Given the technological advancements driving some of these specialties, consider targeted continuing education courses to stay up-to-date.
  • Patient Care: Be aware of the specialties that are growing quickly when referring patients; it may affect wait times and accessibility.
  • Burnout Prevention: For specialties like Critical Care Medicine, where burnout rates are high, consider proactive measures for stress management and mental health.
Key Points:
  • Sports Medicine: Grew by 42.5% with 3,208 specialists as of 2021; 72% are male.
  • Pediatric Anesthesiology: Saw a 37% increase, with 2,843 specialists; 51% are female.
  • Interventional Cardiology: Expanded by 33%, totaling 4,736 specialists; 92% are male.
  • Critical Care Medicine: Grew by 30%, with a current total of 14,159 specialists.
  • Pain Medicine and Pain Management: Increased by 25%, with 6,240 active practitioners.

According to the CDC, some 50 million adults in the US live with chronic pain, putting pain management specialists in high demand.

Additional Points:
  • Geographic accessibility varies, with 71% of children living within 25 miles of a pediatric anesthesiologist.
  • There is a projected shortfall of about 8,000 critical care specialists, exacerbated by high burnout rates.
  • Vascular and Interventional Radiology, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Neuroradiology, and Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology also showed significant growth.

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