Medical students have more than just studying to worry about. During medical school, you have the tough choice of deciding which specialty to practice. Some specialties only require residency training, but if you choose to subspecialize, you will also have fellowship training. If you are still undecided about which specialty to choose, check out the five most popular specialties in the 2020 Match1

1. Internal Medicine - In the 2020 Match, there were over 13,000 applicants for internal medicine programs. Internal medicine allows physicians to practice as internists, or to go on and subspecialize. A 2019 study1 found the average annual salary for internal medicine residents is $58,600. 

2. Family Medicine - There were over 7,175 applicants for family medicine in 20201. Family medicine physicians often work as primary care providers. According to the AAMC 2, there will be a primary care shortage by 2032. The average salary for family medicine residents is $57,400.  

3. Pediatrics - In 20201, there were 3,728 applicants for pediatrics. Pediatrics, like internal medicine, also offers a variety of subspecialties to consider. The average salary for pediatric residents is $60,400. 

4. Emergency Medicine - There were a total of 3,3231 applicants for emergency medicine in 2020. The average salary of emergency medicine residents is $57,800. 

5. Psychiatry - Psychiatry had a total of 2,7981 applicants in 2020. Out of the 5 top specialties for applicants, psychiatry offers the highest average salary at $60,700. 

How to Choose the Right Specialty

If you are still unsure of which specialty is right for you, ask yourself some questions like, "what do I like to do?" Do you prefer to be hands-on with patients, prefer to teach, or do you prefer research? What does the job forecast in your geographic area look like? Are you more interested in a work/life balance or earning potential?

Ask to shadow the specialty or specialties that interest you! 

There is no better way to learn more about the specialty than to shadow. You will be able to observe the day-to-day life, as well as ask questions. 

Find a mentor 

Mentors are not just for residents and fellows looking for job opportunities or research. Mentors can also help medical students on their journey by providing insight and answering questions. If your school does not offer mentors, reach out to your advising dean, or other leadership.