Career happiness is an important factor to evaluate when exploring your career options. Moods and attitudes from work frequently spill over into your personal life and can affect your health and relationships.‌ A 2016 Medscape Survey evaluating Physician burnout and bias found that certain specialties report higher levels of happiness and health than do others in medicine.

Top 5 Medical Specialties For Career Happiness

Top Medical Specialties for Physician Happiness*

1. Dermatology

Dermatologists hold the distinction for being the happiest Physicians with 39% of those surveyed feeling “very or extremely happy” in their work. This specialty is also notable for having the most physically fit Physicians. Dermatologists reported both the highest activity and lowest obesity levels amongst all the medical specialties.

2. Ophthalmology

Ophthalmologists closely resemble Dermatologists in regards to happiness levels with 38% reporting elevated feelings of happiness in their work. Like Dermatologists, they also are some of the fittest Physicians with many reporting some of the highest exercise and lowest obesity levels in medicine.

3. Psychiatry

Psychiatrists appear to assist both themselves and their patients in achieving happiness. This specialty’s Physicians report the third highest levels of satisfaction regarding their career. 37% of Psychiatrists surveyed reported elevated levels of happiness on the job.

4. Nephrology

Caring for renal patients is a satisfying pursuit with 36% of Nephrologists reporting elevated feelings of happiness about their work. Nephrologists also hold the distinction of having the highest levels of reported happiness outside of the workplace. 68% of practicing Nephrologists surveyed reported feeling “very or extremely happy” at home, which was higher than any other specialty.

5. Pulmonary

Pulmonologists round out the top 5 happiest specialists list with 33% reporting happiness at work. Despite these elevated levels of happiness, this specialty has a less positive finding regarding their health. Unlike other specialists ranked in the top 5, Pulmonologists were noted as having the highest percentage of overweight Physicians. 51% of those surveyed reported being overweight or obese, making them the most overweight medical specialty overall in medicine

The Flip Side:

Medical Specialties With the Lowest Physician Happiness Levels*

1. Internal Medicine

Internists have the dubious honor of being the least happiest practicing Physicians. Only 24 % of Internists surveyed reported being happy at work.

2. Critical Care

Increased burnout rates and high stress levels contribute to low happiness rates amongst Intensivists both at home and at work. Intensivists report a 25% happiness rate at work and the lowest levels of happiness at home amongst the medical specialties.

3. Rheumatology

Caring for a patient population that frequently suffers from chronic, debilitating pain appears to contribute to lower levels of happiness in Rheumatology. Only 26% of Rheumatologists report being "very happy" about their work.