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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
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Asia Bradlee
7 Pre-Med

25 Types of Doctors, What They Do, & What They Earn

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What’s Covered:


Trying to figure out what kind of doctor to become? To help you get a better idea of what to specialize in, we put together this list to help you gain a deeper understanding of the different kinds of doctors and what they do in each specialty, as well as the average salary.


When Do Doctors Specialize?


Once you’re in medical school, you usually explore specialties beginning your third year. You can choose to clerk for doctors in different areas, such as general surgery, gynecology, internal medicine, and orthopedics. When you apply for residency, you select your specialty, and you can specialize again once you’re a resident.


The path to medical school isn’t easy, and it requires taking many prerequisite courses in college, studying for the MCAT, and getting involved in relevant extracurriculars. Learn more about how to become a doctor and the steps you should take as early as high school to streamline your journey. 


What Are the Different Types of Medical Degrees?


There are two different types of medical degrees: a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).


A Doctor of Medicine focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of disease. An MD must attend med schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).


A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) takes a more holistic approach to treating and preventing disease. This includes factors like natural healing and the patient’s entire ecosystem, such as environment, nutrition, etc. DO programs must be accredited by the The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA).


Both kinds of degrees can specialize in a certain area.


What Are the Different Types of Doctors?


Here’s a list of some popular and lesser-known medical specialties. Keep in mind that there are many, many more!


Allergy and Immunology

Median Salary: $180,205


Allergists/Immunologists focus on disorders that involve the immune system and how to evaluate, diagnose, and treat them. Some of these disorders include food allergies, asthma, eczema, autoimmune diseases, and more.



Median Salary: $303,558


Anesthesiologists are the doctors that “put you to sleep” during surgeries. They are responsible for pain relief and maintenance, as well as keeping the patient stable during and after a medical procedure. Anesthesiologists should have a knowledge of what drugs may interact with anesthetic agents and whether the patient has any conditions that could complicate surgery.



Median Salary: $279,615


Cardiologists focus on diseases of the cardiovascular system, or the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. These diseases include things like ischemic heart disease, pericarditis, congenital heart disease, and hypertension. This is more of a high-tech specialty, with more sophisticated and non-invasive diagnosis and treatment options. 



Median Salary: $253,907


Dermatologists are trained to treat and diagnose benign and malignant skin disorders, in addition to issues with hair and nails, the mouth, and more. They’re also taught to diagnose and treat things like moles, tumors of the skin, melanomas, allergic skin disorders, and acne.


Some dermatologists also perform a variety of surgical and cosmetic procedures, like soft tissue fillers, liposuction, anti-aging treatments, and skin reconstruction.


Emergency medicine

Median Salary: $247,802


Emergency physicians work in the emergency department and must be prepared to make decisions and take action quickly to prevent death or further disability to the patient. This is a high-pressure and fast-paced role with a need for broad medical knowledge and strong clinical and technical skills.



Median Salary: $201,743


Endocrinologists focus on the internal glands of the body, such as the adrenal or thyroid glands. They’ll see patients who have issues with thyroid dysfunction, pituitary glands, sodium and water balance, and much more. Much of their work also includes treating and dealing with obese patients, as it can be a contributing factor in endocrine diseases and Type 2 diabetes.


Family medicine

Median Salary: $193,342


Family medicine is a broad specialty focused on the complete health of the family. These physicians treat all ages and are trained in different areas like pediatrics, geriatrics, internal medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology. 


These physicians must have unique skills that allow them to provide such a broad scope of care and be an advocate for their patient and their entire family.


Internal medicine

Median Salary: $202,585


Internalists are trained to treat and diagnose common and complex diseases in adolescents, adults, and the elderly. These diseases can affect any part of the body and range from a simple ear infection to cancer. 


Their primary role is health maintenance, disease screening, and diagnosis and care, as well as being a resource to other areas, such as obstetrics or surgery.


Medical/Clinical genetics

Median Salary: $129,448


A medical geneticist focuses on genetic disorders and birth defects. Their role is to use advanced testing to provide genetic counseling, prevention and therapeutic interventions. As a geneticist, you will help the patient and their family understand and cope with the disorder. You will also act as the middleman between scientists making positive advancements in genetic disorder treatment and the patients that can benefit from the treatment.



Median Salary: $228,148


A neurologist treats conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, nervous system, and muscles. Common reasons to see a neurologist include Parkinson’s, Alzehimer’s disease, strokes, and headaches. Neurology is also closely linked with psychiatry.

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Nuclear medicine

Median Salary: $341,321


Nuclear medicine specialists use properties of radioactive atoms and molecules to research, diagnose, and treat disease. Coronary artery disease, cancer, and blood clots are some examples of different issues that nuclear medicine specialists might diagnose or treat. This specialty requires knowledge of the biologic effects of radiation and how to use radiation detection and imaging.


Obstetrics and gynecology

Median Salary: $233,756


The obstetrics and gynecology specialty focuses on medical and surgical care for women. Obstetrics focuses on childbirth and the care of women before, during, and after. Gynecology focuses on the care and treatment of the female reproductive system and breasts.


An Ob-Gyn can act as a consultant for other physicians or as the main physician whom patients see regularly.



Median Salary: $221,438


Ophthalmology is the study of the eye and visual system. Opthamologists can treat patients for any issues that affect the structure of the eye, the orbit, or the visual pathways. They can also prescribe glasses and contact lenses.


Orthopedic Surgeon

Median Salary: $380,313


Orthopedic surgeons focus on preserving and restoring the form and function of the spine and extremities through surgical and physical means.


Orthopedic surgeons work with patients who have musculoskeletal issues that stem from injuries, injections, diseases, tmors, and more. This is another specialty where technology makes a huge difference, particularly with microsurgery and improved methods of joint replacements.



Median Salary: $217,630


Pathologists specialize in the study of disease, specifically the causes of certain diseases and how and why they affect the body the way they do. Pathologists tend to do a lot of lab work and tests on body fluids, secretions, tissues and cells in order to further their knowledge of disease.



Median Salary: $155,104


Pediatricians work with children and focus on their physical, emotional, and social health. Their work involves trying to prevent any behavioral or developmental problems that can stem from a child’s physical and social environment. 


In addition to trying to prevent any health or behavioral issues, they’ll also help diagnose and treat any diseases affecting the child.


Plastic Surgery

Median Salary: $273,884


Plastic surgeons specialize in repairing, reconstructing, or replacing any physical defects in form or function of the body. Cosmetic plastic surgery to improve someone’s look or appearance is a large part of the specialty.


In addition to cosmetic plastic surgery, plastic surgeons are vital to help with skin grafts or tissue transfer that can result from injury or complex wounds.


Physical medicine and rehabilitation

Median Salary: $239,710


This specialty can also be referred to as rehabilitation medicine and focuses on working with patients with physical disabilities. Physiatrists approach treatment from a holistic perspective, considering both the physical and psychological aspects. They also serve as the coordinator for the patient’s broader rehab team, which can include other physicians like psychiatrists and orthopedic surgeons.


Preventive medicine

Median Salary: $166,074


The preventative medicine specialty includes a variety of different areas that all work together to prevent disease, disability, and premature death, and improve the overall health of the population. These areas include epidemiology, biostatistics, health services management, environmental factors, occupational health, and more. 


Preventative medicine practitioners may work in places like hospitals, family practices, health agencies, government, and can be involved in public health or public policy.



Median Salary: $213,975


Psychiatrists prevent, diagnose, and treat mental, behavior, addictive, and emotional disorders. These can include disorders like anxiety, substance-abuse, schizophrenia, and more. Psychiatrists rely on discussion to help treat many of these disorders, often in an individual or group setting. Pharmacological treatments may also be used for patients.


Radiation oncology

Median Salary: $333,680


This specialty focuses on treating cancer, with a specific emphasis on ionising radiation. Treatment involving beam radiotherapy, radioactive explanations, chemotherapy, hypothermia, and more can be used.



Median Salary: $307,835


Radiologists work to diagnose and treat diseases using different forms of imaging, including X-rays, ultrasound, and MRI. They can specialize in a variety of different areas, such as pediatric imaging or mammography.


Sleep Medicine

Median Salary: $150,000


Physicians who specialize in sleep medicine concentrate on the diagnosis and management of sleep-related conditions, such as insomnia, narcolepsy, or sleep apnea.



Median Salary: $292,134


General surgeons must have broad knowledge of all the different diseases and conditions that might need surgery. The most common areas that surgeons operate on are the breasts, neck, peripheral vasculature, abdomen, and skin. Rarely will they perform neurologic, thoracic, urologic, or orthopedic surgery, but they should have the knowledge to refer patients to these specific surgeons. 



Median Salary: $346,211


Urologists study the urinary tract in both males and females and can also perform surgery. Diagnostic procedures are an important skill for urologists to master, along with having strong surgical skills, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination.


What are the Best Schools for Pre-Med?


It’s important to keep in mind that pre-med is a track, not a major. This means that you’ll take a set of prerequisite courses for medical school, which include many STEM classes.


As a result, most pre-med students major in a science; biology or chemistry tend to be popular. But, you can also major in unrelated subjects, such as music or Spanish. Learn more about the best majors for pre-meds in this blog post.


While there is no pre-med major, some colleges are known for having stellar pre-med advising, access to medical opportunities, strong STEM courses, and high medical school acceptance rates. 


The top 10 schools for pre-med are:


  1. Harvard University
  2. Duke University
  3. University of Pennsylvania
  4. Washington University in St. Louis
  5. Rice University
  6. Stanford University
  7. Northwestern University
  8. Brown University
  9. Amherst College
  10. Case Western Reserve University


View more top pre-med schools and see your chances of acceptance.


To learn more about these schools and search for more that meet your med school goals, sign up for a free CollegeVine account. You can research college with strong pre-med programs, build your school list, and see your real admissions chances at hundreds of different schools.


Short Bio
Asia is a graduate of Tulane University where she studied English and Public Health. She's held multiple writing positions and has experience writing about everything from furniture to higher education to nutrition and exercise.