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Have you ever been confused when people talk
about certain medical specialties being competitive? Me too. In this video, we’ll go over the official
statistics and explore which are the most competitive and desired specialties. What’s going on guys, Dr. Jubbal, For those of you who don’t know, I graduated
medical school in 2017 and matched into plastic surgery. To learn more about my story, visit my vlog
channel – link in the description below. There’s a tremendous amount of misinformation
regarding which medical specialties are competitive. Everyone wants to say their specialty is competitive
– and they’re not wrong. Getting into any residency is a challenging
ordeal. That being said, some specialties are more
competitive and harder to get into than others. I understand the pride involved, but whether
or not your specialty is considered competitive does not make you a good or bad doctor. It simply says which specialties are hardest to get into. And knowing which specialties are hardest
to get into can be very useful information for pre-meds and medical students. Again, all specialties are competitive, and
if your specialty is ranked lower than you would like, that’s not a judgement or an attack
on you in any way. This is simply the data. Period. You can find links to the data in the description. First, let’s cover the methodologies that I used. I gathered all data from the official source
– the NRMP, or the National Resident Matching Program, over the last few years. I manually inputted all data into a spreadsheet
that I’ve linked to in the description for you to view. There’s always someone complaining about
imperfect methodologies – look, every analysis has its limitations. I urge you to view the spreadsheet and play
with the data to see for yourself. Before we dive in, it’s important to note
that ophthalmology and urology are not included in the regular match, and therefore their
data was not included in this analysis. That being said, if you look up their average
Step scores and match rates, it’s clear neither would have been in the top 5 anyway. I used data for U.S. applicants only, as incorporating
international medical graduates, or IMGs, would muddy the analysis. I looked beyond just the match rate, as that
would be a terribly inaccurate marker of competitiveness. And now you’re probably confused. If it has a low match rate, then it must be
more competitive, right? Well, not exactly. Specialties are self-selecting to a certain degree. I recently saw a video by someone who went
only off of match rates, and in doing so, they suggested that general surgery and psychiatry
were the third most competitive specialties. Anyone who is in medical school or residency
will tell you that’s certainly not the case. For example, in plastic surgery, applicants
use general surgery as their backup in case they don’t get into plastics. Look at it this way – if you’re not a competitive
applicant, you’re not going to apply to something like plastic surgery or neurosurgery or dermatology. But lots of people want to do surgery, since surgery
is freakin awesome, and general surgery is the most commonly applied to. General surgery is an excellent field, it’s tremendously broad, extremely diverse, leaves options open to subspecialize after, and it’s also the least competitive of the
surgical specialties. Therefore it has a very high number of applicants and a
low match rate. This is not a judgement against general surgery in any way. This is just an explanation for the low
match rate in general surgery. In order to overcome the shortcomings of looking
at match rate alone, I examined six categories of data: average match rate, Step 1 score,
Step 2CK score, number of publications, percentage of matriculants that were AOA, and percentage
of applicants from a top 40 NIH funded medical school. AOA, or the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical
Society, is an honor society in medicine – what you need to know for the purposes of this
analysis is that being AOA is a good indicator of being a high performing student. Obviously it’s not perfect, as some schools
don’t have it. For example, mine didn’t, and therefore
I wasn’t AOA, despite being at the top of my class. Top 40 NIH funded medical schools are usually
more competitive, meaning students that got into these schools were, on average, stronger
students. Emphasis on average. After compiling the data, I ranked each specialty
in each of the six categories. This was a point-based ranking system. Each category was weighed equally and points
were awarded directly in relation to the ranking. Meaning, there are 22 specialties, and the
lowest ranking in that category would receive 1 point and the top ranking in that category
would receive 22 points. I summed up the points across each category
and looked at the total points to determine which specialties were most competitive. Now’s your chanc e to hedge your bets. Dermatology came in first, trailed closely
by plastic surgery in second. Neurosurgery was third, followed by orthopedic
surgery fourth and then ENT in fifth. And honestly, I’m not surprised by these results – and that’s a good sign. If you’re a medical student or a resident,
you probably aren’t surprised either. But many people have heard of this ROAD to success – ROAD stands for Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anesthesiology, and Dermatology. If you’re surprised that the other three
ROAD specialties aren’t included in the top 5, don’t be. Radiology, Ophtho, and Anesthesia are not nearly
as competitive as the top 5. ROAD specialties indicate those that have
a great lifestyle – NOT necessarily those which are the most competitive. An interesting pattern I noticed was that
the top 5 were all very well paying specialties. Neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery are almost
always the top 2 best paid specialties, regardless of the survey. Plastic surgery is also up there, but it’s
important to note that cosmetic practices make much more than reconstructive practices. Dermatologists don’t make as much as the
other top 4 specialties, all of which are surgical, and that makes sense – surgeons
put in more work and do more challenging procedures, but dermatologists have an excellent lifestyle that’s
hard to beat. So the conclusion of all this? It’s quite clear that the most competitive
specialties are highly correlated with either excellent pay or excellent lifestyle. Correlation is not causation, but I think
it’s safe to say that there’s more than simple correlation going on here. Exploring this finding further is a topic for another
video. Was this analysis perfect? Absolutely not – but then again, every analysis has
limitations. That being said, this is the most comprehensive
one I’ve seen. So what do you think of the results? Are you surprised, or is this what you were
expecting? Leave a comment down below – I’d love
to hear your thoughts. If you’re aiming for a highly competitive
specialty, check out the all-new multimedia courses on Each course was crafted by our team of top
doctors. The Pre-Med Roadmap will help you get accepted
to a Top 40 NIH medical school, and the interview courses for medical school or residency are
hands down the most comprehensive and high-yield guides on the interviews that you’ll find
anywhere. Even better, both are constantly being updated
and improved with new exclusive videos, written content, and private group mentorship access. They’re on sale right now for a limited
time. Link in the description. Thank you all so much for watching. If you learned something, give this video
a thumbs up. Make sure you’re subscribed and hit the
notification bell so you don’t miss our new videos. And I’ll see you in that next one.

24 comments on “5 HARDEST SPECIALTIES to Get Into

  1. dermatology. . .wtf? i'd have htought that was SUPER low. the others make sense, and i thought anesthesiologist or cardiologist would have replaced dermatology. still wtfing over this #1 spot.

  2. I already made my mind to become a dermatologist so thanks for this video this is going to motivate me to work harder

  3. I think you did a good job with this list although I would have put Neurosurgery before Plastics since there are far fewer institutions that accept more than one neurosurgery resident a year. Still though, good list. And people always forget how hard Dermatology is to get into. Still, a nice life for those that can get it.

  4. Here is the truth, I'm getting ready to graduate from medical school soon and those who get into these specialties are one of two kinds of people: 1) Those who absolutely love medicine and it's all they do and 2) Those who have crazy discipline beyond what is capable of most people. If you love medicine and the specialty you're aiming for, then it will just come natural to you (there are exceptions like test taking skills, english as a first language, and other stuff that can prevent you from getting into these fields). For the 99% of others who are pursuing medicine for the money and status (do not be fooled, most people are doing it for this reason, not saying they don't LIKE medicine, but most people do not LOVE medicine) you will need discipline. One of my classmates is a top performer, will admit he does not LOVE medicine, but that he works to get the grades and scores he does. This man eats the same meal, EVERY-SINGLE-DAY… He works out and studies like a beast too… He has sacrificed relationships, friends and even family to try and get into ortho and believe me has scores and stats to get into any program in the nation. On the other hand, there is a guy in my class that absolutely loves medicine and all he does is think about it. He isn't even American, he is from Egypt, but came here, learned english, and is incredibly passionate about it. While we watch sports, play video games, youtube and all our other activities for fun, THIS GUY FREAKING READS ROBIN'S PATHOLOGY AND VARIOUS OTHER BOOKS I NEVER EVEN TOUCHED DURING MEDICAL SCHOOL. His passion is inspiring but there isn't a single thing in this life I'm that passionate about, and if you're like me, you'll find yourself pretty bummed out when around these kinds of people in medical school. I'm the third type of person, I like medicine (DO NOT LOVE IT), and I'm not that disciplined to be quite honest (more than the average person obviously to get into and finish medical school without delays). I'm a very type B person and I'm in a sea of type A people. One thing this gives me an advantage in is interacting with people and being a standout kind of guy in my program (voted class president and other stuff). On wards, I kill it. I have nothing but glowing recommendations and write ups from my time on the wards. I write this to really say that it's out there to get it. If you want to be a plastic surgeon, ortho surg, derm, neuro, you can get it! But don't kill yourself for something you are not that passionate about, it's not worth the money I promise you…

  5. I know this mail has been some time ago, but rings generally true even internationally. Ophthalmology eg caused many UK junior docs to join the army, as the access to speciality training was easier. Having done most specialities and have a Royal British diploma in both Surgery and EM (ER), and eg. having been a Neurosurgical Registrar over two continents etc. I have some legitimacy in commenting. The thing is, what you want to do in your 20s, is not always what you want to do in your 30s, 40s and so on. Most of medics are pluripotential, so always leave a sensible reserve option if option one do not work out. Medicine is a wonderfully diverse direction. You never need to treat a patient, talk to one, or you can see them all the time, see them 3D, work with their most secretive organs, see them only skin deep, or only talk…You can decide to work long hours or less, earnings being variable, but you should never live under the bread line. Etc. etc.

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