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Healthcare Insights

A comprehensive list of medical specialties and subspecialties

Medical specialties are classifications for providers based on professional medical board certifications. Board-certified specialties enable physicians to articulate their expertise and professionalism while making it easier for healthcare organizations to target staffing prospects—and giving consumers and patients insight into the competence of the person responsible for their treatment.

However, board certification doesn’t always entirely capture the scope of a provider’s practice. Plus, self-reported specialty information can be unreliable or become outdated. That’s why the Definitive Healthcare platform delivers both self-reported specialty information along a proprietary claims-based model that uses artificial intelligence, procedure claims, and distinct reference and affiliation data points to accurately determine specialties.

Definitive Healthcare tracks 46 distinct specialty categories and 128 subspecialty categories within our platform. Below, we’ve compiled lists of medical specialties and subspecialties to demonstrate the breadth of expertise across the healthcare landscape.

Top 20 medical specialties by provider count

Rank Specialty % of provider analyzed Explore dataset
Nurse 14.1% Explore
Therapy 7.6% Explore
Physician Assistant 6.1% Explore
Internal Medicine 4.5% Explore
Social Worker 4.5% Explore
Family Practice 4.5% Explore
Anesthesiology 4.20% Explore
Surgery 3.40% Explore
Psychology 3.2% Explore
10 Pediatric Medicine 2.4% Explore
11 Emergency Medicine 2.3% Explore
12 Chiropractic 2.2% Explore
13 Optometry 1.9% Explore
14 Psychiatry 1.8% Explore
15 Obstetrics/Gynecology 1.6% Explore
16 Radiology 1.6% Explore
17 Hospitalist 1.2% Explore
18 Cardiology 1.2% Explore
19 Neurology 0.8% Explore
20 Gastroenterology 0.7% Explore

Fig. 1 – Analysis of primary medical specialties from the Definitive Healthcare PhysicianView product. Data sourced from NPI Registry and Physician Compare for May 2024. Provider count derived using claims-based specialty model.

What are the top medical specialties?

Nursing is the top medical specialty, representing 14.1% of all healthcare professionals tracked in our database. In second place is Therapy, accounting for 7.6% of all healthcare professionals. Physician Assistant is the third most common specialty, with 6.1% of the total provider workforce.

For more information on medical specialties and how they have evolved, check out our Healthcare Insights on the future of the physician market and the specialties with the most growth potential.

Top 20 medical subspecialties by provider count

Rank Subspecialty % of provider analyzed Explore dataset
Nurse Practitioner 13.7% Explore
Physical Therapist 5.2% Explore
Licensed Clinical Social Worker 4.5% Explore
Clinical Psychologist 3.1% Explore
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist 2.3% Explore
Anesthesiologist 1.8% Explore
Diagnostic Radiology 1.3% Explore
Occupational Therapist 1.3% Explore
General Surgery 1.1% Explore
10 Speech Language Pathologist 1.0% Explore
11 Orthopedic Surgery 1.0% Explore
12 Cardiologist 0.9% Explore
13 Hematology/Oncology 0.4% Explore
14 Certified Nurse Midwife 0.4% Explore
15 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 0.3% Explore
16 Neurosurgery 0.2% Explore
17 Radiation Oncology 0.2% Explore
18 Perinatal Medicine 0.2% Explore
19 Medical Oncology 0.2% Explore
20 Interventional Cardiology 0.2% Explore

Fig. 2 Analysis of medical subspecialties from the Definitive Healthcare PhysicianView product. Data sourced from NPI Registry and Physician Compare for May 2024. Provider count derived using claims-based specialty model.

What are the top medical subspecialties?

Nurse practitioner is the most prevalent medical subspecialty, representing 13.7% of all healthcare professionals within our database. Nurse practitioners are nurses who leverage advanced clinical education to perform many of the same duties as physicians.

Physical therapists take second place on our list, accounting for 5.2% of the workforce. Physical therapists specialize in improving a person's ability to move and function daily. They work with a wide range of patients, from newborns to older adults.

In third place is the licensed clinical social worker category with 8.45% of total healthcare professionals. Social workers help individuals and families navigate and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional problems, usually through therapy or counseling.

How are medical specialties and subspecialties structured?

In our PhysicianView product, subspecialties are categorized within specialties based on their function. Subspecialties matching their parent specialty name are excluded here.

  • Addiction Medicine
  • Adolescent Medicine
  • Adult Medicine
  • Aerospace Medicine
  • Allergy/Immunology/Rheumatology
  • Allergy/Immunology
  • Pediatric Allergy/Immunology
  • Pediatric Rheumatology
  • Rheumatology
  • Anesthesiology
  • Anesthesiology Assistant
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • Pediatric Anesthesiology
  • Audiology
  • Cardiology
  • Cardiac Electrophysiology
  • Cardiac Surgery
  • Interventional Cardiology
  • Pediatric Cardiology
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease
  • Critical Care
  • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
  • Pediatric Critical Care
  • Dentistry
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Developmental and Behavioral Medicine
  • Pediatric Developmental and Behavioral Medicine
  • Diet/Nutrition
  • Endocrinology
  • Pediatric Endocrinology
  • Reproductive Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatric Gastroenterology
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Hematology/Oncology
  • Gynecological Oncology
  • Hematology
  • Medical Oncology
  • Oncology
  • Pediatric Oncology
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Home Health
  • Home Health Aide
  • Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Hospital Medicine
  • Infectious Disease
  • Pediatric Infectious Disease
  • Men’s Health
  • Nephrology
  • Pediatric Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • Electrodiagnostic Medicine
  • Pediatric Neurology
  • Nursing
  • Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Certified Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology
  • Maternal and Fetal Medicine
  • Optometry/Ophthalmology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Optometry
  • Otolaryngology
  • Facial Plastic Surgery
  • Pediatric Otolaryngology
  • Pain Management
  • Interventional Pain Management
  • Pathology
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Cytopathology
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Pediatric Pathology
  • Pediatric Medicine
  • Physician Assistant
  • Podiatry
  • Primary Care
  • Family Practice
  • General Practice
  • Internal Medicine
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Addiction Psychiatry
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Geriatric Psychiatry
  • Neuropsychiatry
  • Pediatric Psychiatry
  • Psychosomatic Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Pulmonology
  • Pediatric Pulmonology
  • Radiology
  • Diagnostic Radiology
  • Interventional Radiology
  • Neuroradiology
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Pediatric Radiology
  • Sleep Medicine
  • Social Work
  • Surgery
  • Colorectal Surgery
  • Foot and Ankle Surgery
  • General Surgery
  • Hand Surgery
  • Head and Neck Surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Orthopedic Spine Surgery
  • Pediatric Surgery
  • Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Surgical Oncology
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Trauma Surgery
  • Vascular Surgery
  • Therapy/Rehab
  • Chiropractic
  • Massage Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine
  • Pediatric Physical Therapy
  • Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy
  • Speech-Language Pathology
  • Sports Medicine
  • Urgent/Emergency Care
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Pediatric Emergency Medicine
  • Urology
  • Pediatric Urology
  • Women’s Health

Learn more

Healthcare Insights are developed with healthcare commercial intelligence from the Definitive Healthcare platform. Want even more insights into medical specialties? Start a free trial