Top 25 medical specialties by number of healthcare providers

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of patients experienced healthcare delays, some of which were caused by healthcare providers leaving the workforce in droves. While COVID may be with us for a very long time, the reality is that practice of healthcare has been changed forever.  Whether you are healthcare practitioner, a healthcare system executive, or someone who provides goods and services to the healthcare industry, it’s critical to understand how many healthcare providers are practicing across common medical specialties, including internal medicine physicians, physician assistants and a variety of physician subspecialties.

We analyzed more than 2.5 million healthcare providers tracked in the Definitive Healthcare PhysicianView product to identify the number of healthcare providers by medical specialty.   Nurses and providers without an identified specialty were excluded from our analysis.

The table below lists the top medical specialties by number of active healthcare providers.

Top 25 medical specialties ranked by number of providers

RankMedical specialty titleNumber of healthcare providers
1Therapy179,853
2Physician Assistant 154,216
3Internal Medicine127,065
4Family Practice 125,614
5Anesthesiology114,927
6Social Worker95,523
7Surgery95,477
8Psychology68,155
9Pediatric Medicine67,331
10Emergency Medicine62,217
11Chiropractic59,162
12Psychiatry50,646
13Optometry49,681
14Radiology46,648
15Obstetrics/Gynecology46,639
16Cardiology34,455
17Hospitalist29,389
18Neurology21,601
19Ophthalmology21,448
20Oncology18,680
21Podiatry18,547
22Gastroenterology18,466
23Pathology16,359
24Dermatology15,154
25Audiology14,525

Fig. 1.  Data is from the Definitive Healthcare PhysicianView product and sourced from proprietary research, the NPI Registry and Physician Compare. Only specialties with at least 100 providers reporting a birth year are included. Data accurate as of July 2022.

What are the most common medical specialties?

The most common medical specialties by healthcare providers were therapists (n=179,853), including subspecialty areas for physical therapy (n=127,203) and occupational therapy(n=28,293), followed by physician assistants (n=157,216) and internal medicine (n=127,065).

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