Medical practitioners are some of the most overworked people in the world. This is unsurprising because they are at the forefront of public health services. There is always someone who needs medical attention, whether in the form of a simple check-up to or a vital surgery for the treatment of a life-threatening condition. Some physicians work long hours well past their shifts to treat patients with complex conditions. Some even sacrifice their holidays for work. In short, being a doctor can be quite stressful.
Nevertheless, there are specialties in the medical world that are less stressful than others. And while the meaning of “less stressful” differs for each person, most medical practitioners would say that a low-stress specialty would be one that had a reasonable and controllable schedule, lower chances of experiencing workplace burnout, little on-call time, and no shifts on weekends.
Pathology involves diagnosing diseases by doing laboratory analysis of tissues and bodily fluids like blood and urine. Many consider this as an undemanding specialty because of its controllable hours. The work environment is also quiet and relaxed. Unlike ER doctors, pathologists do not experience sudden medical emergencies or unpredictable situations. Also, residency (graduate medical training) of this field takes only 4 years. But keep in mind that pathology is a field rooted in academics and research. Those who dislike paperwork and scientific study may find this specialty challenging.
This specialty is similar to pathology in that it focuses on diagnoses and analyses. However, in the case of radiology, diagnosis and treatment involve using x-rays and other imaging technology. A radiologist’s main duty is interpreting medical images and detecting suspicious cells and abnormalities in the body. They also check for fractures and dislocation of bones.
Radiologists keep reasonable and fixed hours and experience little patient contact. The level of pressure and urgency in their line of work is also low, creating a calm working environment. The only significant downside is that radiologists are often exposed to radiation, which may increase their risk of getting cancer.
Ophthalmology specializes in eye and vision care. This branch of medicine requires a 3-year residency. The work of an ophthalmologist includes basic eye care, prescribing glasses and contact lenses, and providing medical and surgical eye treatment. While this specialty does involve complex microsurgery, it isn’t as grueling as, say, pancreatectomy and bariatric bypass. The hours you have to put in are also fairly reasonable. Plus, patients you handle in this field are almost never in any critical condition, resulting to low tension and pressure in the workplace.
This specialty focuses less on medical matters and more on research. Psychiatry involves the study of human behavioral and mental processes and its associated disorders. To be a psychiatrist, you need to finish a residency of 4 years. This is considered a low-stress specialty because the hours are undemanding and the work does not involve surgery or any intense medical procedure. Instead, psychiatrists talk and listen to patients with mental illnesses in private, one-on-one sessions.
Dermatology is a specialty that studies the human skin. Dermatologists undergo a 3-year residency before becoming professionals. These doctors check and treat skin diseases and disorders ranging from the serious ones like skin cancer and lupus to the milder acne and moles. Those working in dermatology often do not handle patients with life-threatening conditions. As such, the stress levels in the workplace are very low. Also, work hours are stable, giving way for a healthy work-life balance.
Family Medicine is a discipline that provides primary and comprehensive health care for people of all genders and ages. It is also called general practice because this field is not limited to a specific organ or disease. As the field is not focused on a specific area, the work involved is often not too intensive or exhausting. Aspiring doctors who love interacting with people can enjoy this patient-centered specialty.
Family physicians conduct routine check-ups, screening tests, counseling, and immunization to a wide range of people. And while they receive work calls outside of their regular hours, it is never for extreme emergency cases. This specialty also offers great work-life balance with its flexible schedules.
If you are still thinking of what medical field to specialize in, consider those mentioned above. Choosing one of these low-stress specialties can give you the opportunity to live a more stress-free life and to pursue other passions. But keep in mind that while these medical specialties are the least stressful, this doesn’t mean that the work involved should be taken lightly.
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