Veteran readers, I know this is a topic you guys are very familiar with. Please bear with me. =)
I’ve seen several hits in my stat logs from people looking for the ROAD specialties. For many students new to medicine, this might be something that you’re hearing for the first time.
The ROAD specialties are specialties that are generally considered “lifestyle” specialties in medicine. Lifestyle specialties are those that offer good pay with minimum work hours, low patient loads, above average working conditions, and typically low on-call time.
Historically, the ROAD specialties are Radiology, Opthalmology, Anesthesiology, and Dermatology. More recently, the mnemonic has been revised to E-ROAD or ADORE to include Emergency Medicine.
Anesthesiology is on the high-end of work hours, while specialties such as Pathology aren’t included. Expect the lifestyle specialties to change slowly over time as working conditions, hours, and pay fluctuate.
Other specialties that I consider to be lifestyle specialties are radiation-oncology, radiology (which is included in ROAD, but diagnostic only), pathology (mentioned above, but not included in E-ROAD), and reproductive endocrinology. Watch out, though, as reproductive endocrinology is an OB/GYN fellowship. If you can stomach the traditional OB/GYN residency and manage to match into repro-endo, your life should improve dramatically.
One specialty of special mention is Orthopedic Surgery. Despite the fact that it is insanely competitive, do not believe for a minute that it falls into the lifestyle category. The work hours are long, the work is manually intense, but the pay is great. I think the fascination with orthopedic surgery stems from manual labor with drills and saws coupled with an athletic or “appealing” build seen in most residents.
One last thing I wanted to mention is Anesthesiology. I’ve always heard the work hours and free time is great. Some of the most up-to-date data we have says otherwise. Anesthesiologists are actually working on-par with surgeons. I’m looking forward to seeing some more recent data on work hours before my argument can hold any weight. The students are still pouring into Anesthesiology as of 2006.