Whether you are a first year medical student, you are just filling in your applications, or you’re in your final year and you are ready to choose, choosing your preferred specialty is a huge decision. Of course, you can change your mind and switch specialties later on, but you want to get it right the first time if you can.How do you pick what you want to practice for the rest of your career?
Understanding the specialty that you want to take on is important because you need to choose something that’s the best fit for you. You don’t want to overlook some important factors that could make the difference between whether you go into neurosurgery or internal medicine. Understanding everything that makes up your decision is going to be difficult for you, but we’ve got some points down here that will help you to know what you should know about choosing a medical specialty.
- Think about your current skill set. You have to go beyond thinking about how much money you want to make by the time you get to attending level. What are you good at? What lifestyle are you looking for? Are you looking for the obsessive surgery lifestyle where you live and breathe surgery in hospital? Or you’re looking for something more family friendly such as family medicine? Many people want to choose to go into orthopedics, for example, but if you don’t have the successful surgical skills, you may want to choose something different. You don’t have to be elbow deep in somebody’s abdomen to be a successful doctor.
- Get as much clinical experience in your preferred specialty as possible. Shadowing and attending physicians in your field as much as you can is important. The best way to do this is through an externship where you join a company or a hospital outside of your studies. Your schedule can be difficult, but you could also join specialty clubs at your school and take advantage of any lectures or talks. Gaining exposure to different different disciplines will help.
- Always have a backup. If you always wanted to go into surgery but that’s not a possibility for you, then have a backup specialty that you’d be happy to go into. You should apply for more than 20 programs if possible, and in the most competitive fields you should definitely open up your horizons. Everything from your tescos to your experience will count in your letters when you are applying, so make sure that you have those down pat.
- Make your application authentic. There are going to be a lot of medical students just like you who are clamoring for the right positions. You can have all of the ambition and the good grades in the world, but it’s sometimes going to come down to a personality match. Making sure that your application is strictly all about you; it could cinch it for you and that’s what you want to get – the magical YES.