In today’s episode, Ryan and Allison talk about how to pick a medical specialty and they came up with 5 key things that are instrumental to forming your path and choosing your specialty at whichever point of your journey you may be right now. Whether you’re a premed or a medical student, it’s never too early to start thinking about what kind of doctor you want to be.
When is the best time to think about what specialty you want to take?
It’s never too early to be thinking about what specialty you want to take. The very latest that you want to arrive to that decision is 4th year of medical school since you need to apply for residency where applications open around September. Data show that many people apply to multiple specialties. Although it’s never too late too, should you decide to switch to another specialty later on. If you have an interest early on explore that early.
Always keep an open mind.
Go into every rotation with an open mind. Go through your pre-clinical years with an open mind either.
There is that possibility of switching to a different specialty because things can completely change once you get immersed into the real thing and you get actual time exposure to that certain field. The point of 3rd year rotation is to teach you about the different fields.
Try to get as much experience in the field as you can to cement in your mind if it’s the specialty for you. Experience is the best way to figure out the right fit for you.
What you see during hospital rotations is not entirely reflective of what is actually going to look like in the future. You don’t necessarily have to practice in a hospital since you can opt to work in a community setting.
Get exposure as early as you can.
Start figuring out what you might be interested in.
Some specialties are research-heavy. The earlier you get exposure to a field, the more opportunities you’re going to get.
Generally, there are 5 core clinical rotations as a 3rd year:
- Internal Medicine
- General Surgery
Don’t wait till 3rd year, get exposed as early as you can to figure out what you want to be doing
Use the process of elimination.
Sit with a checklist and go through all the specialties.
Cross things off as progress through medical school.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you want to be a surgeon or a diagnostician?
- Do you want to spend most of your time doing procedures or solving puzzles? (Consider your level of dexterity and spatial sense. Understand where your skills may lie. It’s not about a matter of being able to do it, rather, you have to be a master at your craft.)
- Do you want to take care of adults or children? (Dealing with the child’s parents can be very challenging) Med-Peds is a select residency where you will be trained to be able to practice and take care of both adults and children. Family medicine also allows you to take care of the whole family unit.
- Do you like generally well people or those who are critically ill? (Critical care medicine involves majority of your time taking care of critically ill people.)
- Are you an adrenaline junkie? (If you can handle jumping from room to room with patient crashing after patient crashing, consider being an ER physician)
- How much patient contact do you want? (If you don’t want any patient interaction, consider pathology or radiology)
Another thing to consider:
Patients you’re going to be taking care of and the emotional toll it’s going to have on you especially when dealing with cancer patients.
Find a mentor.
Having a mentor is one of the keys to success to medical school. Mentors help pave the way for you. It’s life-changing.
Benefits of having a mentor:
- Broadening your experience
- Exposing you to different facets of the field
- Providing opportunities for you to meet other people in that field
Qualities in a mentor to look for:
- Someone you look up to and you connect with
- Someone who’s passionate about the field
- Someone who has the time to devote to helping you
Specialties like Neurosurgery, ENT, and Rad-Onc expect you to have research experience in that certain specialty so find a research mentor and get involved in a project early on.
About The Academy
We talked about the Academy, and how we are REOPENING in the next week or so. We even played an amazing testimonial from one of our members. Go to http://www.jointheacademy.net to sign up to get on the list!
Links and Other Resources:
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Are you a nontraditional student? Go check out oldpremeds.org.
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