Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Guide to Choosing a Specialty

It is that time a year again when thousands of medical students begin the residency application process for their chosen specialty.  Years of medical school and rotations have been spent trying to evaluate and pick which specialty is right for you and your abilities.  In having done this myself and having seen many medical students go through the process I have a few recommendations on deciding and realizing which specialty is The One for you. This process is a lot like dating.  Therefore you must kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince/princess.

1. Surgical or non-surgical (Are you good with procedures? do you like them?)
2. Which rotations in your third year of medical school did you like the most?
3. What is the lifestyle you want to lead?
4. Which specialty makes you want to read everything there is about it?
5. Which rotation made you most excited to get up and go to the hospital (even at 4:30 am)?
6. Which kind of attendings do you respect and wish to be just like?
7. Disregard the lives of the residents (residency is temporary: at least that is what I keep telling myself).
8.  Make your decision on the life of the attending and what it is like.
9. Who is happiest?
10. What kind of money do you want to make?
11. Where do you want to live/work (salaries differ based on areas of the country)?
12. Know that once you begin it his hard to switch (Think Carefully).
13. Find a Mentor in your field of interest.
14. Private practice vs hospital based.
15. Scrubs vs street wear (Obviously the most important..haha! Will dictate your HOSPITALstyle).

Choosing a specialty is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life and career as a doctor.  Take time to work in whichever specialty you are interested in. Befriend a resident and an attending in that field with whom you can have open and candid discussions about the positives and negatives of their specialty. Deciding early can put you at an advantage in the application process. It is true that you must kiss a lot of frogs, but it is worth it when you find the specialty you were meant to be in. Feel free to email me with any questions at HOSPITALstyle@gmail.com. Best of Luck!

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