7+ Year Member
Jan 1, 2010
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  1. Medical Student
I'm currently in my 3rd year of school, and prior to two months ago, I never considered going into Psychiatry... at all. Mainly, my focus was on either Family Medicine or Internal Medicine, perhaps because these are areas I am more familiar with. Well, two months ago I started my core clinical rotation in Psychiatry, and surprisingly, I really enjoyed it! Since then, I have frequently found myself considering a career in Psychiatry, or maybe even Psych-FM or Psych-IM. Unfortunately, my experience has been limited to short-term inpatient care in a general hospital, so I am unfamiliar with other areas of Psychiatry. I could look into doing another rotation in Psychiatry at another facility to broaden my experience, but the problem is that the rest of my third year is full of core rotations in other specialties and the earliest I could see Psychiatry again would be in fourth year, when I am supposed to be applying for residency. What can I do in the meantime to find out if I am truly interested in Psychiatry?


Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Nov 24, 2005
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I was in a similar situation. I was fairly set on going into Internal Medicine until I did my psych rotation, and I found it was a very interesting specialty. I was really on the fence for awhile between IM and psych, but I found that when I was on other rotations, I was immensely interested in the psychiatric diagnoses of the patients and less interested in their medical problems (though these were still thought provoking).

I found that getting more psych rotations in was challenging in the 3rd year due to other core requirements. Since you are interested in both psych and IM (and FM), I would suggest scheduling rotations in both early in your 4th year; maybe a psych consult or psych ER rotation, and maybe a cardiology, nephrology, or ICU month. This way you get more exposure to the depth of both specialties. Maybe you will fall in love with pulmonary medicine, who knows.

Regarding residency applications, I think that you can apply to both IM and psych and decide later which one you want to pursue. And there are people who apply and interview in more than one specialty. The tricky aspect of applying to more than one specialty is probably getting letters specific to each specialty, and possibly writing two different personal statements(though they could probably be similar).

Hopefully this partly answers an aspect of your question.


10+ Year Member
Mar 15, 2007
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  1. Attending Physician
I'm an MS3 and I can definitely see where you are coming from. For me, though, I consider what (based on my clerkship experiences) I would be happiest getting up in the morning to go do. It's psych. I did some shadowing in an outpatient clinic first year, that can be an easy way to get exposure to the clinic side of things (and they would probably be glad to have you there). Otherwise I think you should just do a month or more early in fourth year after you have applied and change if you realize you made a big mistake.

As a side note I wouldn't pursue Psych/IM or Psych/FM. Most people who do combined programs end up only practicing one specialty (based on discussions with dual-boarded physicians) and I'm not sure that all that extra training makes them significantly better Psychiatrists or Internal Medicine doctors. It's a really expensive way to hedge your bets.
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