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How did you figure out your specialty?

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by Scooby Doo, Mar 4, 2002.

  1. Scooby Doo

    Scooby Doo IEatShavedPussyCats 10+ Year Member

    Jul 9, 2001
    I will be starting medical school in the Fall and I am just wondering how you guys came about to choose what you wanted to go into?

    Was it through the rotations? Or was it just a lifelong fascination with a certain aspect of the body/psyche.
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  3. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    hSDN Member
    I'll move this over to the Rotations and Residencies Forum where it might get more action. :D
  4. cardigan

    cardigan Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 29, 2001
    East Coast
    don't worry yet scooby! i didn't decide on a specialty until april of my third year of med school. if you're undecided (or even if you have a specific specialty interest) my advice is to approach everything with an open mind. you may be surprised by what you like and don't like, and it will make all of med school more interesting.

    best of luck!
  5. Whisker Barrel Cortex

    Whisker Barrel Cortex 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 10, 2001
    When I started med school, I had the idea that I would like to go into something like FP, internal medicine, or neurology. When third year came along, I actually enjoyed my internal medicine rotations inpatient aspect but not the outpatient clinic. I did not like FP and was bored out of my mind during this rotation. Since I had heard good things about the lifestyle of radiology, I took an elective in radiology in March of my 3rd year. I loved it. The better lifestyle was a factor, but not the major factor. I really enjoyed the diversity of diagnostic radiology and the job of being a consultant to other physicians. Needless to say, by the end of that rotation I had decided on pursuing a residency in this field and am extremely happy that I have found what I love. It did take a little thought and adjusting to the fact that I would not deal with patients directly very often. However, I felt that the aspects that I liked about radiology outweighed this factor.
  6. johnM

    johnM Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Bethesda, MD
    I'm in the same boat as Scooby, I'm going to med school next year, and I'm not really sure what I want to do. Of course I will go in open-minded about the different fields, but I understand that you pretty much have to decide by the end of thrid year. Doesn't this make it hard for those who are interested in specialties where you don't get a whole lot of contact until 4th year electives (like optho, derm, etc.). And I keep hearing that for very competitive fields, you almost need to do some research... how are you supposed to get opthaomology research done in time for all this, if you don't even find out that you really like it until 4th year??
  7. Voxel

    Voxel Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Nov 5, 2001
    I think the wisest thing would be to start shadowing different docs across all specialties including the competitive specialties, NOW. This includes plastics, derm, ENT, ortho, optho, urology, rads, ER, radiation Oncology, and medical subspecialties like Cardiology and GI. Get a feel for what it's like to do their job. This way if you find something you like early you can persue this and be as competitive as possible. So, if you come to a point in 3rd year where you say, I don't want to do derm anymore, I want to do FP, you'll be sure there's a spot for you in FP. The reason it is important to try every field including the not so competitive ones, is that you cannot always predict swings in competitiveness or popularity. However for the forseable future the above listed specialties should remain competitive and I have a hunch that anesthesia will increase in popularity over the next five years, just how much remains to be seen.
  8. dr.evil

    dr.evil Senior Member Physician 7+ Year Member

    Oct 30, 2001
    Well, when I was 2 years old I saw my dad butcher a pig and I thought "hey, that's for me!". So surgery, here I come!

    Bad attempt at humor. Really, I thought Pediatrics was for me when I started med school. Well it wasn't. So I tried Neurosurgery cuz I liked Neuroscience in 2nd year. Not for me either. So I thought maybe orthopedic surgery b/c I was an athlete and they're supposed to be the jocks. Well, that wasn't it either (no medicine and a lot of them weren't jocks). So I just tried to be open minded during 3rd year and figure out where I fit in the most and was the most comfortable. General Surgery it was. My 4th year sub-I's just reinforced that this was definitely the right decision for me.

    So as you can see, it's kind of trial and error. Some of my classmates switched the specialty they were going into in late December of 4th year! That's pushing it but you'll figure out what general area interests you the most then you will whittle away at a more defined specialty of choice.

    During 1st year, our school had us choose a few different specialties and we were able to spend a half day per week with those specialties. This was really beneficial. I chose no surgery specialties buy got stuck with a cardiothoracic surgeon for one month. This kind of opened my eyes to surgery and made me rethink my choices. That surgeon was awesome and treated me like I was somebody and held my hand during that time. It was great.

    Anyway, you can do any type of research in the first 2 years in areas that you think might be interesting. This can be of benefit to you. I always tell people to only do research if they really want to and not just to look good on a residency application (but not everyone listens b/c med students are OCD :p ).
  9. LaCirujana

    LaCirujana Smoking Gun 7+ Year Member

    Feb 23, 2002
    Leaving chaos in my wake
    Uh, I didn't like anything else. :p

    I started med school thinking I wanted to do EM, ortho, or peds. Then I did some shadowing and found I wasn't too keen on any of them.

    I actually was getting a little worried when it was more than half-way through 3rd year and I had hated/not really liked very much everything I had done so far. Then I started my surgery rotation and really, really liked it. <img border="0" alt="[Lovey]" title="" src="graemlins/lovey.gif" /> A couple of chief residents and attendings also noticed that I was interested and were very encouraging, gave me more responsibility, and allowed me to do more procedures, which helped to seal the deal. So general surgery it is. Most of my friends and classmates think I'm nuts (they're all going into anesthesia, EM, and radiology), but I couldn't be more satisfied.

    To make a long answer even longer, don't stress, do as others have recommended and try to shadow docs in specialties you think you might be interested in, especially if they are competitive ones or non-core specialties.
  10. NuMD97

    NuMD97 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 1, 2002
    New York

    Did you ever consider interventional radiology? You'd get the best of both worlds then: patient contact and diagnostic radiology under one specialty "roof". I'm just curious if you considered that, to satisfy both desires. Just a thought.

  11. Whisker Barrel Cortex

    Whisker Barrel Cortex 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 10, 2001
    Yeah, I have considered interventional radiology. The training for interventional is as a fellowship after diagnostic radiology, so it is still an option for me. I really enjoy the diagnostic, CT, MRI reading part of radiology as well as the cool procedures and patient contact in interventional. So I figure I will make the decision during residency when I get to try this stuff out first hand.

    A couple things about interventional make me think twice. The amount of patient interaction is still not too significant. A patient gets referred to you, you talk to them for a couple minutes at most, then do the procedure. They usually don't even remember your name because the referring physician follows up with them, not you. The other factor is that this seems to negate some of the lifestyle factors of radiology, usually have call more often as an attending and have to come in instead of read films from home.

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