Would any of you mind expounding on what you like about the new and ever growing field/specialty?
Not at all!!!
I guess the first thing is, I love studying genetics. I found this out in high school. I find it so fascinating how such minute changes in DNA can cause such dramatic health conditions and malformation of human form.
As for genetics as a field of medicine, I should let you know that I applied to med school for the express purpose of going into clinical genetics. So I was never a hard-core "I want to be a doctor" person. That being said, I really enjoyed med school, although some parts more than others! I don't like taking care of really sick patients (eg, ICU, ER) and I don't particularly like doing procedures either. I don't want a high-stress, fast-paced job. I want to have an office and see patients in consultation and spend a lot of time with each patient. That being said, I did consider psychiatry for a brief time.
I like the academic side of medicine, and I definitely want to be at an academic center. I really want to teach and do research too. People usually assume that in clinical genetics you work in a lab. Not so. You need to understand the principles behind the tests you order but you don't actually do the lab work. As for research, some MD geneticists have their own research lab with grad students and techs, but most don't. Most MD geneticists do clinical research, like publishing case reports and the like.
Lifestyle is great. On par with radiology and pathology I would say. But even less call! The pay is less though. I suppose it depends where you are, but most Canadian geneticists are on salary. I've been told by several female geneticists that med gen is a great career for women who want families.
As for the daily work in med gen, the patients are always so interesting! Unlike many medical specialties where you see the same problems all the time (eg, CAD for cardiologists, asthma for respirologists, etc), every case is unique in genetics. The range of patient problems is also very wide. In one day you might see a child with developmental delay, a middle-aged person with a neurodegenerative disease, a pregnant couple with a prenatally diagnosed chromosome abnormality in the fetus, and a young woman concerned about breast cancer in the family.
There is a lot of counselling involved. You have to have great communication skills to be a good geneticists.
Sometimes you have to deliver very bad news. Also, there is not much you can do for your patients in terms of treatment or cure. Some sticky ethical issues can come up. These are some of the downsides of med gen. But there are difficult situations in every area of medicine.
These are the main things I love about med gen. I'd be happy to elaborate on anything about the field!