when and how did you decided on your specialty?

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by MSV MD 2B, May 1, 2004.

  1. MSV MD 2B

    MSV MD 2B Senior Member
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    Just curious to know. I am a m1 and have a list of thinsg that interest me but thta is about it.
     
  2. Leukocyte

    Leukocyte Senior Member
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    Too early for this now. I think you need to at least go through your cores in MS-3 to have a genuine idea. And that's what MS-4 electives are for, to "experience" your "options" before you come to a final decision.

    For now, study hard for a high GPA, and USMLE to keep your options open and wide.
     
  3. Jaded Soul

    Jaded Soul Proloxil > Zoloft
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    Absolutely. Do the best you can do in your courses and on Step 1 to keep all your options open. While you don't have to know until it's time to apply, the sooner you figure it out, the more you can do to help your residency application.
     
  4. MSV MD 2B

    MSV MD 2B Senior Member
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    i know this but i am curious to know how people come to know what specialty they want to go into.
     
  5. IndyXRT

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    I don't think there is any one way to decide what to go into. If there is a field that you are particularly interested in, there is usually some way to spend a month or so between MS1 and MS2 with a doctor in that field (sometimes you can even pick up some money for this). It will give you a look at what that field is like. However, until you truly experience a field (i.e. have to show up when they show up and do what they do insead of just follow along) in MS3 and MS4, it's difficult to know. During MS3, you can experience the basic fields, and also get a feel for what other fields do (talk to your consultants). Then you can pick some electives in MS4 to further explore your top choices. If you're interested in a very competitive field (or think you might be), you could try some research in that area during summer and MS2 (research never hurts come residency application time). I know it's a hard choice. Best of luck!

    Edit: to answer your actual question, I went through MS3 and didn't like anything I tried. I found that I enjoyed caring for cancer patients, though, so I tried radiation oncology the first month of MS4 and enjoyed it.
     
  6. rory1215

    rory1215 Junior Member
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    You can generally identify your interests like this:

    Do you prefer a surgical or non-surgical field?

    Do you wish to specialize or generalize?

    Then you may consider personality traits of given field, salary, lifestyle issues, prestige, whatever else makes you tick...

    As the posts above have mentioned, it may be difficult to decide until after your clinical rotations. Try to talk to as many people in as many different fields as possible so you can get a sense of where you fit.

    Good luck and have fun with the process!
     
  7. roja

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    I didn't decide until the absolute end of my 3rd year. I had intended to do Pedi Rheum all through med school until I did peds. Realized I REALLY didn't want to do 3 years of peds. So, you never really know. I also knew I would never work in an ER, and yet here I am. So, just realize you may not know so approach your first years as a true learning experience. Just try and learn as much as you can, not to do well on exams but to be a good doctor. Keep an open mind and realize that even if you don't want to be a surgeon, you can learn alot about patient management. It is all related.
     
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  8. mig26x

    mig26x Senior Member
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    im a third year student that would like IM. I think it was easier for me to know which one i didnt want to do. For example before entering 3rd year i knew Surgery, OB/Gyn and Psych. would be in the bottom of my list as rotations to like and i knew before hand that i didnt/dont want to match in those 3. Cant see myself doing surgery all day/all week. cant see myself as an Ob/Gyn or Psych. IM i love it, especially a fellowship in Nephro or cardio.
     
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  9. margaritaboy

    margaritaboy Senior Member
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    I chose a specialty based on a balance between what I thought I would find professionally satisfying, and what I thought would allow me to have a good life outside of my career (flexible schedule and ample time for family). But I like Roja, I didn't make the decision until the last minute, mostly because there are a couple of specialties that would fit the bill for me.

    I might suggest a book, "How to Choose a Medical Specialty," by Anita D. Taylor. It summarizes the characteristics and training regimens of all the specialties (even some I didn't know existed). It also characterizes the people who go into those specialties. There's no magic in this book, it just gave me some food for thought and was a good general reference for different specialties.

    PM me if you want my copy.
     
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  10. Whisker Barrel Cortex

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    When I first got into medical school, I was thinking about neurology a little bit, but was really unsure. I did research involving functional MRI in med school and thought it was interesting stuff.

    When I entered 3rd year, I was open to everything. I liked internal medicine a lot. Then I did surgery and the idea of being a surgeon entered my mind. Throughout every rotation, I noted that I loved going down to radiology and going over studies with the radiologists and found the field intriguing. Then I did a 2 week elective in March third year in radiology and loved it. I started picturing myself in the place of the radiology residents and attendings (instead of what I did as medical student which is minimal in radiology). I was heavily leaning towards the field and my 4th year elective (done in August) clinched it for me. Amazing techology, great atmosphere, cool procedures, and none of the frustrating parts of patient care. Haven't regretted my decision at all.
     
  11. jakstat33

    jakstat33 Senior Member
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    You may also find any of these other books useful:

    Iserson's Getting into a Residency: A Guide for Medical Students, Sixth Edition by Kenneth V. Iserson
    Life After Medical School: Thirty-Two Doctors Describe How They Shaped Their Medical Careers by Leonard Laster
    First Aid for the Match (First Aid Series) by Tao Le, et al
     
  12. banner

    banner Senior Member
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    Another good book if you can find it with realistic and pragmatic career advice:
    Medical Student Survival Guide by Steven Polk


    I chose Radiology after spending a year in a lab and not missing the direct patient care aspect of medicine. It allows me to work with my medical knowledge base and still have a direct impact on patient's lives without having to deal with all the social work aspects of medicine, which I'm not cut out for.

    Pathology was a close second, but I liked imaging better than slides and staining.

    Too sum up my career choice, I felt that Radiology was the field in which I could have the most fun.
     
  13. ecf1975do

    ecf1975do Senior Member
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    i highly recommend the book, "the ultimate guide to choosing a medical specialty" by brian freeman, MD. every specialty is covered in depth, written entirely by residents. there is also alot of information of how to maximize your chances for a successful match. it helped me alot during the match this past year. that book by taylor is usless. she isnt even a doctor, yet an authority on medical specialties???
     
  14. roja

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    I don't know if I would make a decision based on descriptions of what a speciality is like. Its a good general description but you won't really know until you start goign through it. For example, I thought I would HATE GYN, and feel okay about OB. Hated OB, and I like GYN. Thought I would love Peds (was planning to do peds rheum) and absolutely hated it.

    so books are not a bad guidline to open up ideas of specialties you might not have thoughta bout but the only real way to figure it out is to start experiencing different fields, thus third and fourth year.

    You can also start goign to different student grouups. They usually have guest speakers and can give you a good idea of what these specialists do.
     
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  15. doc05

    doc05 2K Member
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    excellent point. For example, IM seems interesting based on book-learning, but it's not until you hit the wards that you realize how mind-numbingly boring it really is.
     
  16. roja

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    :D No kidding. I *LOVE* reading and studying immunology, but IM is like pulling teeth for me.


    I have close friends that are in IM and they HATE the ED, which I love.

    So, I just tell people, keep an open mind and learn everything you can.
     
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  17. Annette

    Annette gainfully employed
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    Residency is not real life (or so I keep telling myself!). It is going to be different in practice. Love OB? Yeah, sure, but can you afford the $100,000+ malpractice insurance premiums?

    Try talking with physicians practicing in the community. They can give you a better prespective of life beyond medschool/res. and what the different fields might hold for you.
     
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  18. supercut

    supercut Senior Member
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    I came to med school thinking ER or surgery. Fortuantely, my med school was very welcoming to any student that wanted to come hang around in the ED. It's very common for students to get to help the residents do stuff (even if you are M1 and not on any rotation) Almost any student can also go to the OR and scrub any case, as long as there are no students who are actually on the rotation covering the case.

    So the first time I srubbed a case (trauma case) as a M1 I was pretty sure surgery was for me. By the time I was half way through my M3 surgery rotation, I had decided.

    It's not to early at all to start to give thought to what area of medicine you might like. Go to various interest group meetings at your school. Seek opportunities to shadow attendings in various specialties. Even your gross anatomy class will help guide you. If you like it and like doing the dissection, that will probably indicate that you'll like a specialty that is procedureal.

    Just don't spend too much time shadowing. You'll have to study a lot more than you ever have before.
     
  19. MSV MD 2B

    MSV MD 2B Senior Member
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    Thanks for your help!I actually have a summer fellowship in child spychiatry and am thinking about the triple board programs but it is just a thought. i am still trying to read and develop interests and keep my mind open. I also know that some things on my list like radiation oncology, are really competitive so I would have to have more information like my board scores before i make that decision. right now i don't look too comeptitive but i am trying not to rule anything out that really interestes me.

    Thanks again!
     

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