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Things to Consider When Choosing a Specialty

If you think that trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life is difficulty after finishing up a year of core clinical clerkships, I hear you. I was in that boat and so were many of my classmates this time last year. It’s a difficult choice, but upon reflection on what you want in life makes it a little easier to find something that will give you joy for some time. Here are some things to ruminate on while deciding on a specialty! 1. Observe the life of residents and attendings and talk to them too: If you’re interested in a specialty, a great way to figure out if it’s the one for you is to see what training is like from the eyes of a resident and to see what the daily life will be from the eyes of an attending. 2. Explore practice settings: Are you an academic person or a private practice person? Do you want to be in a solo or group practice? Understanding how you want to practice later on can help you shape your career goals and make sure that your intended specialty has what you’re looking for. For instance, it doesn’t make too much sense to go into anesthesiology if you want a primarily outpatient practice when the trend in this field is moving towards more hospital connections. 3. Ask yourself what in medicine would make you willing to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning for: Being able to pinpoint what sort of pathology you’re interested in or even the patient population you want to serve can help narrow down specialty choices. 4. Understand what you want out of this life: Let’s face it, lifestyle matters in terms of hours, time for family and personal things, etc. Know what is important for you outside of medicine and figure out if your intended specialty will enable you to carve time out for those intangibles. 5. Change can always come later: If you do end up going into one specialty and find yourself dreadfully unhappy, there are ways to switch! It’s not the end of the world! I have heard of an attending who was first in internal medicine and then switched to OB/GYN and maternal-fetal medicine and another attending who practiced as a nephrologist and then became a dermatologist. The sky is the limit if you have the desire and the time! 

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