What to consider while choosing a medical specialty?

  • Which specialty’s intellectual content do you like?
    1. Wanting to know more for a particular specialty
    2. Strike a match for one’s self, one’s working in that specialty and the content of that specialty
  • What type of doctor do you want to become?
    1. Generalist: Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Gynecologists
      1. Broad medical knowledge
      2. Long term continuous relationship with the patient
      3. Like variety of activities and broad scope of work
      4. Have high tolerance levels for undiagnosed problems with multiple symptoms
    2. Specialist: Cardiologists, Urologists, and Neurologists
      1. Narrow scope of professional expertise
      2. Action-oriented curative activities and patient interactions
      3. Technology-oriented
      4. Less long term involvement in patients lives
    3. Supportive: Radiology, Pathology, Anesthesiology
      1. All are hospital based services
      2. Behind-the-scene doctors
      3. Little/no patient interaction
  • How much do you want to interact with the patient?
    1. Rule out specialties which do not meet your demands
    2. Lots of patient interaction but little/no physical contact: Psychiatry, Ophthalmology etc.
    3. Short contact: Emergency medicine, Anesthesiology
  • What type of patients do you want to interact with?
    1. Angry, anxious Patients: Emergency medicine, Surgery etc.
    2. Demanding: Pediatrics etc .
  • What are social expectations? Which branch is more prestigious?
    1. Do not consider these factors in your decision
    2. Remember, every type of doctor has an important role in the big picture of medicine, and the idea that one specialty garners more respect and prestige than another is really just a matter of personal opinion.
  • What kind of lifestyle do you want to lead?
    1. Primary care or generalists offers long working hours, more paperwork, lower reimbursements and overnight calls
    2. Specialists offer higher remunerations and reasonable working hours
    3. c. Lifestyle specialties: Radiology, Dermatology, Emergency medicine, Anesthesiology, Pathology, Ophthalmology, Physical medicine and Neurology
  • How many years can you spend for residency training?
    1. This should have a limited influence on your choice
    2. In general, the shortest programs (3 years) are fields of primary care, internal medicine, pediatrics, family practice, and certain emergency medicine programs.
    3. 4 to 5 years of residency training are necessary for careers in anesthesiology, pathology, dermatology, and radiology
    4. Surgical specialties require much longer training, anywhere from 5 to 8 years.
  • How difficult is it to get into a particular specialty?
    1. Take an honest assessment of your academic competitiveness
    2. Take into account the number of seats available
    3. Be flexible and think of a back-up specialty
  • How much is the earning potential in a particular specialty?
    1. It should be a less influential variable
    2. No amount of income can make up for a lifetime of miserable days in the wrong specialty
  • What are the future job predictions for a specialty?
    1. It should be a less influential variable
    2. Students should pay little heed to its current or projected state of job opportunities.

One Thought on “What to consider while choosing a medical specialty?

  1. Mayrui on June 5, 2012 at 9:53 am said:

    Good info.

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