How to choose a medical specialty Choosing a specialty is the most difficult decision of your carrier. Medicine is a profession that requires overwhelming sacrifices and commitments. Think back to the day when you decided on a career in medicine whether you were a college student, trying to pick between medicine, engineering or public policy, it was one of the life’s biggest decisions. Now another challenge comes around when you have to decide your specialty. In a future doctor’s life, there are some decisions as important and nerves wracking as deciding on a specialty graduating doctors have the freedom to choose from a wide variety of medical fields. Medical specialties generally can be divided into two main groups: 1) Primary care (long term comprehensive care) 2) Secondary \tertiary care (referral based care) Primary care field includes generalist specialties like family practice, internal medicine, and pediatrics. More specialized areas such as gastroenterology, dermatology and cardiothoracic surgery fall under the secondary category. There is no enough time to explore every specialty. Every physician practices different types of medicine. Even within the same specialties, no two doctors are alike. How much money will you make? How much time will you have for your family? Will you be burned out and miserable or with love what you do? This is how you should go about choosing a medical specialty. An important part of the decision-making process is hearing from other doctors and learning what drew them to their field, what they love about it and what wish they did differently. Over the course of medical college, most students change their preferred specialty. Where do we go from here and how can we create a system to decide on the best-suited specialty for ourselves. Check Here: Medical Specialty Quiz What factors are important to decide on a specialty? Compensation should not be a primary or even secondary factor in making your decision other more important factors to consider include what type of relationship and interactions you want to have with your patients, the work-life balance you desire, how much or little you enjoy performing the procedure, the of patients you generally work with and who your colleagues will be. Asking some questions to yourself will help you choose your specialty. Does the specialty excites and captivate you? Or can you imagine doing this for the rest of your life? Often times, medical students fixate on rare particularly exciting in their field. What organ system or clinical questions do you find the most exciting and stimulating? Your excitement helps you to develop an interest in your selected field. What are your areas of scientific and clinical interest? If you enjoy pharmacology and physiology, anesthesia may be a good choice for you. If you like anatomy, then consider a surgical specialty. If you are fascinated by the brain and how it works, then neurology or neurosurgery are appropriate considerations. Assuming you plan to practice clinically, do you want direct patient care or indirect patient care? Specialties like radiology or pathology would be included in indirect patient care. Direct patient care would include most everything else. Assuming what you want to have direct patient, determine whether you would like a primarily surgical practice, where the operating room is the focus of your day to day or primarily medical practice, where procedures are relatively rare. Surgical specialty examples would include general surgery, orthopedic surgery and the like. Medical specialty includes internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, family medicine, and other less procedurally focused specialties. On average, these medical specialties emphasize patient relationships and clinical reasoning, but will often require a high degree of patience. You can also opt for a middle ground, like urology, dermatology OB/GYN, or anesthesia that allows for a mix of both. When answering this question the level of patient contact and continuity that you prefer matters. Do you enjoy talking to patients and forming a long-term relationship? And if so internal and family medicine provide ample opportunity or do you prefer brief and efficient patient interactions? If so emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and many surgical specialties are bitterly suited for this preference. How important is the work-life balance? Initially, students think that work-life balance was not important but by the time when you reach the end of medical school, you realize how important lifestyle is. It is important for all human beings. You should decide on the first day that you will work hard but will also take time for your family, friends, exercise, and hobbies. That will help in bringing balance in your life. What type of patient population and outcome would you prefer? This is the most important factor that how do you want to interact with patients. Consider the typical patients you will encounter in your specialty of choice. E.g. the type of patients and interactions emergency physicians face on a daily basis is far different from what the average pediatrician or orthopedic surgeon would face. ● Try to assess your own skills. Most skills can be learned .there is also beneficial to play to your strengths. We enjoy the things in which we are good. ●Next, consider the competitiveness of a specialty. ● Consider what type of activities you would like to engage in outside of clinical practice e.g. research, teaching, or policy work? In cases, this preference is most important in determining your practice type. Make sure you will interact with physicians in your area of interest as much as possible. Once you have decided your specialty the next step is making your desirable residency program in your specialty of choice. Understand that grades do not paint the whole picture. The mistake that most students do is that they consider their grades instead of considering their passion for their specialty. When considering a specialty, be flexible and open-minded. You have to realize that your excitement in the chosen specialty will benefit you and patients in the future.