Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 August 2009
Medicine as a profession is going through turbulent times. Medical education and patient reimbursement are among issues in a state of flux. Nevertheless, as a medical student, you can exercise considerable control over your personal career. This is because your choice of a specialty will determine (1) how long a training period you will have, (2) how many programs will be accessible to you, and (3) the geographic area of your training site. To achieve a favorable outcome of the specialty selection process, careful planning is essential.
Medical students, being intensively involved in demanding educational activities, may find themselves pressured into choosing a specialty with undue haste, not giving it the thought that this very important decision deserves. Some elect to choose the specialty of a physician they admire, or of their medical school mentor, trying merely to imitate a person looked upon as a role model. These motivating factors present serious risks, due to the inherent differences that usually exist between individuals, and the sought-after results may not materialize.
The specifics of choosing a specialty will be discussed later in this chapter, but some generalizations are in order at this point. In seeking to establish a tentative choice of specialty, try to determine what approach to medicine appeals to you most.
Do you prefer to focus on wellness or on sickness?
Are you interested in treating adults of varying ages?
Do you prefer short- or long-term patient relationships?
Do you favor contact with peers in your profession or with patients?
Do you prefer a contemplative or decisive approach to solving problems?