Choosing a medical specialty PART 1

By berrysmotivation - September 25, 2017

Back in the days, you either had to be a doctor or an engineer and once you decide to go to medical school, you get away with most things at home because your parents begin to see you as the golden child and after graduation, it becomes even better. Before you say anything you have already been introduced by your proud parents as the DOCTOR. When you begin to practise as a doctor, you become less proud of yourself because others see the gold in the profession which you do not, simply because no one told you all you have to deal with as you progress in your career. Not only does it get difficult as you go further there is always the confusion on what specialty to settle for. Famous American neurosurgeon and politician BEN CARSON probably got it right in the first instance even when he was told to drop out of medical school in his first year because he wasn't doing well but he held on and chose a path that got him to this point today.

There are few things to consider before choosing a specialty. Ambition alone isn't enough in choosing a specialty, it’s a combination of several things. Some of which are:
  • Personality: According to the royal college of physicians, in their 17th July 2015 post on how to choose a medical specialty, they said when choosing a specialty, it’s important to take into consideration who you are: your personality, likes and dislikes, abilities, interests, ambitions, aptitudes, limitations and task-management skills. Are you a hands-on practical person, or do you like to think about detail and solve complex problems? Can you deal with uncertainty and complex/busy situations, or do you prefer a more ordered approach with time to think? Many of the medical specialties require a mixture of attributes because of the varied and variable nature of work as a physician. 
  • Length of training: This is absolutely important. Consider how many years you need to put in before going into it so you don't leave half way because you cannot continue and you end up having lost years. Know all that is required before you begin. Some training require at least 8 years in some countries and others less.
  • Rewards: The reward of your job is your pay check at the end of the month including patient satisfaction. Consider what you will earn as a consultant in which ever field you decide to go, would it sustain you and your family? Think of responsibilities as well. I always say to people doctors aren’t particularly rich people anyway so make a wise choice.
  • Family: Would it give you enough time for your family? We have always known doctors to be away from home most times especially at night, but there are some specialties which give you a reasonable amount of time to spend with your family. Psychiatry, dermatology etc are good examples.
  • The task: Are you up for the task? Some people have gone blindly into a path and gotten lost in the process simply because they didn't anticipate all they had to deal with. You have to know what it entails and basically figure out if you are competent enough to give it a try.
  • Flexibility: So you may not always get it right at first attempt. Let’s say for instance you are far gone in your specialty training and you decide you don’t want that path anymore, what are the possibilities of completing in another specialty. Some specialties give you the opportunity to branch out and others are willing to accept you half way. In the U.K they refer to specialists who have trained in another field but now work in a different one as associate specialists. Do your research to see how flexible your choice is.
Few things that didn’t make it to the list are things like stress. Can you manage stress or you burn out easily, are you a people person or you rather sit quiet and do your job, Radiology would be an option in this case. I will talk about different specialties and give your ideas on what to expect from each one in the next post.
Comment yes in the comment box below if this post was useful to you and if you want to see the next post on each specialties.


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