Choosing a medical specialty
After you’ve finally became a doctor and you’ve got a few years worth of experience under your belt the time will come for you to choose your specialty. At first glance this might seem like an easy choice for you but it actually comprises of two crucial components.
What’s your favourite area of medicine?
This in itself seems like a fairly easy question and people will immediately be able to answer this question with little thought i.e. cardiology, neurology etc. Even at school you’ll have gained a pretty good grasp of the human body and as such you’ll know which systems you hate and which ones you love. It’s pretty easy at this stage to immediately omit the areas which you have no professional interest in pursuing. In fact, pursuing an area that you have little to no interest in would be of a disservice to you and your patients. Regardless, some physicians will take up a specialty they’re not really interested in as a challenge and as a way to better themselves although this rarely works out they way they wish it to. At this stage we suggest that you make a list of your top three areas you’d like to conduct your medical specialty in and then take account account the next step.
Just how good a doctor are you?
This question may seem harsh, but such is a career in medicine and when it comes time to choosing a specialty you’ll be in a lot of strict competition with other people that are in the same boat as you. This question we’re raising has nothing to do with how much determination you have, but rather just how competent you are at medicine. Take cardiology for example. This is a constantly changing field due to the continued use and expansion of our understanding of the human genome and many diseases previously thought to have no genetic bearing (such as hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathies) are now regarded as having a strong tie to genetics.
Due to this, you’ll need to assess if you’re competent enough to keep up to speed with the latest developments, as well as being fully confident that after you’ve developed your specialty that you’ll be able to outshine the other potential candiates for any job. There’s no shame in taking your second choice for a specialty and that’s exactly why we suggested above that you have more than one option. We’d recommend at this point that you take the list you made earlier and jot down the pro’s and con’s of each specialty. It may actually be that what you classed as your first choice is not as glamorous as it may seem.
We would also recommend that you gain as much advice as possible from as many members of staff you can speak to in the hospital you currently work in. It’s always good advice to speak to the clinical lead of the department, however it’s also important to speak to the other doctors that also work there, as well as the nursing staff so that you can get a more rounded opinion of the department. By doing so, you won’t be jumping head first into an area that seems as though it’s totally perfect with zero negatives.
The rest is up to you.
Remember that by and large physicians only have one specialty and very few re-train or switch specialities once they start to learn a chosen field. It’s crucial that you take as much time as possible to gather all the information you need to make an informed decision to undertake your specialty. This stage of your career is going to be even harder than it was becoming a doctor. However, once you make it through to the end you’ll enjoy your job even more, and you’ll also be financially sound. We hope that this information has been of some help to you.
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