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Career Advice

5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Medical Specialty

Selecting a specialty is a big decision. It will not only determine the training program you choose, but your career path and passion. You must therefore not rush into making a decision. Read about the five factors to consider when choosing a medical specialty.

  1. Passion

Practicing medicine is a life-long commitment to learning. To provide your patients with the highest standard in healthcare, you have a duty to go into a field that captures your interest. Not only must you learn about the procedures you will be able to perform, but you also must find out whether you can cope with the role’s more mundane tasks, too. If you follow your heart, you will have more passion for the field and will excel in your role.

  1. The Training Experience

The training experience can determine whether you are cut out for a role. For example, those who are confident enough to think on their feet and work in busy settings might be ideal for a role in emergency medicine.As a result, they should consider a training program in a leading clinical practice, such as, if they live in the US, Rush University. During a residency training program, it’s advisable to review your colleagues’ lifestyles, because this will provide an insight into your future. It can therefore confirm whether it is the right career for you.

  1. Your Strengths and Weaknesses

It’s important to be honest with yourself about your skillset before you pick a specialty. For example, if you are not a people person, it is advisable to avoid entering a clinic setting. Also, if you’re a little clumsy or have shaky hands, it would be wise to avoid embarking on a surgical specialty for obvious reasons.

Not only must you identify your weaknesses, but you must also aim to enhance your strengths to succeed in a role. For example, if you are confident you have what it takes to enjoy a flourishing career in a surgical or procedural specialty, it would be smart to take up a hobby that improves your fine motor skills, such as playing the piano or the guitar or undertaking an art class.

  1. The Salary

While you shouldn’t allow money to factor too much into your decision, you must be realistic with your medical specialty choice. Let’s face it, med school isn’t cheap and you will want to enjoy a salary to pay off the significant student loan debt you have acquired over the years.

If you do choose a specialty on the lower end on the pay scale, such as pediatrics, you will need to come to terms with the fact you will be paid less than a plastic surgeon or neurosurgeon. This will prevent you from becoming resentful of their lifestyle, as you will know a smaller salary is part and parcel of the role.

  1. Colleagues’ Personalities

It isn’t unusual for similar personalities to flock towards certain medical specialties. While you shouldn’t allow other people to determine your career choices, you must be prepared to work alongside people who have dominant personality traits, which could frustrate or annoy you throughout your working life. Rotations are therefore a great way to learn more about the different personalities in specialties, so you can identify if it’s the best environment for you.


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