How do I go about choosing the area of medicine I want to practice?
It may seem to you like all the pre-med gunners around you in medical school have their future all buttoned up. They all seem to know their specialty, where they’ll work, and even how well they’ll be paid.
The truth is, 70 percent of all medical students end up practicing something different than what they planned in their pre-med days. So if you haven’t decided on an area of medicine yet, you’re in good company.
Here’s some good advice: Slow down. Don’t stress. Take your time. Access people around you. Shadow doctors. Study up on different specialties. Do Internet searches. Watch surgical videos. Read books. Talk to people who’ve taken the path you think you want to take. Keep your mind open to lots of ideas. There are plenty of online resources as well, like this test by the University of Virginia to help you determine your MSA (medical specialty aptitude). The AAMC Careers in Medicine website also offers lots of self-evaluation tools and information to help you make a career decision. You’ll need login information from your college to access this helpful site.
If you consider that there are around three dozen medical specialties, and up to 120 subspecialties to choose from, it could be premature to decide on your specialty before exploring a few of them.
In medical school you’ll have the chance to do rotations, go on rounds with doctors, and see a much bigger world. You’ll have the chance to choose an internship before you get placed into a residency. At that point, you should be very, very sure about what you want to do when you grow up! And you will.
But for now, stop worrying. You have time….