When students find it hard to choose a medical specialty
- Category: Medical Education
- Published on: Monday, 20 January 2014
One of the most decisive moments for medical students is when they have to choose what to specialize in. Their choice will determine their lifestyle, their living standard and their job satisfaction. One of the disadvantages of the educational system in some countries is that it does not provide these young people with an effective consultation so that they can make a well-informed decision.
Students need to find the best criteria for choosing their medical specialty. An inexperienced young person is likely to make the financial benefits and the prestige of a specialty their main criterion. However, becoming a doctor is a responsible decision which requires a high level of devotion to the working process and to the patients which is hard to achieve unless you really enjoy what you are doing. Being patient towards your patients and feeling compassion for them depends to a large extent on the compatibility of a medical specialist with the type of work they have chosen to do in the long term. Since working in different departments requires different amounts of inpatient and outpatient visits, uncomfortable shifts and emotional stamina, it is of great significance to be honest with yourself and assess your strengths, weaknesses and core values.
While the shadowing experiences during the preclinical years are important, they are not the best basis on which you should choose a specialty. You can gain a clearer perspective of medical specialties in your third year at the medical school when you start your clinical practice and every 4-8 weeks you rotate to a new specialty. Take into consideration what kind of people are drawn to the work in a specific department. Talk with as many physicians as possible about the pros and cons of their specialty and what they have learnt about the profession over the years.
Money, flexible working hours and social recognition matter a lot. They are the tangible benefits of particular specialties. And yet, your job satisfaction and health status will depend on how well your job fits your personality. Most people, and especially young people in their early 20s, are not well aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Their self-knowledge hasn’t reached a level high enough to be able to find the best match for themselves based on their system of values. Often they choose a specialty based on what they think others might be impressed by and end up hating going to work.
Maybe you like the idea of being a plastic surgeon because of the high salary and luxurious lifestyle but bear in mind that you need to enjoy working in this field because most of your waking hours you will be spending at work and not on fancy vacations.
Medical students who are not sure what kind of specialty fits their personality may seek the help of consultancies like Forum der Medizin which provide competent career advice and support in finding the most suitable specialization or job in the medical field.
Author: Mariya Dim
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