Medical students often struggle when it comes time to choose a medical specialty. It’s a huge decision and it will impact the rest of your life. What you specialize in now will likely be your career for decades. Here are some of the top tips to use when it comes time to pick a medical specialty.
Breathe and Relax
Your medical degree provides more flexibility than you may realize. Compared to other graduate degrees, you will have the ability to work in multiple areas with a medical degree. If you choose a specialty you love for a while, but decide you don’t care for so much anymore, you can go into teaching, research, health care administration, physician entrepreneurship, clinical investigation or a number of other fields.
You won’t be limited to only working in the medical specialty you choose now. Since your medical degree will allow great flexibility, it’s time to take a deep breath and relax. This decision may impact your life, but it won’t limit you to just one field.
Speak with Mentors in the Field
Before you make your final decision, speak with those already in the field. You should talk to several physicians about several specialties before you choose the one right for you. When you get advice from mentors with experience in the medical specialty you’re considering, you can make a better decision.
As you speak to different physicians, you can narrow your list of medical specialties. While you don’t want to choose a specialty based solely on the opinions of others, talking to those with experience may help you choose the right path for you.
Salary and Lifestyle
Another consideration with picking your medical specialty is the money you will make and the lifestyle you prefer. Residency is going to be difficult and highly time consuming no matter the specialty you choose. however, when you finished your residency, you want to make sure you will be happy with the salary and lifestyle you will now have. To read about the best radiology residencies click here.
Along with the salary, you should consider the large debts you will likely have from medical school. Your student loans will likely be very high and your residency won’t make you a ton of cash. However, the specialty you choose will impact how fast you can pay off these loans.
Some medical specialties pay more when you finish the residency than others. Make sure you understand the starting salary and the possibilities in the future for your chosen medical specialty. To learn more about radiologist salaries click here.
Consider the Future
Picking a medical specialty should include taking the time to consider the future, as well as the present. Will the field you choose be around in 10, 20 or 30 years? Is it a growing field? Consider what your job may look like in a decade.
While you cannot predict the future completely, you can consider it in your decision. Will you be happy with the job if it changes due to new technology? Does the specialty offer the type of growth opportunities you prefer?
Do Your Research
With so much information available online and in libraries, you can find out just about everything you need to know about any medical specialty. Do your research and make sure you understand the options you are choosing between before you make the final choice.
You can even consider taking the Myers Brigg Personality assessment or trying a website like FRIEDA. Sometimes, these tests can help you choose the specialty that fits best with your personality.
Choose Based on Passion
Often, medical students choose a medical specialty based on money, prestige or simply because they have to choose. Don’t let this happen to you. Remember, this will possibly be your career for the next 30 to 40 years. Choose something you are passionate, not just something that will pay you well or offer the opportunity to become well-known.
If you’re passionate about your work, the money and prestige will come. However, if the medical specialty you choose doesn’t get you excited, you will likely suffer from physician’s burnout sooner rather than later.
It’s a big decision and picking your career shouldn’t be taken lightly. Take the time to research each option you are considering, speak with those in the field and get some hands on experience, if possible. Use the tips above to help narrow your list down to a few choices and make sure you choose what you are passionate about. Don’t make the decision based on money or prestige and you will be happier with the specialty you picked.
CME Science hosts continuing medical education conferences around the world. We host conferences primarily for radiologists. To learn more about becoming a radiologist click here. To view our upcoming radiology conferences click here.