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Post-CaRMS Thoughts – Choosing a Medical Specialty

So marks the end of the CaRMS interview tour for 2012. Overall, it went a lot smoother than I expected. Flights were on time, accommodations were nice and interviews were not as stressful as I thought they would be. Next up, figuring out my rank order list. For those of you that don’t know, after the interviews, each applicant will rank the programs in their preferred order. Residency programs will also “rank” their applicants. Every rank list in the country is than submitted into a computer which will then churn all the residency matches for next year. I’ve been told the entire process only takes a few minutes. Why they make us wait for weeks for our results boggles me.

I have also been reading certain chapters from a book titled “The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty.” It’s a good starting point for people who are not sure what specialty they want to pursue. I’ve been using some of the ideas mentioned in it to talk to some friends who are on the fence between specialties.

For those who are still lost on which specialties they want to do, the book (Ch 2-5) really breaks it down into how I think most people choose a specialty.

Unlike the humorous flowchart above, the first step is to decide whether you want to do something either (1) Surgical (2) Medical (3) Supportive. Supportive fields can include anesthesiology, radiology, pathology, physical rehab, etc.

Next would be to decide on the patient population you want to interact with. Kids, women, men, elderly, or minimal patient contact. Afterwards, intellectual content and lifestyle / training duration is considered. Finally personal experiences through clinical rotations and electives usually helps narrow the field down.

One of the ways I figured out what I wanted to do was the wake up test. As I went through my rotations, I made note of how reluctant I was to wake up each morning. Did I find it hard to wake up? Did I kick around in bed in hopes I could avoid rounding? Did I dread going to work or did I look forward to going in? Surprisingly, this test helped me rule out specialties much better than I expected.

Luckily for me, I think I will be pretty happy doing either Internal Medicine or Family Medicine. I am learning towards IM probably 80-20 post-interviews, I’ll leave the final choice for the almighty CaRMS computer to decide. Will keep everyone posted.

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  1. Spencer
    Spencer February 12, 2012

    Congrats and best of luck!

  2. guest
    guest February 12, 2012

    Haha, very nice flowchart but I thought Ophthalmology was a very tough specialty considering how there are only a few spots in Canada for it. Why would all the lazy students go into it?

    • medaholic
      medaholic February 13, 2012

      Ophthalmologist hours aren’t as long as some other specialty surgeries

  3. anony
    anony February 26, 2012

    this may be a silly question, but why did you put emergency med under the crazy?

    • medaholic
      medaholic February 27, 2012

      I didn’t make up this flow chart, but emergency docs definitely have the craziest stories! Plus they are a bit ADHD too

  4. Justin
    Justin February 27, 2012

    I really like the “wake up test” idea. Simple, but says a lot about what motivates you on a very basic level. Nice post!

  5. Ted
    Ted August 21, 2012

    I woke up today and wanted to have a heart attack so that I did not have to go into work. I think I failed the wake up test.

    Fuck CaRMS.

  6. […] do is the first step. I’ve written about my thought process in choosing a specialty before (Part 1, Part 2), it’s a topic I frequently talk about on this blog, and there are a lot of good […]

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