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The Shortlist – Year One

I was talking to a graduating medical student and asked him how he figured out which specialty / residency he wanted to do. His reply was “there are two ways to go about it.”

The first way is to start listing what interests and what criteria you would like (lifestyle, procedural, continuity of care, shift work). You then rule in specialties that fit these guidelines. The other way is to start with a list of all the medical specialties and begin ruling out programs you would NOT do or have no interest in.

He asked me then to list my top 5 prospects and bottom 5, and told me to keep track of my thoughts on them. Hopefully, by the end of third year before applying for programs, I should have an understanding of what I would like to do. So without further delay, my shortlist as an M1.

Top 5

  1. Internal Medicine
  2. Radiology
  3. Ophthalmology
  4. Orthopedics
  5. Family Medicine

Bottom 5

  1. OBS / GYN
  2. Pathology
  3. Dermatology
  4. Anesthesiology
  5. Psychiatry

It will be interesting to see what I will have as my top prospects this time next year. I’m sure as I shadow more doctors and gain more exposure to the different specialties, this list is bound to change. For now, I think I like working with my hands and the reward of curing a patient appeals to me. Also, continuity of care and patient interaction is fairly big on my list, although my choice of radiology does seem contradicting.

What are your top prospects for specialties? And for people who have graduated already, how did you come to decide on your specialty and what drew you to it? What turned you off from other ones?

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  1. Medhopeful
    Medhopeful April 7, 2009

    Not in medical school yet, but I think personally, some of my main criteria would be…

    – Interest in the science of that field
    – Intellectual challenge / stimulation: difficult/rarer cases, less repetitive cases
    – Value thinking/decision making/planning over physical labour…. so maybe not surgery then?
    – Time commitment – besides family/personal relationships, there are other activities I’d prob. be interested in doing… so can probably rule out smtg like neurosurgery

    I’m probably forgetting some things, and haven’t really decided on how I’d rank those criteria.

  2. […] the end of my first year of medical, I made a shortlist (year 1) of specialties I was considering. At the end of second year, I made another list (year 2) of […]

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