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Choosing the right path


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Hey! I'd like some guidance from MD students or graduated MDs. I did a bachelor degree in PT and will be starting in medicine this fall. 

How did you figure out what path in medicine you wanted to take? What specialty? 

If you had to start medical school all over, what would you do differently/the same way?

I'd like some advice on how to find the practice that i'll love while I still have plenty of time. How can I also learn more, by your experiences, to become the best clinician I can be?

(French speaker over here don't mind my english)

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the right path is not healthcare lmao

 

but since the mistake has already been made, here's what i'd recommend:

1. first figure out what is important to you: your life within medicine, or your life outside of medicine

2. then consider these factors when choosing a specialty: interest in the specialty, ability to tolerate day to day and/or the patient population in that specialty, job flexibility (meaning job setting flexibility and control over one's schedule, etc... the more staff and infrastructure you need the less flexibility you have hence why psych and rads are probably the most flexible specialties. I've heard of a few orthos who couldnt get a job in ortho even after 2 years of fellowship and had to re-train as a family doctor. Similar stories with OBGYN). Lastly, income potential and overhead, i think this should be last because if you're even a tiny bit financially savy, you can leverage your money from medicine (either your LOC or actual income as an attending) to generate much more income through investments so you're better off just enjoying what you do and not worrying about the money.

Personally, things important for me were interest in the specialty and identity, and job flexibility - location flexibility is extremely important to me and i like having control over my schedule. 

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13 hours ago, mdlifecrisis said:

the right path is not healthcare lmao

 

but since the mistake has already been made, here's what i'd recommend:

1. first figure out what is important to you: your life within medicine, or your life outside of medicine

2. then consider these factors when choosing a specialty: interest in the specialty, ability to tolerate day to day and/or the patient population in that specialty, job flexibility (meaning job setting flexibility and control over one's schedule, etc... the more staff and infrastructure you need the less flexibility you have hence why psych and rads are probably the most flexible specialties. I've heard of a few orthos who couldnt get a job in ortho even after 2 years of fellowship and had to re-train as a family doctor. Similar stories with OBGYN). Lastly, income potential and overhead, i think this should be last because if you're even a tiny bit financially savy, you can leverage your money from medicine (either your LOC or actual income as an attending) to generate much more income through investments so you're better off just enjoying what you do and not worrying about the money.

Personally, things important for me were interest in the specialty and identity, and job flexibility - location flexibility is extremely important to me and i like having control over my schedule. 

thank you for your input! Why do you think that healthcare isnt the right path? what did you end up choosing and why?

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11 hours ago, Progress said:

thank you for your input! Why do you think that healthcare isnt the right path? what did you end up choosing and why?

I think he was being a bit of a troll although I would generally agree with the rest of his post.

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Picking a specialty:

Consider: Medical vs surgical specialties, adult vs pediatrics, generalist vs specialist, and if specialist most interested body part/system to work with. That should narrow it down to just a few specialties for you to explore early on.

Caveat #1: If you think you want to do a specialty with a very poor lifestyle or very poor job outlook, then you need to consider just how much you really like the specialty. For most people, enjoying time with your family will take precedence over your career after 5-10 years and you will start to prefer areas of work that give you more regular work hours and flexibility for time off when needed.

Caveat #2: Even if you enjoy a specialty early on, do not invest into an "identity" because that can make your ego get stuck in the idea of doing that specialty when in reality you might be happier doing something else.

Caveat #3: If you think you enjoy something highly competitive (e.g. dermatology, ophthalmology, plastic surgery), then definitely start working towards it early.

Caveat #4: There are specialties that don't fit the traditional physician mould. If you think you might enjoy them, explore them early on (e.g. radiology, anesthesiology, pathology, public health, nuclear medicine).

 

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More on picking a specialty:

Following is an example of how a specialty may be chosen, i.e., the meandering path that my career has taken thus far, along with the reasons for the changes at each stage. 

Prior to entering medical school I thought I'd go towards obs/gyn (I had a research background in gyne).  Shortly after entering medical school I was 100% sure that gen surg was for me (I loved hands-on work and the broader range of pathologies encountered), and a career as an academic surgeon as well (I had a big research background and wanted to do more of that).  Right at the end of medical school, I realized that interventional radiology was the way to go (greater opportunity to do procedures relative to a junior general surgeon, patients generally fared better).  Early in residency I then reckoned neuroradiology was for me (enjoyed the pathology).  Mid-residency, found another radiology specialty that I really enjoyed, so completed a fellowship in that.  By the end of fellowship, realized that I missed the other radiology subspecialties and their related pathologies, so veered towards general radiology.  Additionally, also realized that I do my best work very early in the morning, i.e., well before most academic radiologists begin work (8am) so incorporated the flexibility of teleradiology (read when you want, from home) into my community radiology practice (the latter also avoids dealing with some of the "interesting" personalities that can be academic radiologists).

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On 8/3/2022 at 8:19 PM, mdlifecrisis said:

I've heard of a few orthos who couldnt get a job in ortho even after 2 years of fellowship and had to re-train as a family doctor. Similar stories with OBGYN.

It's actually insane to me that many people going into surgery don't know much about its job market beforehand. Imagine doing 7 years of rigorous surgical training and then transitioning into family medicine (something you might've not even wanted to do in the first place).

If you don't want to practice in the US (or a remote community hospital in Canada), do NOT go into surgery. 

 

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On 8/3/2022 at 5:19 PM, mdlifecrisis said:

the right path is not healthcare lmao

 

but since the mistake has already been made, here's what i'd recommend:

1. first figure out what is important to you: your life within medicine, or your life outside of medicine

2. then consider these factors when choosing a specialty: interest in the specialty, ability to tolerate day to day and/or the patient population in that specialty, job flexibility (meaning job setting flexibility and control over one's schedule, etc... the more staff and infrastructure you need the less flexibility you have hence why psych and rads are probably the most flexible specialties. I've heard of a few orthos who couldnt get a job in ortho even after 2 years of fellowship and had to re-train as a family doctor. Similar stories with OBGYN). Lastly, income potential and overhead, i think this should be last because if you're even a tiny bit financially savy, you can leverage your money from medicine (either your LOC or actual income as an attending) to generate much more income through investments so you're better off just enjoying what you do and not worrying about the money.

Personally, things important for me were interest in the specialty and identity, and job flexibility - location flexibility is extremely important to me and i like having control over my schedule. 

Really? I thought OB-GYN could just do outpatient gyne if there aren't any hospital jobs for OB.  Ortho I get, you can't do much outside of the OR (maybe sports med, but what a waste of surgical training). Smh.  

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