“I’ve always known that I wanted to be a __________” and other self-fulfilling prophecies

This is a post about thinking (read: freaking out) about choosing a medical specialty.

Before starting: yes, I am fully aware that no one needs to choose a medical specialty during first or second year. And yes, I know that many older students/residents will write this off as simply gunner or fanciful or both.

But I can’t help but think that the majority of first year students do spend time thinking about this topic, and moreover could benefit immensely if they happen to guess correctly their medical specialty of interest, or at least, the ballpark of medical specialties they would enjoy.

The benefits are self-evident:

1. we have more time to think about specialties, shadow, meet more people, ask more overly direct questions to physicians during lunch talks before slinking off into the background (the book “The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty” is very good too);

2. we have more time to prepare our extracurricular portfolios (even though people will swear again and again that “it doesn’t matter” and “they just want to see leadership/involvement/work ethic,” obviously the people interviewing you will be more interested in any work or research you’ve done in their field);

3. we get procrastinate studying renal physiology by agonizing over personality tests online that TELL YOU YOUR FUTURE! (here and here).

The medical specialty selectors (I’m partial to the SDN one for the ease of use) may in fact be very insightful, although their methodology is vague (“I have a 70% match with surgeons? Does that mean I will be 30% unhappy???” Cue me exploding in a pouf of bad statistics and pessimism).

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