Student Doctors Rotations Selecting a Specialty

Selecting a Specialty

Path to success

Research, experience and advice from experts can help guide your decision

Candidates should approach each clinical rotation as a potential career path and explore as many options as possible.

Choosing a specialty as a med student is one of the biggest decisions of your career. Rotations present the ideal opportunity to explore your interests and nail down your top specialties. Above all, keep an open mind. Your initial dream might be to practice internal medicine, but you may discover during a pediatric rotation that you have a knack for getting squirming toddlers to sit still while checking their ears. For this reason, former students recommend waiting until the last day of each rotation to decide whether you think that specialty is a fit for you. Here are more tips for narrowing your options before selecting a specialty:

Ask the experts

During your rotations, ask specialists on the floor what they like and dislike about their fields. You can start the conversation by asking:

  • What level of patient care does their specialty entail? For example, patients in the ICU would require a higher level of care compared to a woman who gave birth without any complications.
  • How often do they work overnight and how often are they on call?
  • Ask specialists how they balance work-life demands. DO anesthesiologists, for instance, typically work 12-hour days plus they’re on in-house call for 24-hour shifts. However, their intense work schedule is balanced by a generous amount of personal time off.
  • What are the physical and mental capacities required to meet the demands of the job?

Narrow the field

As you’re exploring possible specialties, you may also want to check out one of these resources to help narrow the field.

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