Picking a Medical Speciality (Before School Edition)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

As soon as "I'm going to medical school" comes out of my mouth, they next question I hear besides "Oh, to be a nurse?" (that's another post for another day) is usually "Do you know what speciality you want to go into."  

The short answer = no clue.  The long answer usually includes me spurting off my top 3-5 areas of interest but ending with "I'll probably change my mind a million times though."

For the greater portion of my short life, I wanted to be a Pediatrician.  Honestly, I probably didn't even know what the heck that was but I liked how it sounded and I knew I would be working with kiddos.  It wasn't until I started spending more time research specialties, shadowing, and volunteering that I realized how many other options were out there.  I knew I loved working with children but I also love learning about adults.  

I've bounced around a lot of the past few years regarding my specialty of choice - from orthopaedic surgery to emergency medicine to family medicine.  Right now my top pick is OB/Gyn.  I love the combination of surgery, procedures, and clinical time.  For the most part, OB/Gyn is a "happy" profession - you get to bring life into the world and deal with a generally young & healthy population.  On the other hand, the profession is known for grueling, unpredictable hours (babies don't just come into the world 9a-5p)  and it isn't known for being particularly family friendly (I plan on having a basketball team's worth of snot-nosed miracles).

Since my opinions are always changing, I thought it would be cool to take a few medical specialty quizzes at different stages of my training in order to document how my preferences change overtime.  These are generally supposed to assess your personality and match it up with a viable list of specialities.

Here were my results from: http://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/specialties/

1. endocrinology
2. nephrology
3. hematology
4. physical med & rehab
5. pathology
6. orthopaedic surgery
7. plastic surgery
8. rheumatology
9. pulmonology
10. infectious disease
11. occupational med
12. thoracic surgery
13. obstetrics & gyn
14. pediatrics
15. opthalmology

I highlighted specialities that I have EVER considered.  As you can see, only two of my current interests are mentioned and they are pretty low on the list.

I also found that you can take a Myer-Briggs test to find out which specialty would be best suited for you.  I will actually be taking a real test once school starts but for now, here are a few less comprehensive tests:

According to this test here, I am ISTP. 
According to this test here, I am ISFJ.

This is a chart I found on Student Doctors Forum that supposedly corresponds to Myer-Briggs:

ISTJ - Dermatology, OBGYN, Family Practice, Urology, Orthopedic Surgery 
ISFJ - Anesthesiology, Ophthalmology, General practice, Family practice, Pediatrics
ISTP - Otolaryngology (ENT), Anesthesiology, Radiology, Ophthalmology, General practice
ISFP - Anesthesiology, Urology, Family practice, Thoracic surgery, General practice
INTJ - Psychiatry, Pathology, Neurology, Internal medicine, Anesthesiology
INFJ - Psychiatry, Internal medicine, Thoracic surgery, General surgery, Pathology
INTP - Neurology, Pathology, Psychiatry, Cardiology, Thoracic surgery
INFP - Psychiatry, Cardiology, Neurology, Dermatology, Pathology
ESTJ - OBGYN, General practice, General surgery, Orthopedic surgery, Pediatrics
ESFJ - Pediatrics, Orthopedic surgery, Otolaryngology (ENT), General practice, Internal medicine
ESTP - Orthopedic surgery, Dermatology, Family practice, Radiology, General surgery
ESFP - Ophthalmology, Thoracic surgery, OBGYN, Orthopedic surgery, General surgery
ENTJ - Neurology, Cardiology, Urology, Thoracic surgery, Internal medicine
ENFJ - Thoracic surgery, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, Radiology
ENTP - Otolaryngology (ENT), Psychiatry, Radiology, Pediatrics, Pathology
ENFP - Psychiatry, Dermatology, Otolaryngology (ENT), Pediatrics

As you can see, there isn't a lot of overlap between specialty types.  The first test actually includes more subspecialties of Internal Medicine so they aren't necessarily comparable.  

Now for my personal list based on my research and experience:
1. OB/Gyn
2. Emergency Medicine
3. Pediatrics
4. Family Medicine
5. Neonatology

What the heck? There is virtually no overlap between what I want to do and what my personality supposedly says about me.  I'm at a loss...particularly because there are so many surgical and internal medicine specialties listed.  I've never been drawn to these except maybe plastics or ortho which are extremely competitive and not family friendly.

I'm interested to see how this changes over the next few months and years.  Maybe I will end up loving one of these specialties I've never even considered...


  1. I honestly wouldn't worry about it until 3rd year. Keep an open mind, give lots of different areas your consideration, and you'll figure it out when you get into clerkship. :)

    Also, I'm pretty sure all those virtual tests are bogus haha.

    1. Of course! These tests are silly. It's funny because people are already talking about what clubs and interest groups they want to join at school and I'm all like "can I join them all?"