It comes at you rather quickly during third-year: picking a specialty. At the beginning of third-year, they tell you to keep an open mind and to explore all fields. By January, they tell you to start narrowing your choices. But by March, you’re deep into VSAS and likely applying to a specific career choice.
When does the decision happen? For many students, there is no set date. There is no bright light or a single moment that often dictates when you choose a specialty. Nor is there a sorting hat that tells you what field you have to go into. For many of us, it’s a collection of experiences that draw us towards a single specialty. Or, it’s having a deadline that makes us show our hand and make a decision. It’s not an easy decision to make, because there are so many factors to consider. For some people, location is the most important decision. For others, it’s the time commitment. For others, they know exactly what they want to do.
For me, I’ve found myself declaring general surgery. Like many others, it’s a field I was considering prior to third-year, but couldn’t confirm I’d wanted to do it until I went through the rotation. And then, for me, it just “felt right.” I wish there was an algorithm or a decision tree I went through to solidify my choice. It came down to a gut feeling. While I liked most of my rotations, I was happiest in the OR and focusing on anatomy. At the end of the day, everyone makes a choice, and sticking with it is a very scary yet relieving feeling. I’ll keep you updated as I go through the application process.
What about you? What factors did you consider as you chose your career path?