It must be a busy summer for those of you who are applying this year for the 2014 Match. You have until September 15 to choose a specialty that you want to be partaking in as a resident. For some of you, the choice is clear, but for others, there may be too many options. Here are three pieces of advice that I feel are the most important in choosing your specialty:
- If you did not enjoy a clerkship 80% of the time, then you should not specialize in that field.
- Determine how much patient interaction you want: If you want long term follow-ups with your patients, you should chose a specialty in an out-patient setting; If you want less patient interaction, you should choose a specialty that is more hospital-based.
- Be reasonable in determining how competitive your application is with regards to your academic performance, board exam scores and letters of recommendation, and a choose a specialty for which you are most compatible.
I think it is also important to determine the lifestyle you want. If you want to travel, have a family, get married, have children, or be involved in community service, it is wise to choose a specialty accordingly. Additionally, how much your specialty pays for malpractice insurance may also be a significant determinant.
If you are still unsure of which specialty is best for you, I suggest asking your mentors or your colleagues for their thoughts on what specialty they think you might excel in. However, be cautious, because what they suggest may not be what you would enjoy for the rest of your life.
If you are still unsure, you may want to choose a generalized field such as medicine, and do a preliminary year, so you can decide your specialty after first year of residency.
Choosing the right specialty is really important, so take your time and really think about it. But, make sure you give yourself enough time to have all of your documents submitted in a timely manner. Good luck!