I’ve always loved talking to people. I’ve had lots of public speaking experience in various roles, and all have honed my conversation skills. In medical school, when I practice histories and physicals in the clinical competency center, I often receive commendations for my social histories where my small-talk skills really shine. Although the history has not presented much of a challenge, performing physical exams makes me sweat. I struggle to remember all the maneuvers and feel like I’m somewhat clumsy and always rushed. Patient interactions fill me with a certain amount of dread. With this in mind, I’ve begun to reconsider my choice of specialties.
Before coming to medical school, I was fairly certain that I knew what specialty I would choose. I had strong experience working as a camp counselor over the past (at that time) seven summers and was convinced that a pediatric specialty would be where my skills could be put to the best use. The first year of medical school did nothing to change my mind.
As second year has progressed, however, it has become apparent that a new specialty has captured my interest. Although I do love working with children, I’ve found pathology to be more fascinating. The choice of pediatrics as a specialty was largely an assumption on my part. I assumed that, because I loved my previous work with children, pediatrics would continue to be the best fit for me. Pathology was never a specialty I considered, even in passing. But studying it in detail has begun to convince me that it could be a better choice for my personality and interests.
First and foremost, the stress I feel when interacting with patients would be ameliorated by specializing in pathology. Pathology is sometimes jokingly referred to as the specialty to choose if you feel like you are “allergic to patients.” I’m beginning to feel this way, so it looks appealing right now! Furthermore, my college major was chemistry. I’m no stranger to lab work! Pathology wins again.
My friends and advisors have questioned my new interest, however. They’ve said that because I love people, pathology isn’t the specialty for me. I argue that I do love people and talking with them. But this year, I’ve begun to pinpoint exactly why patient interactions don’t satisfy my needs. I’ve realized that I enjoy answering questions more than I enjoy asking them, so I think that the consulting aspect of pathology may be a better fit.
So, right now I am finding the subject matter of pathology to be most compelling, and the personalities of the pathologists I’ve met to be endearing. The style of work seems to appeal as well. Ultimately, though, I still have plenty of time to learn more, try new things, and prepare myself to make the best career decision possible.