One of the main goals of third year is to decide on your specialty – discovering what you like or don’t like on your core rotations. Now that I’m over halfway through third year, I have found that each rotation has been unique and enlightening in its own right, but not enough for me to choose it as a career. Here’s what I’ve done, and what I did and didn’t like about each.
Pros – I enjoyed the mix of medicine and surgery, and the variety that it entailed. For example, one moment I could be interviewing a patient about how her pregnancy is going, then the next moment I could be in the OR, helping with another patient’s C-section. I also found the culture unique – mostly young, healthy patients, in the hospital for a joyous occasion rather than a sad one.
Cons – From the patients to the physicians, the whole specialty was incredibly female dominated. Although it usually wasn’t a problem, the times I was asked to leave a patient’s room because I was male were uncomfortable and awkward. Also, waking up at 1 am to deliver a baby probably gets old quickly.
Pros – Such a happy environment – from the painted walls of the hospital, to the adorable babies and children, to the extremely nice residents and attendings. In addition, some of the congenital pathologies that are cared for (ex. tetralogy of fallot) are incredibly fascinating.
Cons – Getting a medical history was always a pain – children usually can’t articulate what is wrong with them, and having to always go through parents was a hassle. I also wasn’t satisfied with the kind of work I was doing – most of the time that I spent was monitoring kids that probably just had the flu, or assuaging worried parents.
Pros – The ability to make an immediate, drastic impact on a patient’s life was extremely gratifying. I also loved using my hands – from dissecting to suturing, surgery (at least the times I was actually doing something) was engrossing.
Cons – As much as I enjoyed the work, the lifestyle of surgery was just too rough for me. My senior residents, 5 years out of med school and married with kids, were still in the hospital from 6 in the morning till 6 at night every day. The physical toll was also steep – standing for hours a time, often not having eating or drinking anything all day.