Deciding on a medical specialty is pretty much the only thing on my mind these days.
We are starting to creating our schedules for fourth year, and there is a lot to consider. We have to do a month long rotation in the field we want to go into. We’ll function like a first year resident and usually are able to get some good letters of recommendation from it. Away rotations are also a consideration, and most of us will take Step 2 of boards this summer. Oh, and get our entire residency application together to submit in early September.
What I Know I Like
So I’m doing lots of thinking, having important conversations, and basically changing my mind every 10 minutes. There are a few things I’ve always known I like: primary care, mental health, preventative medicine, and integrative lifestyle medicine. I know I want to listen to my patients, calm their fears and help them feel understood. I want to work with people to create a realistic plan for reaching their health goals. My goal is practice integrative medicine, incorporating all aspects of holistic health and of course using western medicine when necessary. I hope to do that regardless of the field I end up in, and I hope that my future career allows me to take care of my own holistic health.
Mental health and psychiatry are fascinating to me, but I also love the idea of being someone’s go-to physician. The idea of helping girls with eating disorders lights me up, but there is more than one way to do that. I also don’t know that I want to do only that. Pediatrics has shown me that I really love working with kids, but I enjoy connecting with people all ages. I think I could be happy doing a number of different things and it’s hard to narrow it down!
Eager To Explore
There are so many options. This residency, or that residency with that fellowship, or this combined residency. People have all kinds of opinions. Really I just wish I had more time to explore. There are lots of electives I’m eager to do — child psychiatry, integrative pediatrics, and my dream of the Arizona Institute for Integrative Medicine. I’d also like to explore more critical care medicine, outpatient psychiatry, and a variety of family medicine practices. Unfortunately my time is limited by the September application due date and the requirements we have to complete before then. My mom told me she didn’t have to decide until December of her 4th year, and so had a lot more time to experience different things. Times have changed!
There is so much uncertainty right now! Then tack on the permanent fear of just matching in the first place. And the stress of matching somewhere that works for my boyfriend and me. Just thinking about it makes me want to dive onto my yoga mat!
Excited For The Future
But despite all the uncertainty, it’s so exciting. I’m starting to daydream about what life will be like once I finish school. It makes me a little antsy, to be honest! I’m eager! I’m picturing a new house, a new city, maybe actually getting live near my boyfriend. (I’m conveniently ignoring the incredibly long hours of residency, ha.) Life has been all preparatory for so long, but soon I’ll actually get to START the career I have been working toward. I’ll be a freaking DOCTOR next year!!
It’s easy to get ahead of myself. I’m trying to stay present and focus on the task at hand. (I just got this book in the mail – perfect timing.) I still have to finish pediatrics and get through surgery. But the planning of 4th year is there now, reminding me of the light at the end of the tunnel.
- If you’re in medicine, how did you decide on your specialty? What do you do?
- Everyone – tell me some of the big decisions you’re making right now, or exciting things you’re looking forward to!