Finding the right medical specialty

Some medics know the path they want to take before even starting medical school.

For others, that isn’t the case (including myself).

During medical school, not knowing the specialty to choose is largely considered fine.

“You’ll have plenty of time”.

“It’s early days”.

“No one really knows”.

The above lines have been said to me before, and I felt reassured. During medical school, my focus was on getting through placements rather than choosing a future training program.

During rotations I’d sometimes wonder if they were right for me. Surgery? Medical? Critical care? General Practice (GP)?

However, three years after graduating medical school I found myself still unsure where to go. All my colleagues were well into their chosen path and I felt left behind.

It was as if I was in high school again, trying to choose my career.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

What even are my choices?

In medical school, we are exposed to a certain number of specialties. Mainly surgery, medical, critical care, general practice, psychiatry, O&G and paediatrics.

Getting to the end of a training program seems to be the pinnacle of our careers, with no other options.

In med school I didn’t feel particularly called to any of them. Surgery was ruled out because I tend to faint after standing too long scrubbed, medicine didn’t appeal, psychiatry and O&G we also a no.

For a while I considered critical care, general practice or paediatrics. While working as a junior doctor I soon realised that though I loved kids, I didn’t enjoy treating them as patients. It broke my heart to see them unwell or in pain. So paediatrics was out!

Down to just critical care or general practice then. I geared my whole residency year towards critical care. But soon realised that I felt a lot better outside of the hospital environment.

So that left me general practice, right?

Getting into GP training

I applied for GP training and was accepted. Which is great news, but I realised I didn’t really want to do this program.

GP is more than just a ‘back up’ option, it’s a training program with difficult times and hard exams. Choosing this path because I didn’t know what else to do wasn’t the right reason.

This made me step back and reassess what I was actually doing.

Was I just choosing GP out of fear of not having a medical specialty? I’d been secretly hoping one day I’d wake up and just know what I wanted to do with my medical career. That day never came.

If I was honest with myself, none of the specialties I’d experienced had called to me.

Myself and my future patients deserve more than me giving a half-hearted attempt at GP training.

So I decided to withdraw.

I just don’t think it’s for me. Simple as that.

One who has a ‘why’ to live for can endure almost any ‘how’

Friedrich Nietzsche

In the end, this further few years of training didn’t sit right with me. Not just because it was hard, but because it wasn’t my ‘why’. It’s a lot more complicated to go through challenges when you’re not invested in the end goal.

Currently, I’m feeling a lot more at peace and relieved. Living a life that doesn’t align with yourself and values never feels right.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Are you unsure?

You’ve found the right blog if you’re also unsure which path to take. Don’t worry! Your answer is definitely within, it’s just time to find it.

Whether you want to stay in medicine, go non-clinical or find something completely different.

I hope to show all the different specialties available (especially the lesser known ones), non-clinical job options and how other medics have carved out their own trail.

Balanced Medics is all about stepping out of the box and living in a way that celebrates all of ourselves. Finding our strengths and values, and working with them.

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