What Type of Doctor Should I Be?

As third year medical students, my classmates and I have passed the halfway point of our medical school careers and it is a good time for us to start thinking more about what we’d be interested in doing for our careers. Many of us probably entered medical school thinking we know exactly what we wanted to do. I certainly did. Some of us still hold onto those same aspirations, but many of us may have re-evaluated our original thoughts and broadened our considerations, especially as we become exposed more and more to the different fascinating medical specialties during our clinical portion of our training. Although I have learned a lot about what Psychiatry and Internal Medicine are about with my rotations in these specialties thus far, what I learned more about is myself.

Before coming to medical school, and even during Basic Sciences, I would not have even considered a field like psychiatry. But after experiencing working with patients in the ward for 10 weeks, I was quite surprised that I actually enjoyed it, and found it satisfying, and I wondered to myself why. Is it because I newly discovered how much behavior fascinates me? Is it because each patient has a unique story to tell and presents with a different challenge to solve? Will I feel the same way with all the other specialties that I rotate in? While our interests in certain topics may change, as it often does in life, some things will never change for me. I will always be interested in people, and love caring for people long term. I will always enjoy guiding others, and feel gratitude and honored in being a part of people’s lives. And for this reason, I will have to find a specialty that will not just satisfy my interest, but complement my nature.

While reading through some blogs of AUC grads, I came across a test created by University of Virginia School of Medicine that attempts to suggest which specialties of medicine you have the most aptitude for. The test makes you fill out a questionaire of 130 questions, and calculates based on personality and preferences which specialties in medicine would be most fit for you. I was skeptical about this test at first, but after seeing the results, I gotta admit, it is actually quite accurate, at least for me. Fields like family practice, psychiatry, pediatrics, and preventative medicine all really appeal to me, and all of them are ranked within the top ten in my test results (see chart below). Other specialties like surgery, orthopedics, Ob/Gyn are fields I think may be interesting but cannot foresee myself doing them for the rest of my life, and they happen to show up at the bottom of the list. However, I am surprised to see dermatology high on this list, as I’d imagine I might find it a little boring just looking at skin all day, and as for physical med and rehabilitation (PM&R), it’s something I’ve never thought about but perhaps I could look more into what it’s all about, and why they say I may be more fitting for it.

But no matter what any matchmaking calculator may tell me, what’s most important is finding out for myself a field that I would truly enjoy doing and feel fulfilled as a person doing it. We only have one life to live, and we’ll have to live it doing what we love. And now, as a clinical student, it is my job not only to put effort in the field I think I might want to pursue, but to be open and put effort in every field I come across, so that I have utmost understanding of what’s best for my future.

Here are my results! If you’re interested in seeing what specialty you may be fit for, please check out UVA’s Medical Specialty Aptitude Test here.

   Rank Specialty Score
1 family practice 48
2 pediatrics 48
3 med oncology 47
4 dermatology 46
5 physical med & rehabilitation 46
6 psychiatry 46
7 general internal med 45
8 rheumatology 45
9 preventive med 44
10 occupational med 44
11 radiology 43
12 radiation oncology 43
13 nephrology 42
14 hematology 42
15 allergy & immunology 41
16 anesthesiology 40
17 endocrinology 40
18 pathology 40
19 colon & rectal surgery 39
20 gastroenterology 39
21 infectious disease 38
22 neurology 38
23 neurosurgery 37
24 aerospace med 37
25 nuclear med 37
26 pulmonology 37
27 emergency med 37
28 plastic surgery 36
29 thoracic surgery 35
30 obstetrics/gynecology 35
31 ophthalmology 34
32 cardiology 34
33 orthopaedic surgery 33
34 otolaryngology 31
35 urology 31
36 general surgery 30

5 comments to What Type of Doctor Should I Be?

  • S.B.

    Hi Benji! My name is Saif, and I have been following your diary for few months. First off, I would like to thank you for making such a great resource for us to learn more about AUC– kudos! Anyway, I am sending you this message to ask you to review a petition on the White House website titled “Call upon Congress to increase the number of Graduate Medical Education Residency Slots for US Citizen & resident IMGs.” the link to the petition is https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions/%21/petition/call-upon-congress-increase-number-graduate-medical-education-residency-slots-us-citizen-resident/KvjLkGG9?utm_source=wh.gov&utm_medium=shorturl&utm_campaign=shortur

    If you agree with the petition, would you please sign it and post it on your blog as soon as you can? I truly hope you do! Take care, S.B.

    • Benji

      Thanks Saif for the petition link. We definitely need to do what we can to alleviate the physician shortage and access to health care in this country, and as IMGs, we have to understand how we can help.

      • S.B.

        Thanks Benji for your response! I hope that you were able to sign the petition! As of today, we need 24,204 responses by May 11th, 2012 to receive an official response from the U.S. president about the issue. May I suggest that this would be your next topic in your blog? I know there are many people who follow your blog, and it would be great if more people are aware of this petition and the physician shortage issue in general! Thanks Benji, and congratulations on your wedding!

  • Carrie

    Hi Benji! Thanks again so much for your blog. I am starting AUC in the fall and it is helping me so much. I was wondering…when is the absolute point that you must declare a specialty? In other words, how long can I wait before I decide? Thanks!

    • Benji

      Hi Carrie, you don’t have to know until you apply for residencies during your fourth year. Some people decide to apply to many different specialties for residency, and then go through the match to see which one you get into. However, most people know what they want to go into by that time. When you apply for residencies, always have a backup specialty to be safe.

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