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Choosing Your Specialty

Understand Yourself

Sound vocational theory says you’re more likely to be satisfied in your professional life if your career matches your personal and environmental characteristics such as interests, values, personality, and skills. In medicine, these aspects of yourself can be reflected in your preferred practice setting(s), patient type(s), medical condition(s), colleagues, and tasks and activities. Finding your fit entails first exploring who you are and what you want for your life, then identifying those career options that will support those goals and in which you can thrive.

Explore Options

Everything you do and learn during medical school contributes to the total package you submit when applying for residency. However, it's not just the events that take place (e.g., a research project, a leave of absence), but how you handle them. No one expects you to be perfect — but residency programs do expect to see that you try hard, learn from your mistakes, are open to feedback, and strive to improve.

Maximize your experiences during medical school, learning and growing as much as possible. Use these strategies to strive for positive outcomes including personal and professional development as well as to successfully recover from and move past less than ideal situations.

Make the Decision

With all the information you’ll have gathered about yourself and your options, you should be well equipped to choose your specialty with confidence. However, that doesn’t mean your final decision will be easy. It requires that you compile all you’ve learned and seriously analyze where you best fit. You’ll need to prioritize your personal characteristics as well as your career goals and assess how well the specialties you’re considering meet those needs.