Career Planning Advice

Explore your Options

To identify one or more specialties corresponding to your talents, we recommend the ongoing process of exploring professional options from the start of your training. This process aims to distinguish the contexts in which you will be satisfied and those in which you will be at your best.

Concretely, from the first year, you will preferably have completed the self-assessment questionnaire to summarize what you know about yourself initially. Then, to represent your findings and self-awareness to date, you will do the questionnaires again for more and more orienting results. In addition, comparing your results with the samples of professionals working in the specialties will promote the recognition of similarities and gaps between your profile and the specialization options that will help manage your expectations.

Throughout the learning blocks, doctors, professors, and panellists present the professional characteristics of the multiple specialties. In addition, your exploratory activities in the following years will be an opportunity to establish relationships between you, your preferences, your personality, your aptitudes and one or more specialties with contexts that will be more favourable to your success.

Good exploratory habits and a rigorous process will reduce difficulties in selecting specialties

  1. Resist the temptation to focus on a perfect specialty and instead take steps back to broaden your perspective.
  2. Reflect on your skills, abilities and accomplishments.
  3. During your clinical activities, specify what attracts you and what repels you.
  4. Keep a journal or log to record your internship experience, capture your views on these criteria and even for other identified aspects.
  5. Document your observations and look for patterns.

Specialty Differentiation Criteria

  • Inpatient or outpatient care
  • Different age groups, genders
  • Diagnosis or procedures
  • Breadth rather than depth of the problems
  • Short-term, long-term, or continuing care
  • Direct or indirect communication with the patient

Some exploration questions

What did you learn? What surprised you?
What elements of the rotation did you like more or less?

The initial objective is to identify types of patients, conditions, contexts and tasks you wish to carry out to satisfy you. Then, you will be able to recognize among the specialties explored those which correspond to your highest priorities by having the least unwanted elements possible.

For example, if you need long-term patient relationships in your medical practice, you'll eliminate several specialties that don't have this type of interaction, such as emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and radiology.

Identifying preferences and what you wish to avoid will simplify sorting and evaluating specialties. When you have narrowed the number, take a closer look at the selected one by identifying the advantages and disadvantages. You can also identify and rank your career expectations, and reflect on how each can best meet them. Several exercises and approaches can help you choose and you can consult the associated resources in the action plan.

Make an appointment with the career advisor to involve her throughout your process. She can help you by listening to your ideas and identifying with you the gaps in your knowledge and reasoning.

Adaptation from Pokorny, A. Finding the right specialty. from Careers in Medicine 2022.

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