Career Planning Advice

Select Your Specialty

Evaluating specialization options and making a decision is an important, rewarding, and sometimes daunting step! First, several specialties can provide you with professional satisfaction and success. The various strategies will be used to identify them. Some strategies will work better for one person than for others. Considering what works best for you, such as systematic approaches like weighing the pros and cons and/or spontaneous approaches like following your intuition.

Decision-Making Strategies

  1. Identify your strategies: How have you made your decisions in the past? List the strategies you used to choose. For example, how did you choose your university, your college? Did you consult people around you? Did you visit any places or read information about the establishments? When making important decisions, be sure to focus on strategies that work for you.
  2. Update your CiM results: Do you need to update your results to reflect your findings of yourself and your experience? Review and compare the CiM results with the specialty information you have collected. Check to see if a specialty more closely matches your MSPI or PVIPS results. Do you need to explore other specialties to make an informed decision? Indeed, your insights and your clinical experience will influence your reflection, your knowledge of yourself and especially the planned specialty projects. Update your information and look for accurate information.
  3. Discuss the options: What specialty are you considering? How confident are you in your ability to succeed? How competitive are you? Are you realistic and do you need a parallel plan? Discuss your choice of specialty with people you trust and who know you well. They can give you useful ideas and opinions. The choice is ultimately yours, but get feedback from trusted colleagues and mentors.
  4. Write down your plans: Write a personal statement for each specialty you are considering. Is it easier to explain why you want to be in one specialty rather than another? If you find it difficult to write about the specialty you have chosen, you may have more thought to do. Program directors and professors will ask you how and why you considered a specific specialty. Your ability to articulate your suitability and career goals will help you both to select, but also to answer questions during the residency application process and interviews.

About the Decisional Process

Before the summer of the third year, you will find it useful to have made a specialty decision. That way, you'll have time to research residency programs, prepare application materials, and be ready for your fourth year. Don't worry if you are still undecided, you can do internships in the specialties you are considering at the beginning of the fourth year.


Adapted from Making your specialty decision. In Careers in Medicine, 2022

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