Putting the Anxiety Cart Before the Horse

bropoalypse

Anxiety about your competitive specialty ambitions in your first year isn’t worth it.

Listener Luis wrote in expressing his anxiety that his med school–which he’ll begin attending this fall–doesn’t have the prestige or programs to support his desire for a competitive specialty like ophthalmology. If that’s the case, he wondered, what can he do to increase his chances of obtaining his dream career? Fortunately for Luis, Irisa Mahaparn, Gabe Conley, Brendan George, Jason Lewis, and new co-host Andres Dajles were on hand to give Luis the advice and encouragement he needs…and a tiny dose of tough love, too.

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Changing Your Mind—And Your Specialty

I’ve written about choosing a medical specialty throughout the third and even fourth years of medical school, but further discussion is warranted regarding the students who don’t choose a specialty in this “typical” timeframe. It is worth mentioning first of all: many people change their minds for many different reasons. I continue to be impressed by the students, residents, and attendings I meet who took circuitous and sometimes truly fascinating routes to become physicians. The same is true for finding one’s niche as a certain type of physician. Many students feel like everyone else has things figured out, but the truth is the path is not always clear cut. Even when the majority achieve a certain stage (e.g. practicing physician) by the standard route, there are always exceptions, and students may be surprised and encouraged at the myriad ways they can reach their career goals.

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Q&A with Dr. Ali Wong, Plastic Surgery Resident and Creator of Sketchy Medicine

Dr. Ali Wong is a plastic surgery resident in Nova Scotia, Canada and creator of the website Sketchy Medicine, in which she shares graphical representations of various medical concepts. Dr. Wong received her Bachelor of Science with Honours in Neuroscience (2009) and her MD (2013) at Dalhousie University. Following initial year in residency, she went on to receive an MSE (Master of Science in Engineering) from Johns Hopkins University (2016). Dr. Wong has been published in Plastic and Reconstructive SurgeryJournal of Hand Therapy, and Behavioral Brain Research.

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Getting What You Want: Considering Both Life and Career Goals When Choosing a Specialty

Chronicles of a Med Student

Under the glow of the OR lights, I could barely make out the pulsating artery through all the layers of fat. This is so cool I thought to myself. Since my first rotation had been internal medicine, I hadn’t seen a lot of hands on stuff like this. As the OB/GYN swiftly cut through the layers of fascia to get to the target ovary, I watched her quick hands harvest it and pull it out of the body cavity. The ovary itself was grossly misshapen as she gently laid it onto the mayo stand to clean it up before shipping it off to pathology. I held it in my hands and thought of how the patient would no longer have to bear the burden of the things this overgrowth was doing to her body. The surgery was a success and the doctor predicted a very good outcome and quality of life for the young patient from now on. How incredible!

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Applying for Residency

Last month I wrote about the early part of 4th year as a kind of second-look for medical students – an occasion for confirming specialty choice, or perhaps changing one’s mind altogether. For me, it has been an enjoyable and enlightening process to revisit the specialties I was most interested in and examine them more thoroughly, paying attention to finer details as I considered what a career in that specialty would entail beyond the years of residency. The specialty decision is often made on just a few weeks of exposure and may be highly influenced by observing residents, but it is important to remember that residency is relatively brief in the context of a career, and thus it is imperative to get opinions on the field of choice from practicing attending physicians. I have been grateful for opportunities to do just this; rotating through a field a second or third time has enabled me to make this aspect more of a priority.

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3 Ways to Explore Medical Specialties

Medicine is a vast field comprised of specialties so different that it’s hard to believe they stem from the same core training. Once you’ve made the important decision to pursue a career as a physician, you must then begin the process of sifting through various medical specialties to identify your own interests. But with limited or no training, you might ask what steps you can take to begin narrowing down your options. Whether you are in high school, college, or have already begun medical school, consider these options as you begin exploring the various medical specialties:

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Choosing a Specialty: Taking a Second Look

fourth year

By Brent Schnipke

As I have spoken with physicians, residents, and other medical students about the process of choosing a medical specialty, the near-universal reply has something to do with the fact that third-year rotations barely offer enough exposure to each specialty to make an informed decision. Third-year medical students move quickly between specialties, and are often granted only a few weeks to examine a given career choice and decide whether they like it or not. Because of this, major decisions about how a medical student will practice as a doctor are largely based on brief experiences that can be easily biased by particular patients, residents, attendings, hospital systems, and even external life factors. To control for these variables, most students will finish their third year and use the first part of their fourth year to take a “second look” at the specialty they are planning to apply for and to help those students who remain undecided.

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Residency: The Interview and Selection Process

Medical Spouse

Residency applications! The light at the end of the tunnel, and the process that will chart the course for the next 3+ years of your life and your spouse’s medical career. No big deal, or anything! It is an incredibly exciting time, while also being quite unsettling. Here’s what to expect and how to make it as joyful of a process as possible.

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The Year of Privilege, Part 2

In my last article, I wrote about my perspective on the third year of medical school and how it has evolved over the course of this year. Medical education is unfortunately sparse with free time, which makes it difficult to reflect; writing these posts has been one way for me to slow down and process all the things I’ve seen, the knowledge I’ve gained, and the relationships I’ve built with patients. It was the process of doing this that led to last month’s article, highlighting some of the amazing things I’ve gotten to do this year and some general themes about the clinical side of medical school.

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Popular Specialty Areas – and What Med Students Should Know About Them

popular specialty areas

For medical school students, perhaps one of the most difficult choices to be made in the course of their education is what area of medicine to specialize in—or whether to go into general practice. Part of this problem is the wide variety of specialties to choose from: the AMA lists around 200 medical specialties and sub-specialties.

Part of it also may be that there are a variety of factors–from expected income to the demand for certain specialties to the personalities and preferences of the individual medical student–to be taken into consideration before a decision can be made. Understanding all of these factors can take some time, but it can also make this very important decision a little easier.

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The Undifferentiated Medical Student Podcast: Your Virtual Mentor for Choosing a Specialty

What is the Undifferentiated Medical Student podcast? Give us an intro.
TUMS is an interview-based podcast about choosing a medical specialty and planning a career in medicine. Many medical students feel lost when it comes to picking a medical specialty and planning their careers (myself included). There are many reasons for this (and some I personally faced):
-they are overwhelmed by the number of options
-they may feel they don’t understand enough medicine yet to start the discussion
-they don’t have a mentor

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Why Med-Peds? A Current Resident’s Perspective

med-peds residents

The transition from eager-to-learn-everything MS3 to self-assured MS4 with a clear residency goal comes much easier for some than others. I had planned on going into Family Medicine throughout the better part of medical school, but late in third year discovered the combined specialty Internal Medicine and Pediatrics (Med-Peds). How was I supposed to explain my interest in this four year program to my friends, mentors and, toughest yet, medicine department chair when I was just beginning to understand it myself? And then the inevitable follow-up question, why not just complete the three year Family Medicine (FM) residency program? FM training remains the perfect choice for many students looking to get broad-based, comprehensive training on how to care for people of all ages. The purpose of this article is to point out the subtle differences between these residency paths and give my top five reasons for why Med-Peds (MP) is a unique, exciting and attractive residency option for about 400 budding young doctors every year.

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