Our Future Specialty: Getting ahead of the game in medical school?

What specialty we will practice for the rest of our careers is a discussion that frequently crops up amongst my peers at medical school. We have even decided it will be quite amusing and interesting to write down the specialty that we see ourselves in and the specialty that we see each other in and open them in 6 or 7 years time to see how they match up. Could be entertaining. I honestly have no real idea what I would like to put down at the moment though.

Currently, I’ve just picked my area of interest for my BMedSci intercalated degree and have decided to do a project in something related to surgery. I’m currently in the process of chatting to supervisors and coming up with a specific project. Surgery appeals to me because of the idea of fixing the problem that is in front of you, as you see it. I have my misgivings about surgery mostly because of the sexism that still unfortunately exists around this career choice but I cannot deny my fascination with it, and no not just because of Grey’s Anatomy (though I absolutely love love love Grey’s on another note!). I hope that by conducting my research project in this area I can gain more insight into surgery and the demands of this career, because undoubtedly it will be a tough road should I choose to go down it.

It is extremely difficult whilst at medical school to know how to go about gaining the necessary evidence to show your investment in a particular specialty. These days we are told that because competition is fierce we should get ahead of the game and start getting some relevant experience and go to relevant conferences. On the other hand though you can’t go to conferences for every subject and specialty and I don’t want to narrow down just yet. Interestingly a lot of people in their foundation years who I have spoken to have said not to worry about it too much at medical school and just to try and get exposure to specialties that you feel you would be interested in. But then again, having experience such as a publication in your future specialty must surely be a boost?

I recently (I say recently, I literally just) read this article in the student BMJ about what some people had said they would have done differently to smooth out their career paths with hindsight.

Here’s the link:

(You may have to register for free to be able to read the full article, but if you are interested I’d recommend a read.)

For me at the moment I think the most relevant points are to:

– Take more opportunities to experience different specialties

– Ask more questions about different specialties 

So I will take that into my project and my chats with supervisors to try and gain some experience to see if surgery really is for me and if it’s not then I’ll take a look at some other specialties.

I think that for the most part that is the most important thing we can do in medical school, ensure that we really want to do said specialty for the rest of our careers. By all means if you are certain that being a GP is your calling then gaining relevant experience and publications/presentations in primary healthcare will help you no end but for the rest of us just working out exactly what we want to do is the first, and most important hurdle.

Anyone else reading who is currently in medical school, what are your thoughts on getting ahead of the game?