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3 Criteria For Choosing a Medical Specialty

ProspectiveDoctor asked the question, “What factors are influencing the specialty that you are considering? Why?” Here are 3 criteria for choosing a medical specialty.

A lot of medical students, including myself, arrive at medical school without knowing what specialty they will choose. In addition to the inundation of the curriculum, navigating through the myriad of specialties ensures a constant sentiment of hopelessness and despair. But fear not, there is a not-so-systematic method of choosing a specialty developed by the not-so-qualified writer of this article.

First, we must consider the most important factor of choosing any specialty – money. According to a table on this website, the average neurosurgeon makes over $500,000 per year. In the most practical terms, this means you can purchase approximately 20 Toyota Priuses (Prii?) per year. What fuel efficiency! While possessing a hoard of Prii is near the top of my priority list, let’s discuss a few other ways to select a specialty.

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The second consideration when picking a specialty is fame and recognition. To begin this mental journey, one must ask himself, “How can I get the most people to think I’m smart, sexy, and overall desirable?” After contemplating this question for weeks, I’ve decided Urology is not for me. If someone asks me “What do you do?” I would be abhorred to answer, “I spend my entire career evaluating, touching, and cutting male genitalia.” Easy decision; not for me. This simple question helped me eliminate quite a few specialties off my list; I am positive it will do the same for you.

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After I eliminated specialties based on inadequate compensation and fame, I began to consider which specialty provided the most flexible schedule. One must ask himself, “How can I have the most fun?” After living in California my whole life, I’ve discovered that there are only 11 precious months of the year where the temperature is between 68-73 degrees. Those are the perfect days to play tennis, golf, or bocce ball, and must not be wasted. From what I have heard, much of radiology can be done on an IPad from the beach. If this is true, the perks of this life might be enough to outweigh the boring description of my job, “I look at pictures all day.” Nevertheless, it is an important consideration; think about how you want your daily life to look.

||Read: Choosing a Medical Specialty||

 Above I’ve provided three criteria that most people should reflect on before choosing a specialty – money, reputation, and freedom. Obviously, one would be hard-pressed to find a job that satisfied all of those requirements, but think about the hoard of Prii and the bocce ball. Don’t worry, keep searching. After all, you’re only 200 grand in debt.


Andrew Sumarsono is a 2nd year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

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