** In Collaboration**
Choosing a career in medicine is just the first step in becoming a doctor. The biggest decision that you will have to make in the career is selecting which field of medicine you will go into and specialise in. Whether it’s obstetrics, family medicine, gynaecology or even the biggy – neurosurgery alongside people like Dr Timothy Steel – there is a field out there perfectly suited for you.
The problem is working out which one you want to do. It’s a decision that will affect the rest of your career, so it is important to make sure it is the right one. You need to consider many different factors, which we will look into in this article.
The work environment
Each speciality has a balance between inpatient (hospital) and outpatient (clinic) medicine. When thinking about the field of medicine you want to go into, it is important to consider whether you love the pressure and intensity of caring for critically ill patients, or whether you want to be part of their long term recovery in an outpatient clinic.
Research and academic opportunities
In pretty much every speciality, there is (or should be) the opportunity to advance your skills and knowledge and get involved in research. However, some areas have better chances than others at offering academic prestige and funding.
Whatever field you go into, there’s going to be long hours and pressure. That’s the very nature of the job. However, some are better than others. Areas where operating is a big part of the job can be more strenuous and demanding on your time and emotions than a general family practitioner, for example.
The relationship with patients
What sort of relationship do you want to have with your patients? If you are looking for areas where you can build up a long term, ongoing relationship with the people you are treating, then primary care or general practitioner may be more your thing. If you want the instant gratification of helping someone in an emergency, an ER doctor or surgeon may be the area more suited for you.
Unfortunately, medical school fees and the loans that many have to take out to get through it mean that for some aspiring doctors, the salary is a big factor in choosing a field to specialise in. Doctors in private speciality practices can earn an awful lot more than family practice doctors, and sadly, this is something you might need to think about.
This is one of the main things that should influence your decision. There is little point in going into paediatrics if you dislike children, or becoming a podiatrist if you are squeamish about feet!
In summary, deciding on your medical career path is a big decision with many things influencing it. No one field will be perfect, but there is one out there for you that will bring immense job satisfaction and hopefully, a great work-life balance.