Posts tagged career

Part 2: Choosing Electives

One of the first major challenges of applying to residency is making yourself presentable, to tailor your experiences to the career you want to achieve. The last year of school is generally reserved as the time to pursue electives in the various disciplines.

In general, every school has certain requirements that must be achieved, such as having at least one elective in medical, surgical, and primary care specialties. Beyond that however, you have the flexibility to choose whatever you want to do.

Part 1: Knowing Yourself

At some point in the natural order of things, you begin to realize that the journey to medicine is not as straightforward. There was once upon a time when being a doctor meant knowing everything about everything. In this day and age, that has become an impossibility.

With that in mind, you reach the crossroads for a second time: what should I do with my life?

There are many ways to conceptualize the thinking process but it always boils down to three simple questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Do I want to work with your hands?
  2. How comfortable am I not knowing the full picture?
  3. Do I want to know a narrow and deep well of knowledge or a wide and shallower pool of knowledge?

For example, someone who enjoys working with his hands, is comfortable not knowing the full picture and likes a wide but shallower pool might be better suited for emergency medicine.

These three questions are fundamental to understanding where your values and interests lie. As your education progresses, take a moment to reflect. You might be surprised how often and how dramatically things change.

The most crucial time to consider these questions is in the clinical year. Consider how your newfound experiences change or reinforce your choices. 

This becomes important when choosing your fourth year electives.


Making the Match
Part 1: Knowing Yourself

Part 2: Choosing Electives
Part 3: Understanding CaRMS
Part 4: References
Part 5: Research and preparation
Part 6: Creating a schedule
Part 7: Travel planning
Part 8: Interviewing
Part 9: Ranking

For Your Consideration

  • Attending: I think you are doing great. Keep it up.
  • Me: Thanks for the feedback.
  • Attending: I think you would have done well in the specialty.
  • Me: Well...
  • Attending: Ever give us any thought?
  • Me: There was a time, but CaRMS is now over.
  • Attending: There is always the future. Just something to consider if you have a change of heart down the line.

Away from Surgery: Reply

  • Labyrinthine-Waffles: What do you mean when you say you’re not cut out to be a surgeon? Because I know I want to be a surgeon and I’m pretty sure I’m cut out to be, but was wondering why are you doubtful about yourself.
  • When I started third year, I kept an eye on orthopaedics. I realized that as interesting as that work was, I could not get over how repetitive it can be. The generalist orthopaedic surgeon is going the way of the dodo. What is left, the sub-specialist, is perhaps too focused for my taste. For other surgeries, part of the issue became the personality you require to operate. I am a very cautious individual and one who operates better under stable conditions. A surgeon I have come to realize needs to be decisive and work well under intense pressure and changing conditions. I have spoken to the surgical residents and it can be a very very rough residency. Seniors whom I have spoken to who know surgery residents often cite how their friends' personalities change in order to fit the mould. I have utmost respect for the surgeons I have worked with but I decided it was not in my capacity or best interest.
I remember when we first worked together at the beginning of the year. You were so shy and so nervous. Yet, look at you now: you look and sound confident - and rightly so. Your histories and physicals are impeccable and you are formulating sound management plans on your own. I could not be any happier with your progress this year. Just stellar work today.
One of my internal medicine preceptors and role models comments on my development this year.
Hey... I need help. A lot of people have been encouraging me to go and proceed, to study medicine. Even people in my workplace (I'm a nurse, btw. And I'm almost through my first hospital experience post boards). I'm not sure if I want to. When did you really know you wanted to become a doctor? — Asked by Anonymous

I thought about it for a long time but eventually the triggering event that set things in motion for real was when my father was diagnosed with cancer. I felt compelled to pursue medicine because I wanted to help people through the same ordeal I went through and hopefully prevent or treat the illnesses that ailed them. 

You can read a more thorough response here.

Everyone in my class have different motivations and reasons for pursuing medicine. As it turns out there is no right or wrong answer as long as its true to your feelings. Do not feel pressured to study medicine if you do not feel that it is for you. Find something that you are passionate about and resonates with you. Good luck and take care.

Road to Residency

Steven McGaughey, first featured here with his Gastric Subway illustration, has been hard at work on a new website for medical students. A primer to the residency journey, he and his fiancée have worked over the last few months compiling information and useful resources for the application, the interviews, and the match. Check it out.

  • Spreadyawings: That surgeon question is the bomb!, I’ve been asking myself the same question, but I have a few years to make up my mind.
  • There are number of ways to thin the list and when you use them all together it can really help narrow things down. "Do you want to be a surgeon?" is one; "Do you want to work with your hands and how comfortable are you with not knowing the answer?" is another. The newest one I am using is the depth of knowledge approach. "Do I see my future practice as a wide or a tall rectangle along the spectrum of knowledge?"
I have a board exam in five days and I am freaking out. This is the culmination of my life. If I fail it I will have no job.
A R2 stresses over her upcoming OSCE and board exam.
Even after consecutively long days, can I wake up and look forward to working?
The quintessential question that we must all ask ourselves as we consider our careers.