Posts tagged choice

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

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.

  • 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?"
So, i'm a high school senior-to-be, i've been volunteering at my local hospital and doing some job shadowing in different departments, and well my question is, when does anybody, decided exactly where they want go . Right now i'm stuck betwen ER and Labor and Delivery, but i know i'm really young, and i have a lot of time to decided, but when do you usually decide. Lots of questions.. lol i'm sorry! — Asked by honeybeeflowers

That really is a personal discovery and everyone decides at different times. Some people have their hearts set before going into medical school; others while they are in it. Most commonly, people decide in their third year. This is when students are exposed to every specialty and given an opportunity to, for a lack of better words, “test drive” each one. 

Some people find their top choices reaffirmed, but others also find that third year has a tendency to expose a side of themselves or of the specialty that pushes them to change their minds. Thus, usually it is in third year where people dig in their heels.

Having said that, applying for a a residency position in a specialty does not happen until fourth year, and I know of a few students who have changed their minds weeks leading up to the application deadline. People change and circumstances change. What is important at the end of the day though is you keep an open mind and pursue what interests you.

Reinventing the Third Year Medical Student by Dr. Pauline Chen

As I mentioned before, I had some very important decisions to make about my upcoming year. The third year of medical school is exciting and exhilarating but also simultaneously intense and gruelling. This is when we really begin our journey to become competent clerks.

I had the privilege of having choices beyond the classical rotation structure. The integrated clerkship model is one that our faculty has tinkered with and explored for some time. I was interested though unsure about how well this program would fit for me. But after having visited the clerkship sites and spoken with the students and directors, I was thoroughly enamoured with the integrated clerkship’s philosophy and comprehensive care model. 

I am pleased to say that after a very anxious and lengthy application process, I have chosen to go through the integrated clerkship stream for third year.

While I have chosen a fresh trail at this crossroad in my life, I expect an equal or perhaps even richer wealth of experiences on this next leg of my journey.

Read the article to learn more about the drive for integrated clerkships.

I can tell you that we thought that you would do exceptionally well there. It is of my opinion you will succeed anywhere you go for clerkship and beyond.
The third year clerkship director giving me his opinion on my current options and providing me some motivation to believe in my own ability to succeed regardless of my choice.

Decisions, decisions…

As the days tick by, we slowly enter the transition period from second year to third year, a transition from the student to the clerk, a transition from the academic to the clinical.

It has been an indecisive and difficult start.

Creeping up fast are the site rankings for our summer rural rotation. The deadline? Tomorrow at midnight. A month will be spent at a rural site to gain exposure to rural medicine and family practice in the context of isolation. This is an important experience for any up and coming doctor, especially those who have grown up in sprawling urban jungles for most of their lives.

Perhaps most crucial at this point is the choice between a classical rotation and an integrated clerkship model for third year. My choice will dictate a whole year’s worth of learning.

Two weeks ago, I boarded a plane to visit one of these integrated clerkship sites, to see if I found it suitable to my learning style. It was exciting but left me unsure of myself. After speaking with the students there and seeing how the program was run, it seemed like a challenging program. I was reassured that everyone feels that way initially and that everyone eventually slips into the role. 

Recently, I went to visit my second site of interest. The program there had a different personality, one that I felt resonated more with who I am and how I learn. However, there were again pros and cons to this site that placed it on equal footing with the other site I visited.

The problem now is how I must weigh these points, and if they are truly relevant. I must not lose sight of why I expressed interest in the integrated clerkship in the first place: to learn; that is what must guide my choices in this matter.

It is a decision that I must not make lightly.

I will think about it.

Third Year Decisions.
Anxious, panic-stricken, sheer terror in people’s eyes. It has been utter pandemonium since we came back to class three weeks ago. The reason? Clerkships.
There are two options that are currently available to us: the classical rotation model, where students go spend time in dedicated blocks in every specialty; the other option is the integrated clerkship, where you have no dedicated block of learning but learn all specialties throughout the year.
There are pros and cons to both programs. I have been open to both options and still have not made up my mind though I am leaning towards the integrated model; others decided long ago and have stood by their choices. Whatever we choose, it all comes to a head when we submit our candidacies at the end of the month.

Third Year Decisions.

Anxious, panic-stricken, sheer terror in people’s eyes. It has been utter pandemonium since we came back to class three weeks ago. The reason? Clerkships.

There are two options that are currently available to us: the classical rotation model, where students go spend time in dedicated blocks in every specialty; the other option is the integrated clerkship, where you have no dedicated block of learning but learn all specialties throughout the year.

There are pros and cons to both programs. I have been open to both options and still have not made up my mind though I am leaning towards the integrated model; others decided long ago and have stood by their choices. Whatever we choose, it all comes to a head when we submit our candidacies at the end of the month.

After attending a series of university fairs, I noticed that all universities appeared to be saying the same thing, with regards to their medical schools: One does not need to study Life Science in their undergrad years (or complete a BSc. for that matter) in order to be accepted. Most claimed the MCAT score was of more importance. My question is, is this true? Could I study business in my undergraduate years and still get into medical school? How exactly do systems like this work? — Asked by Anonymous

Well anonymous, I cannot say with certainty that the MCAT score is more important. That is really the choice of the school to assign that weight. However, the former statement is definitely true. You do not need to study life sciences in order to go into medical school. I have actually two classmates who studied business before going into medical school, one who came from creative writing, and another who came from industrial design.

The way this works is that you must have at least completed their pre-requisite courses. These might include chemistry and biology etc. and would have to be taken as electives. Each university has their own requirements.

eljefedelosreyes adds: “Regarding that anon about undergraduate work, I want to personally say that I came from a Latin American/Caribbean History and Economic Policy Analysis background. Worked out :)”

What made you decide on becoming a doctor and not a nurse? — Asked by Anonymous

Hm…I have never really looked at it that way before. I am sure everyone has their personal reasons. I think it is important to realize that while doctors and nurses work hand in hand with each other and with other professions in the health care system, everyone’s job is equally important when it comes to the care of the patient. We all must work as a unit.

Through the years, looking at things from a career perspective, one of the things that I really gravitated to is problem solving and looking at the big picture and figuring out the puzzle. In pharmacy, there was a problem solving component when it came to identifying a patient’s needs and figuring out the underlying issues surrounding their drug therapy. When it comes to medicine, there is that whole component of identifying conditions or reasons why a patient becomes ill and finding ways to solve that. Even nursing has a diagnostic and problem solving component to it when it comes to patient care and comfort. 

Growing up, I was interested in medicine and just the whole patient care aspect; a lot of that interest was eventually built in my secondary school years, when I got to speak to a number of doctors. Those experiences influenced my desires to go into medicine. Another moment in time that influenced me to choose medicine was my father’s battle with colon cancer, which he lost a few short months after diagnosis. There are a lot of things I saw in that time that impressed upon me the complexity of the medical profession and reinforced my desires to become a doctor.