Don’t ignore your intuition when choosing a doctor’s specialty

Avani Patel, MD, MHA, felt something was wrong when completing the standings list for the winter of 2019.

A process that should have been exciting, if anxiety-inducing, brought little joy. Instead, she constantly questioned why she ranked so many anesthesiology training programs at the top of the list. Psychiatric programs that we felt would be a good fit for dual applicants were retained on this list as preliminary candidates.

“I’m very disappointed, and others are looking forward to the game and graduation,” Dr. Patel said in an interview for the AMA’s “Things to Know About Medical School” series. “And that made me feel very sad and I thought, ‘That’s not normal.'”

Realizing that he may not have fully understood his specialty preferences before beginning the residency selection process, Dr. Patel made the unusual decision to withdraw from the bout. To further explore her options, she spent her one year completing her Master of Health Administration degree with an emphasis on her executive-level leadership (CEO or CMO-level leadership). I took a vacation. During that period, she found her psychiatry to be her passion.

Dr. Patel, now in his third year as a psychiatric resident, is glad he followed his heart. Years after her winding road to psychiatric residency, she offered medical students who may be limiting their options insight into what they wished they had known in medical school when choosing a specialty. provided.

“I loved my psychiatric rotation. But I pushed it aside and ignored it, when other people said, ‘I can’t do this, what if no one takes me seriously?’ of?” What if your career doesn’t go as planned? 』

“Keep in mind that mental health is at the forefront now, especially during and after the pandemic. It was prejudiced and still feels somewhat prejudiced, and frankly that’s the culture I grew up in. Mental health wasn’t that much of a priority, and mental health is a priority in the South. It wasn’t a matter: I was often told by my mentors, “Maybe I should think about psychiatry.” People will think that you need to know something and that you will never get the same level of respect unless you choose a different specialty. ”

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The truth is that as a psychiatrist now that I am a resident, I actually find more medical problems than most people realize. Prior to making a psychiatric diagnosis, general medical knowledge must be sharpened to consider the level of possible drug interactions and to rule out other diagnoses. I don’t treat common medical conditions because they are out of my reach, but I do know how to recognize and manage what might be urgent or wrong. you understand it really well. And it saved the lives of many patients I saw in the clinic and sent them to the ER right away.

“The same principles apply even if you are in a different specialty. This is why I am a strong believer in the importance of medical school, especially in the field of psychiatry.People tend to forget that I am a doctor. It allows for the safest and highest quality care.The complex training in medical school has enabled me to perform well in my work.”

“I remember when I was a medical student, and for four years I was determined to become an anesthesiologist to pursue pain management,” Dr. Patel said. “I wanted to have my own operating room, but I couldn’t see anything else. They were blindfolds because I felt so strongly about surgery and being a strong female doctor.”

“Most people who get into medical school tend to have a Type A personality. Be prepared and open-minded in the sense that circumstances can change. I once scoffed at that advice, but no words were truer. ”

“You might say you want to go to medical school and become a pediatrician. “But it’s also possible that it’s not what you like.

“For example, I came in wanting to do something completely procedural, where I would probably talk very little with patients, and now I’m doing the opposite. You’re going to talk to your patients all the time, so I think these are important questions to ask yourself as you’re going through.It’s perfectly fine to have a plan, but we change. , allow us to step out of that box. People change, and there is power in feeling that acceptance.”

“I knew very early on in my rotation that I wasn’t going to be a surgeon. I think it’s very important to understand your skill set. Others may find the procedure not the way they want it and want a different kind of experience in addition to continuing their relationship with the patient. yeah.

“It depends on what you really want. Two big questions you should always ask yourself: ‘Do I want the procedure or do I not want to?’ It’s a question you should ask yourself as you go through. ”

“It’s perfectly fine to have an idea of ​​what you want to do, but if there’s even the slightest chance that you’ll be interested in something more competitive, everyone will say: Aim for a star, Strive hard for what you have the potential to be a star,” says Dr. Patel, “because it’s much easier to fall into a mid-level specialty than it is to be in a more competitive one.” Told.

“For example, when I was in medical school, anesthesiology was a more competitive specialty than psychiatry at the time. I knew that if I worked hard in all my extracurricular activities, I would be set for success, and of course I understand that we all plan that way. I also accepted that it would be okay if I ended up relying on a specialization with more training slots, or a slightly less competitive one. .”

“The cost of becoming a doctor, especially the amount of loan required, is very worrying,” Dr. Patel said. “So, essentially, almost every medical student I talk to is thinking, ‘Yeah, I’m going to be a surgeon,’ or ‘I’m going to be a gastroenterologist.'” I plan to become a cardiologist. Because these are more competitive specialties and tend to pay significantly higher salaries.

“From a financial point of view, don’t be blind to what you can get out of your profession, because in terms of your overall well-being, it will only last long. I think it’s arranged to be rewarded in a way that overcomes the cost of , in fact there are many scholarships and service related opportunities that can help with this too, just sacrifice your own happiness for the check. And frankly, I think we’ve all been guilty of that thought process at some point.

“When you sacrifice your happiness, you experience more regret. And you also increase burnout. So what if you get severe depression or something and can’t work?”

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“I must ask myself: what do I want from myself? [my]What will life be like in the future? How important is work-life balance? Will being in the hospital bring me joy?or so [like] Could an 8v5 format bring more balance to my life?”

“These are the golden questions because the answers are different for everyone. , I wanted to choose a specialty that would give me a very balanced working hours and opportunities for continuity.

“One of the challenges is that everyone has different goals for how they want to live their lives in the future. Even more so if it is a thing.

“Many medical students may not be married, not in a serious relationship, or even have children, and some do. Once you know if it’s what you want for your future, how does your choice of specialty affect that, and vice versa? No, but I’ve always wanted to. I can’t schedule when that will happen, but it played a big part in my choice of specialization as well.”

“I know it feels like this is the final decision, but it really isn’t,” Dr. Patel said. “Not everyone goes the same way. I know that traditionally, you have to make a decision by the third year and have a happy match in the fourth year, but that’s not everyone’s story. Ask a mentor, a friend, and use the AMA network, because there are many people, including myself, who are willing to be mentored by untraditional physicians.

AMA provides tools to assist in choosing a medical specialty. FREIDA’s Professional Guides and corresponding series of videos that provide expert insight into choosing a specialization provide a clear and friendly overview of medical specialties and subspecialties to help you choose your career path. It is designed to simplify the medical student’s specialization selection process, highlight key specialties, detail training information, and provide access to relevant association information.

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