Picking a specialty

One of the things I love about being done with the required clinical rotations is that my grade is no longer dependent on my career choice.  Most rotations were fine, but there were definitely instances.  The maternal-fetal medicine fellow on OB, for example, who said out of earshot of the attending, “I only talk to students who are interested in OB.” A preceptor ranting that certain fields of medicine were “not worth the time” and “why did you go to medical school anyway, you should have been a nurse.” The surgery residents who stared at me blankly when I answered their “What are you going into?”  And because clinical rotation grades are entirely dependent on your supervisors’ evaluations (the shelf exam counts for only 10% here, unlike many other schools), it’s hard not to feel unsettled when said supervisor grimaces and says “But WHY?”  Some people respond to this pressure by lying — “I want to be a psychiatrist/internist/neurosurgeon/pediatrician/insert-specialty-here.” I refused to play that game.

So what specialty am I choosing?

Neurology, of course!

Looking back, it was kind of a no-brainer. I loved my neurology rotation from day 1.  Psychiatry and medicine were contenders, but ultimately it was the disease-puzzles (which neuro shares with psych) and the logical approach (which neuro shares with medicine) that clinched the deal. I fully admit to the neurologist-nerd stereotype. In summary, “I heart neurology, please accept me to your program.”

Wait, this isn’t a personal statement? Okay, then.

Anyway. Picking a specialty is one of the greatest things about the transition from third year to fourth. You stop feeling the pressure to pretend to be interested; instead you have the freedom to choose things you are interested in.

Good luck, then, to all the third years now starting their rotations.  Sometimes it will suck. Sometimes it’ll be more fun than anything you could ever imagine. Listen to your gut — it will tell you when to eat and when you are doing something so cool you don’t want to do anything else. (But go eat anyway.) Find secret places where residents can’t go so you can vent. Enjoy it when you can, eat chocolate when you can’t, and look forward to the best-kept secret of medical school: fourth year.

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