“So, What Type of Doctor Do You Want to Be?”

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I’m sure I was asked,”So, what type of doctor do you want to be?”, in several hundred forms. When I was a premed, I didn’t openly declare it, so I was pelted by this query too frequently early on. I sort of did premedical classes on the side, not really thinking much would come of it, besides the physiology minor that had overlapping courses. It was really much later, when I started studying for the MCAT that I started to be asked this question. During the MCAT, I found it easier to concentrate when I wasn’t at home, so I studied almost exclusively at Starbucks — I’m a proud gold member. There’s a consequence to being the MCAT Starbucks hobo, you engage in a lot of random conversations and you get asked the dreaded “What type of doc?” question. It may surprise you that a lot of people, both premed and medical students, may struggle with this question — neither the less it’s true.

To illustrate my point, at BUSM I met an attending physician who started off with the intent of going into family medicine, but they are now a trauma surgeon at the busiest trauma center in the region. So, I know I’ll probably waver in my choice, so I’m not that interested in pinning down what I’ll specialize in yet. There are over 120 specialties and sub-specialties, so I’d like some time to mull over my choices more during my M3 time. During that time, I’ll be during rotations so for now I’d rather focus on just making sure I’m competent during M1 and M2 — with a strong foundation anything else is possible.

What I think I’ll do…maybe…

Though, it’s not like I’m going into the process completely blind, I do have a vague idea of what I’d like to do; though, both choices are pretty far apart. I’m interested in cardiovascular medicine (preventative and/or possibly invasive). There’s two reasons for this: 1) my research during college involved me interpreting and crunching numbers from an oscilloscope on muscle tissue and heart is just a specialized type of muscle tissue, and 2) I like many others have seen cardiovascular disease take loved ones away (and a lot of it is rather preventable). During the course of my research project we had to work more with molecular biology, and although I studied a different signaling cascade, I became interested in cellular signaling disruptions and it’s relation to cancer. Later, I volunteered in a children’s oncology ward where I taught science and math to inpatients to help them keep up with school. For totally different reasons I was a constant inpatient growing up as well. Spending time with these kids was probably one of the highlights of my life for a variety of reasons.

Specialty according to survey

Well, I did take one of those specialty finding surveys last year while I was interviewing for fun. You can find a few medical specialty surveys out there if you Google around for them. There’s also one sponsored by the AAMC, but you need a “careers in medicine” upgraded account to access it (free for medical students, cash membership for others). Anyways, here were my survey from results said (several months back):


Surprisingly, cardiovascular medicine didn’t show up in my top 10, but medical oncology and radiation oncology came up as my #1 and #5 respectively in this survey. I really have no idea what I’ll do to be honest, but I’ll definitely will keep medical oncology research opportunities in mind.  Though OB/GYN part shocked me, I’m not even sure what to do with babies when they’re near me — I tend to hold them lack a sack of musky potatoes. Hematology wasn’t that big of a surprise either, but plastic surgery in general was. I used to have to do micro dissections of a mouse palm, pulling two muscle groups out without significantly damaging the muscle fibers.  If you were sloppy, and “manhandled” the muscle fibers the whole surgery was a waste of time, as was the whole experiment day. I both loved and hated this type of task, I suppose it’s not that far off from surgery. I liked the physical part of the task. But, what made it annoyingly tedious was that you had to pin muscle groups down with pins, handled by tweezers, and do the whole procedure with tiny tools using a dissection microscope. That means that all of my movement was always backwards and upside down. I suppose in human surgery I’ll be able to see straight, that might be a lot cooler.  So, I’ll keep surgery in mind as well.

Well, if you’re like me and have no idea what you’ll specialize in, don’t feel alone! I have a hard time even deciding what I’ll eat for lunch.




6 thoughts on ““So, What Type of Doctor Do You Want to Be?”

    Stethescopes&Armbars said:
    June 15, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I think it’s best to wait! I would say 40% of my class has changed (even quite drastically) during this M3 year what they want to do. Some even switch multiple times. And there is still 10-15% of my class who really doesn’t know yet because M3 shook them to their foundation. I think that’s the best part of medical school – seeing where everyone finds their nische during M3, especially those who find it in the most unexpected places! One friend said during M2 “I would NEVER do gyn, ever” and guess what? She’s applying for ob/gyn now. It’s the greatest adventure of them all!

      doctororbust responded:
      June 15, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Thanks for replying and following! Also, I appreciate your input. I figured from asking you all, it seemed waiting was the most realistic. I can’t wait to try them. I agree, one big perk of this lifestyle are the options. How about you?

        Stethescopes&Armbars said:
        June 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm

        I was 110% sure I was going to be an EM doc and do a fellowship in EMS since I was an EMT all through college and chief of the department. I NEVER wanted to be a surgeon. Turns out, I’m *hopefully* going to be a surgeon. Crazy how much things change! You will absolutely love M3. It’s really awesome to go from birthing babies one week to taking out gallbladders the next. It’s real medicine and reminds you why you chose this field in the first place!

    doctororbust responded:
    June 15, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    How exciting! I had a friend several friends end the same way, not the way they imagined. So, I have an open mind. I’m really excited for everything really, new city, new place, and a light at the end of the tunnel!

    hsmfochrista said:
    June 15, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Your blog is extremely informative in terms of medical school admissions, etc.– so glad I stumbled upon it (I’m a post-bacc career changer.) In any case, I’ve heard from many of my friends who have gone to medical school that they sort of just “fell” into what they were going to do. I dated a guy in medical school who ended up telling me he really wanted to find something he was “naturally good at,” and he ended up in a General Internal Medicine rotation, so I guess there’s that too?

      doctororbust responded:
      June 15, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      I’m glad my blog could help you. I think it’s easier to devote yourself to medicine if you’re sure that’s your goal. Having a previous career will only make your goal clearer. Keep in touch.

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