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How should I know which medical career is the best for me?

As I get closer to going to college, I have decided that I'd like to work in the medical field. As a result, I have researched different specialties that are offered in order to become a doctor, but since there are so many, I do not know which one would be the best for me. As of right now, my top two options are either a dermatologist or pediatrician.

medicine dermatologist dermatology pediatrician healthcare hospital-and-health-care


You have to figure out what your interests are. As a nurse I knew that pediatrics was not a choice that I wanted and I also knew that I did not want to go into certain other areas so I chose medical surgical nursing. I hope that this helps. Diana McFarling

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Anum’s Answer

Hi, I am a doctor myself, and let me assure you that you don't only have plenty of time to figure out what you want to do, you will benefit a lot from the experiences you have while in college. I will not get into every detail of becoming a doctor as you will find it as you go, but will tell you the basics of how you figure it out as you go in a nutshell. As you might know, every medical college is affiliated with a Hospital, and after your second year you are given the chance to learn in different fields of medicine and surgery. I have seen many people and experienced it myself that once you start these rotations, you get a lot of exposure and will realize your focus of interest very soon and might even find your passion too. It is all a game of experience and finding yourself and your passion at heart as you move every step forward. I know you have researched but looking and experiencing will benefit you a lot. And remember, don't lose heart no matter what.
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Laura’s Answer

The healthcare professions are rich with opportunities to serve others. If science and serving others is your desire, you will have so many options as you travel down your education path.

There are some students that may struggle to do well on standardized tests, and others who may have gotten a C in Biochemistry. There are other students that discover the financial costs may be too burdensome to take on immediately following college. Please remember this does not close the door on opportunities to learn in the sciences and train for a career in healthcare!

Being a doctor is wonderful and takes years of hard work and dedication to academic excellence. Equally important in service to patients are therapists, nurses, technicians, social workers and many, many more who work tirelessly in hospitals, clinics and healthcare systems to serve others. You must have a passion to place the needs of others before your own.

In my view, you have to be extremely motivated to really work hard, constantly maintain an open mind and have a disposition towards never giving up as the path to a career in medicine has many challenges.

It would be much too early to consider a specialty as even medical students change their minds several times during their pre-clinical preparation. If you have the underlying character and temperament of dedication to hard work, intelligence ( including emotional intelligence), and strong desire to help others, your path to becoming a doctor can be more clear. I do think it’s important for anyone considering a career in medicine to know that there are so many possibilities! As you study in college and learn more about medicine, you can become more energized by certain people, ideas and patient care in a particular setting and your specialty will pick you. Good luck!
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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Julisa! I think right now you have time; I wouldn't limit myself in terms of specialty. In medical school you get to complete rotations in different areas and you may find that you will like one more than the other; therefore keep an open mind! For now do well in classes, be involved with others in medical settings, especially patients, through volunteering or being a medical scribe and shadow a physician if you can. In medical school you will have more experience to decide which specialty fits for you; I think during college it should be your primary goal to become affiliated with being a premed student by choosing your major (it can be any major, you just have to take the prerequisites for medical school), become comfortable with thinking critically in the harder prereqs that med school requires as well as maybe getting involved in research to get some lab work outside of class. If you do want to get more experience in dermatology or pediatrics before medical school, you can seek out a physician in these areas to just get a better idea. It is recommend and highly advised if not required to shadow a physician so therefore it can definitely be a good option to get physician shadowing in and your own curiosity answered! Keep working hard and check out AAMC.org to get more familiar with the experiences, classes, and other premed/medical school related topics!

I hope this helps and I wish you the best on your journey!

Yasemin recommends the following next steps:

Check out AAMC.org
Do well in classes
Get experience in the medical field through volunteering
Shadow a physician
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Laura’s Answer

The healthcare professions are rich with opportunities to serve others. If science and serving others is your desire, you will have so many options as you travel down your education path.

There are some students that may struggle to do well on standardized tests, and others who may have gotten a C in Biochemistry. There are other students that discover the financial costs may be too burdensome to take on immediately following college. Please remember this does not close the door on opportunities to learn in the sciences and train for a career in healthcare!

Being a doctor is wonderful and takes years of hard work and dedication to academic excellence. Equally important in service to patients are therapists, nurses, technicians, social workers and many, many more who work tirelessly in hospitals, clinics and healthcare systems to serve others. You must have a passion to place the needs of others before your own.

In my view, you have to be extremely motivated to really work hard, constantly maintain an open mind and have a disposition towards never giving up as the path to a career in medicine has many challenges.

It would be much too early to consider a specialty as even medical students change their minds several times during their pre-clinical preparation. If you have the underlying character and temperament of dedication to hard work, intelligence ( including emotional intelligence), and strong desire to help others, your path to becoming a doctor can be more clear. I do think it’s important for anyone considering a career in medicine to know that there are so many possibilities! As you study in college and learn more about medicine, you can become more energized by certain people, ideas and patient care in a particular setting and your specialty will pick you. Good luck!
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Laura’s Answer

The healthcare professions are rich with opportunities to serve others. If science and serving others is your desire, you will have so many options as you travel down your education path.

There are some students that may struggle to do well on standardized tests, and others who may have gotten a C in Biochemistry. There are other students that discover the financial costs may be too burdensome to take on immediately following college. Please remember this does not close the door on opportunities to learn in the sciences and train for a career in healthcare!

Being a doctor is wonderful and takes years of hard work and dedication to academic excellence. Equally important in service to patients are therapists, nurses, technicians, social workers and many, many more who work tirelessly in hospitals, clinics and healthcare systems to serve others. You must have a passion to place the needs of others before your own.

In my view, you have to be extremely motivated to really work hard, constantly maintain an open mind and have a disposition towards never giving up as the path to a career in medicine has many challenges.

It would be much too early to consider a specialty as even medical students change their minds several times during their pre-clinical preparation. If you have the underlying character and temperament of dedication to hard work, intelligence ( including emotional intelligence), and strong desire to help others, your path to becoming a doctor can be more clear. I do think it’s important for anyone considering a career in medicine to know that there are so many possibilities! As you study in college and learn more about medicine, you can become more energized by certain people, ideas and patient care in a particular setting and your specialty will pick you. Good luck!
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Laura’s Answer

The healthcare professions are rich with opportunities to serve others. If science and serving others is your desire, you will have so many options as you travel down your education path.

There are some students that may struggle to do well on standardized tests, and others who may have gotten a C in Biochemistry. There are other students that discover the financial costs may be too burdensome to take on immediately following college. Please remember this does not close the door on opportunities to learn in the sciences and train for a career in healthcare!

Being a doctor is wonderful and takes years of hard work and dedication to academic excellence. Equally important in service to patients are therapists, nurses, technicians, social workers and many, many more who work tirelessly in hospitals, clinics and healthcare systems to serve others. You must have a passion to place the needs of others before your own.

In my view, you have to be extremely motivated to really work hard, constantly maintain an open mind and have a disposition towards never giving up as the path to a career in medicine has many challenges.

It would be much too early to consider a specialty as even medical students change their minds several times during their pre-clinical preparation. If you have the underlying character and temperament of dedication to hard work, intelligence ( including emotional intelligence), and strong desire to help others, your path to becoming a doctor can be more clear. I do think it’s important for anyone considering a career in medicine to know that there are so many possibilities! As you study in college and learn more about medicine, you can become more energized by certain people, ideas and patient care in a particular setting and your specialty will pick you. Good luck!
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Fabienne M.’s Answer

Hello, both pediatrics and dermatology are excellent fields to enter. It is great that you are thinking about this now so that you can hear your volunteer work and other volunteer and medical school experiences in the right direction.


A few things to consider:

1. Are you sure you want to enter the medical field and what are your 3 top reasons?


2. Picking a field is one of the hardest things to do but keeping your options open is the best first step. Keep in mind in medical school you will complete clinical rotations in many of the top fields and therefore can do an elective in the field of preference to secure a choice.


3. Place more focus on volunteering in either a derm or peds office to really get a see at which you would like.


4. You have time!!!! You dont have to know what field you want before you start medical school but an idea is nice. Surgeon vs. Primary care vs. Teaching or even research. The healthcare is so vast that you have sooo much to chose from.


Takeaway: Begin volunteering at either a derm or peds office. Explain that you are a student interested in the field of medicine and would like to volunteer. It can be 1-3x/week or just weekends maybe 2 to 4 hr a day.

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Laura’s Answer

The healthcare professions are rich with opportunities to serve others. If science and serving others is your desire, you will have so many options as you travel down your education path.

There are some students that may struggle to do well on standardized tests, and others who may have gotten a C in Biochemistry. There are other students that discover the financial costs may be too burdensome to take on immediately following college. Please remember this does not close the door on opportunities to learn in the sciences and train for a career in healthcare!

Being a doctor is wonderful and takes years of hard work and dedication to academic excellence. Equally important in service to patients are therapists, nurses, technicians, social workers and many, many more who work tirelessly in hospitals, clinics and healthcare systems to serve others. You must have a passion to place the needs of others before your own.

In my view, you have to be extremely motivated to really work hard, constantly maintain an open mind and have a disposition towards never giving up as the path to a career in medicine has many challenges.

It would be much too early to consider a specialty as even medical students change their minds several times during their pre-clinical preparation. If you have the underlying character and temperament of dedication to hard work, intelligence ( including emotional intelligence), and strong desire to help others, your path to becoming a doctor can be more clear. I do think it’s important for anyone considering a career in medicine to know that there are so many possibilities! As you study in college and learn more about medicine, you can become more energized by certain people, ideas and patient care in a particular setting and your specialty will pick you. Good luck!
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Richard’s Answer

Consider how long you want to go to school.

MD's have the longest route with 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school and 3-6 years of residency.

PA's go to 2 years of PA school after college.

Registered nurses have 4 years of college.

EMT, paramedics, lab techs, x ray techs and scrub techs have fewer years of education after high school.

Consider shadowing different professions to choose what is right for you.
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John’s Answer

If you are interested in becoming a physician, your biggest question to yourself should be "Am I interested in helping people?" If that is your primary motivation, there are many many healthcare roles for you to consider. As others have pointed out, these vary in educational requirements and time commitments. Physician takes the longest, and is the most competitive. But somebody is going to take that seat in a first year medical class somewhere. If you want it to be, it can be you! Don't listen to those who tell you what you can't do. Stick with the people who tell you what you can do. Lastly, enjoy the journey. Don't just take science classes. Take advantage of the liberal arts opportunities in your education. Develop yourself as a well rounded person.
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Gillian’s Answer

You cannot know this now. While in medical school you will have two years of intensive didactic learning and two years of practical learning. The third year will be 4 or 8 or 12 week rotations in Ob/ Gyn, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Family Medicine. The Fourth year is filled with electives- geared towards your chosen field- as by now you’ve figured out a focus. You’ve met a physician who inspired you, or a kind of patient that really challenges you and a field within which you want to spend your life treating and doing research.
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Chris’s Answer

Good question. I suspect each doctor will answer this differently. Starting when I was your age, hard decisions were answered by “listening”. I always believed, and still do, that we all have a “little voice” that tells us what is in our heart, if we listen. That is how I choose which college to go to, then a major, then which medical school, then which residency and for me, then a fellowship. So, don’t decide now, just spend a few years (or a decade) just listening .
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Nicole’s Answer

Okay, of the 3 answers so far only Fabienne's answer is good.

First and foremost - you haven't even started college yet. You have TONS of time. All doctors, regardless of their specialty, have to complete 4 years of college (undergrad) and 4 years of medical school* before deciding on a specialty. My best advice to you is KEEP AN OPEN MIND. I started college thinking I wanted to be an engineer. I wound up becoming a pediatrician. I have friends who started as premeds, then discovered a whole other field they'd never been exposed to or even knew about in high school (one ended up in anthropology).

Second - learn as much as you can...and I mean experiential learning, NOT studying medical school books and/or subscribing to magazines - you won't learn what being a pediatrician or dermatologist or doctor in general (or nurse practitioner or physician assistant, etc) is like that way. Talk to people in healthcare, shadow doctors and other health professionals, try to find a mentor, attend medical society events, look online for resources...Of course, always be careful of the source when doing research online; medical organizations are a good place to start - the American Medical Association (www.ama-assn.org), the American Medical Student Association (www.amsa.org, has some stuff specifically for premeds), the American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org), American Academy of Dermatology (www.aad.org), etc. Find out if there are local medical societies where you live. For example - the AAP, the governing body of pediatrics, has a chapter in every state. Even more local for me is the Medical Society of Metropolitan Portland (MSMP). The online resources, and especially the more local societies, are a great place to start when looking for someone to shadow or somewhere to volunteer (aside: volunteering is a great thing to do, it's excellent to have on your college app or resume, it can be a good way of networking [meeting people] but it won't *necessarily* show you what being a doctor is like. Due to privacy laws, malpractice, etc a lot of volunteer work involves entertaining kids in the waiting room, transporting patients from one place to another, doing administrative stuff - roles that won't actually show you what it's like to be a practitioner. So seek out a good one). And ASK QUESTIONS. Ask folks in healthcare what they do and don't like about their job, what surprised them about their job once they entered the field, what they wish they'd known going into it, etc.

*There are 6 year BS/MD programs you can apply to out of high school (in lieu of a typical 4-year undergraduate program) which would save you time and money. But if you're considering this route, be SURE you definitely want to be a doctor.

Nicole recommends the following next steps:

Research area medical societies and other resources
Shadow healthcare professionals
Ask lots of questions
Relax! You have plenty of time
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David’s Answer

Julisa, a close friend of mine wanted to be an emergency physician, when she graduated from medical school, but she became an anesthesiologist instead. She chose this residency, just after her year of internship. But it looks to me from your list, that you are already interested in dermatology and pediatrics. Try and see if you can subscribe to dermatology and or, pediatric magazines. They may develop your interest even further. Don’t wait until medical school, to start studying medical school books. I purchased my first paramedic book, long before I went to school. I would say best of luck, but you seem pretty determined. I don’t think you will need much luck.


Good idea 💡 عبدالله المبارك

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Michael’s Answer

I would suggest asking yourself what areas and patient population you enjoy best. Many specialties are changing due to the demands placed on the healthcare system.
As a dermatologist you may not develop strong relationships with your patients and focus on a specific problem. As a pediatrician ( my specialty) you will spend longer times with patients, work in conjunction with parents and usually see certain aspects in a range of pathology. The compensation is much different, but the rewards much different as well . If you see yourself desiring a certain quality of life with limited attachments then dermatology may be for you. Primary Care shortages allow options for travel, relocation and working within and in an ambulatory center.
Dermatology is quite limited both in time you have to spend with patients and can seem sometimes like a “cattle call “. There is an expectation that you will see a larger number of patients a day. Your evaluation and treatment is “organ specific “. The patient population will tend to be older and geographically you might do well in warmer climates with conditions of the environment like skin cancer.
I hope this provides some detail for thought. Remember, whatever you do you must be happy as medicine is lifelong

Michael recommends the following next steps:

Take some electives
Find a mentor in your area of interest
Shadow someone during clinic
are you a people person or just task oriented
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عبدالله’s Answer

There will be many and many ideas about this and believe me it's not just ur concern, alot of graduated doctors wondering about what the specialty is most suitable for them to be their future career
But the answer of this is not easy to tell
And everybody has his own type of interest
So my advice is to not hurry and give yourself a chance to answer this question after finishing the internship and figure out which department of medicine you have more interest on.
Good luck..
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