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.
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
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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.
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.
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.
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: