Shadowing a DoctorMay 14, 2012
A subject that many medical school students often wrestle with, is the ultimate decision of what field of medicine to specialise in. This often causes medical students anxiety as choosing a particular field of medicine may affect the rest of a doctor’s career, and many medical students are fearful of making the wrong decision. Fortunately, choosing what area of medicine to specialise in is not a decision a medical student has to make until after completion of their basic degree, and by that time, a medical school student has had wide enough experience to identify potential areas of specialisation.
Indeed, many medical school students choose not to specialise in one particular field of medicine at all, and become General Practitioners (GPs). GPs are the doctors we visit when we become ill and they have a basic knowledge of all areas of medicine. GPs either work in surgeries, diagnosing, treating and caring for local people, or in hospitals where they work alongside consultants and provide the first contact with a patient when admitted. GPs are often skilled enough to treat patients on their own; however, when an illness requires more specialist treatment, a GP passes the patient on to a consultant, who is a specialist in one particular area of medicine.
Consultants are those doctors that have specialised, and for medical school students wishing to become a consultant, eventually they need to choose which field of medicine to study. There are dozens of different fields of medicine, but they fall into six basic category groups:
Surgery or internal medicine.
Dealing with patients of specific groups, such as geriatrics of paediatrics.
Diagnostic fields of medicine, a specialism centred around finding out what’s wrong with patients.
Therapy, the treating of conditions.
Specialising in specific organs or parts of the body
Specialising in specific techniques.
Within these key areas, there are dozens of different specialities, and finding the right one that fits the medical student is difficult, and as a consultant may end up working in that one area of medicine for the rest of their careers, is also important to get right. In choosing which speciality to study, factors that need assessing include:
The aptitude of a medical student in certain subject areas–throughout a medical student’s training, certain skill-sets may become more evident than others. Surgeons, for example, often have highly dexterous hands and are able to work well with surgical instruments.
A key interest in certain specialities–some medical school students develop a passion for certain areas of medicine, which helps define their career choice. For instance, having an interest in circulatory systems may lead a person to want to specialise in venereology or vascular surgery.
Having a passion for working with a particular group of people–some students choose to work with a particular group of people because of the satisfaction offered in helping those patients. Students who enjoy treating and helping children often turn to paediatrics, while those who get satisfaction in improving the health of the elderly may find a career in geriatrics rewarding.