How to match your medical specialty with your personality

July 10, 2014

Group of gap medics students in scrubs at the hospital. Maybe you’re sure you want to be a doctor. You love the idea of helping people, are fascinated with science and the thought of eight years of college and medical school does not faze you. But even if you are confident being a physician is what you want, you may not have any idea what you should specialize in. Deciding what type of medicine to practice may come easy for some and be a difficult decision for others.

Being undecided about what type of physician to become is nothing to stress about, especially early on in your education. After all, you don’t need to decide what type of medicine you want to practice the first day of medical school.

It never hurts to think about the various types of specialties and consider what would be the right fit for you. Of course, when you are deciding what type of specialist to become, you want to consider your interests and goals. It is also essential to take your personality into consideration when choosing your specialty.

Assess your values

Prioritize your values by considering what matters most to you. Maybe you want to get to know your patients over time. If building rapport with your patients is something you value, working in family practice may be a good option. Maybe you love a challenge or crave the adrenaline rush found in the emergency room.

Consider your temperament

Your temperament is your natural predisposition, and it can help you decide what medical specialty you are well suited for. Some people are naturally calm under pressure. If you tend to stay cool while others are freaking out, working as a trauma doctor or in emergency medicine may be a good match. On the other hand, if you are a bit high strung and can’t stand chaos, you may want to stay away from emergency medicine.   

Examine your strengths and weaknesses

Take some time to ask yourself: what are your strong points? Are you a natural leader and very ambitious? If so, working as a surgeon is career that you may excel at. Maybe you are perceptive and patient—those are two strengths that may help you be a successful psychiatrist.

Just as you consider your strengths, you should also take an honest look at your weaknesses. For example, if you are not much of a people person, but love the science behind medicine, pathology or research may suit your personality. 

One great thing about becoming a physician is that there are so many specialties to choose from. Don’t worry if you are not sure what type of doctor you want to become. Keep in mind that while some people know what specialty feels right, others may not decide until they rotate through various clinical areas. However you come to your decision is fine. With so many options, you are bound to find the right fit for your personality.