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How to Choose a Medical Specialty
Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara discusses how to choose a medical specialty that will help you build a fulfilling medical career.
By: UAG
03/Jul/2023
UAG
As soon as you enter medical school, people start asking you about the specialty you plan to choose. Choosing a specialty is very important, because that’s the specific area of medicine you will practice once you receive your MD. The best time to do this, though, is toward the end of medical school. In the third and fourth years, you will have clinical rotations, during which you will experience what it is like to practice different areas of medicine. Once you have that experience, you will be more able to decide what you really want to do. 

Finding the right specialty is about more than deciding what kind of medicine that interests you. You must consider your personal professional goals, needs, and wants. While you are debating about which medical specialty to choose, do not neglect to consider the idea of becoming a general practitioner rather than a specialist. Each option can lead to a fulfilling medical career, so choosing between them depends on your career needs and desires, as well as your lifestyle. General practitioners treat a wide variety of health concerns, requiring a large breadth of knowledge. Because they must need to know something about a number of specialties, they do not as great a depth of knowledge as specialists in each area. General practitioners have varied careers, with the conditions treated being different on different days. They often treat patients over a long period of time, forming stronger bonds and acting as the first point of contact for many patients. To become a general practitioner, physicians tend to go through family medicine or internal medicine residency programs, which are shorter program options than many other specialties, typically lasting only three years. Because their residencies are shorter, general practitioners can begin practicing more quickly than specialists. 

Specialists must also acquire a broad understanding of medicine, but they choose one field of medical practice in which to pursue very in-depth knowledge. Because they are focused on one area of medicine, they are not able to stay up to date on as broad a range of topics as general practitioners. Therefore, while general practitioners will refer patients to specialists for treatment in particular areas, specialists rely on general practitioners for holistic assessment of patients. Residency programs for different specialties can last from three to six years, and most are in the upper part of that range. Some residency programs, like neurosurgery, can extend to seven years of training, and when added to four years of medical school, this is a long time to go without a full salary. However, once they do begin practicing, neurosurgeons earn a much higher salary than general practitioners.
 
If you decide to choose a specialty, there are some factors you will want to consider. Think about your own interests, rather than choosing a specialty based on opinions from others, or even salary and prestige. This is something you will be doing for many years, so it needs to be something you truly enjoy doing and find professionally fulfilling. Explore your options early, taking the time to explore different specialties in your electives or looking into specialties during your free time. Use every resource at your disposal to investigate different options before you settle on one. Even if you enter medical school with a specialty in mind, though, keep an open mind and be willing to change your mind if it becomes apparent that another field is more appropriate. Think about the day-to-day realities of each specialty you are considering, understanding that every case will not be fascinating and stimulating. Decide how involved you want to be with your patients, and what kind of schedule you want to keep. Think about the salary you want, the lifestyle you want to lead, and how quickly you need to pay off your student loans. Try to get a complete picture of your life if you choose a certain specialty before committing to it.

If you are looking for a medical school with a deep-rooted tradition of quality, look into Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara. The first medical school in Latin America to offer a US-style curriculum, we are committed to cultivating future physicians who have the skills and abilities necessary to meet the challenges of personal and community health. With the best facilities in Guadalajara, state-of-the-art laboratories, and a close working relationship with many of the hospitals in the city, we are able to provide an excellent educational experience for our students both on campus and in the field. With the goal of preparing graduates for careers as physicians where they can provide individuals, families, and communities with outstanding preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic services, our medical school offers a curriculum of excellence. We prepare our students to heal and serve their community, and we encourage them to strive for innovation, academic excellence, leadership, and commitment to society. For more information about our college of medicine, call 833-220-7645 or contact us through our website.

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