[WWW- How to choose a medical specialty] Welcome to another #whitecoatwisdomwednesday for healthcare professionals in training! Following the 20/20 theme this week ( à la Justin Timberlake), let’s talk about how I decided on ophthalmology. I’ve gotten so many questions about how to choose a medical specialty. Consider the following:
1️⃣ What body part or system fascinates you the most? For me, the eye is an incredible smorgasbord of diverse pathology packed into a tiny, complex organ— neurology, oncology, rheumatology, vascular disease, infectious disease, pediatrics, oculoplastics, and more!
2️⃣ How much training can you handle? Residency ranges from 3 years for primary care to 7+ years for a surgical specialty. Ophthalmology took me 5 years including a 1-year cornea & refractive surgery fellowship.
3️⃣ How important is work-life balance to you? Ophthalmology is generally 9-5pm clinic days, 1 day a week in the OR, and minimal call. Residency, however, is extremely busy!
4️⃣ Are you a generalist or a specialist? I love that I can just focus on the eyeball and not have to worry about other symptoms like chronic pain or headaches.
5️⃣ Do you enjoy the inpatient or outpatient setting? I personally love working in clinic and doing outpatient surgery. Patients don’t have to be admitted and I don’t have to deal with hospital bureaucracy.
6️⃣ Do you prefer managing chronic illnesses or acute problems? Ophthalmology has a mixture of both, but I love that I can restore sight for the most part with a single surgery!
7️⃣ Do you have a more cerebral or hands-on personality? Again, ophthalmology has a mixture of both. But the main reason I became a cornea specialist is because of the beautifully delicate surgeries that are relatively clean and quick. It’s like dancing in the eye !
8️⃣ How competitive is your Step 1 score? This is, unfortunately, a sad reality of applying for residency
You can absolutely do whatever you set your mind to but it will certainly be more difficult for competitive specialties. The average score for ophthalmology is 243.
What specialty are you thinking about/did you decide on and why❓Let me know.