Learn to Trust Your Gut

By | September 1, 2014

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When it comes to choosing your medical specialty and ranking residency programs, trusting your instincts is crucial. Let me explain.

Choosing your specialty is the first major decision you will have to make in medical school. Studying for exams and boards are both a given, but what to specialize in requires a different kind of thinking. Before medical school you may have had a desire to become a particular kind of doctor. Maybe that idea came from an inspirational experience you had previously, a family member you’ve always looked up to, or even a favorite character from television or the movies. However, things aren’t always what they seem. Your past experiences are only a piece of the puzzle. You’ll need to gather new information during classes, rotations, extracurricular activities, and any additional opportunities you create for yourself to give you the best shot at making the right choice of specialty. And once you’ve done all this, how exactly do you decide? Keep reading to find out.

The second major task you’ll have in medical school is determining your rank list for the match. This is typically a very challenging exercise for most medical students. First, there are so many aspects of residency to consider. Second, medical students are highly analytical (possibly even to the point of being neurotic). The combination of these factors makes analyzing and ranking programs overwhelming. Again, you find yourself in a situation where you’ve done the work you’re supposed to by gathered all possible information available to you. You’ve researched the programs, interviewed, met the residents and faculty, and spent time in each location. You have everything you need to put together the right rank list, but you still find yourself constantly reshuffling the order. What do you do now?

You trust your instincts. You’ll know which medical specialty or residency program is right for you because it will feel right, whether or not you can even explain it logically. You will literally just know. Your intuition is more powerful than you probably realize. I know it sounds too good to be true, or too simple to actually work. You don’t have to trust me, but you should definitely trust your gut.