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Choosing your medical specialization can be daunting. Not just because there are so many options to choose from; this decision will impact the rest of your life. As you enter medical school, the possibilities are endless, but you don’t have to decide right away. However, you should still take the time to consider these key questions while picking a specialization.
Will Technology Replace my Job?
Hiring a medical profession requires a lot of overhead, and plenty of clinics and hospitals will replace you with a lower-cost alternative if able. Artificial intelligence and VR technology have made it possible to perform radiology, cardiology, and pathology tasks from a computer.
Even test preppers are getting replaced in technology. This Blueprint MCAT review proves how beneficial online learning is when compared to the classroom.
There are still plenty of careers that will be unaffected or improved by technology and even need a human at the helm. General practitioners benefit from online medical resources but are still required to perform tests. Understand the job trends in your specialization of choice before making a choice, or you could spend 8-12 years in school with little payoff.
Is my Specialty in High Demand?
Technology in the medical industry is positive, but it changes the way physicians are compensated. Employees aren’t necessarily compensated for seeing more patients, and there will be less monetary incentive to stay productive. It’s more likely your specialty will pay you a rate based on supply and demand, making certain positions harder to come by.
Supply and demand isn’t just based on how many positions need to be filled, but it’s also determined by returning patients. For example, pediatrics surgeons have few, if any, return patients. If patients enter a practice less often, they are not as necessary as other specialties.
How Many Patients Seek My Services?
Specializing in a form of medicine usually means a higher salary, more job prospects, and better benefits, but that isn’t always the case. Some specialties are more in demand than others and see more patients daily, while others may see a few people a week.
New pharmaceutical, immunotherapy, and genetic inventions make treatments take less time, which means fewer rotating patients. Narrowing your scope too much could be risky.
For Instance, bariatric surgeons specifically help patients with obesity, but the obesity epidemic has only been a 50-year problem. In the future, is it likely that people will continue to become obese, or will governmental and genetic technology make this issue virtually extinct? If a permanent solution arises, there won’t be any job openings for these surgeons.
Am I Okay Traveling for My Job?
You’ll likely find options in a large city for your specialty of choice, but what if there isn’t? What if you live in a rural area or a city that’s fully stocked with educated physicians? To stay employed, you may have to move to another city, state, or country. If your priorities are to keep a stable family life or remain in your current location, pick a position with more opportunities.
On the other hand, you may think of traveling as a perk. Travel nurses will go to different countries to fill in during staff shortages, while Doctors Without Borders will travel to countries that have low access to medicine. Choose a specialty that supports your lifestyle.
Does This Specialty Make Me Feel Excited/Happy/Fulfilled?
Based on how long it takes to become a medical professional, the vast majority of physicians will stay in their position for their whole lives. Don’t just chase a specialty because it’ll bring you more money or job opportunities because if you hate your job, you’ll want to leave anyway.
A surgeon will make you a quarter a million dollars a year, but if you’re squeamish around blood, you won’t last long. It’s better to commit to a career you’ll love than one you’re not fit for or can’t imagine yourself being happy in.