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How Top Medical Students Choose the Right Specialty

We asked two Cram Fighter users to tells us how they chose their specialty. Read below to find out how they carved their paths.

Some students go into medical school knowing exactly what they would like to specialize in. Others have many different passions and go through their entire medical school dabbling in different areas.

Ryan B., a medical student at Texas Tech, and Joel Harding, from the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, had two very different paths. Ryan’s passion for learning and inherent curiosity made him fall in love with internal medicine. Joel’s enthusiasm for intervention and immediate results lead him to vascular surgery. Below, both Ryan and Joel tell us about their paths.

Ryan Balko Internal medicine is so broad and it’s so much information gathering. I think I just like to acquire information, even the tiniest details.

Ryan Balko, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine

Ryan didn’t know exactly what his niche was going to be. While Ryan was studying for the boards, he did thousands of practice questions. He says: “I thought it was really helpful and it made me focus on the details a little bit more, and so I got used to just constantly looking for little details that helped me pick apart a question. I think all of that is just to say that’s why I’m going into internal medicine, and that’s why I’m interested in that field. I love the delving into details and learning the tiny little nuances of pathology, for example.”

“Internal medicine is so broad and it’s so much information gathering. I think I just like to acquire information, even the tiniest details. I like to dwell in the details, which has really served me well preparing for the boards and exams in general, because a lot of times that’s what they are testing or caring about are the little details,” says Ryan.

Joel Harding I was outspoken during my rotations, and branched out every chance I got.

Joel Harding, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

Joel Harding, on the other hand, was all about experience. He likes to work with his hands, is mechanically oriented, and tried to jump in as often as he could. “I was outspoken during my rotations, and branched out every chance I got,” says Joel. He followed as many patients and witnessed as many procedure as he could. He often told his preceptors that he wasn’t sure about what he was doing next and asked to be exposed to other specialties particularly while working in hospitals. “Those experiences gave me valuable perspectives,” says Joel.

“I fell in love with surgery. A lot of medical students are enamored by it because it has hands on experience, unique experience, that most people have never had their entire lives over the course of a couple of weeks. The nice thing is, unlike giving a patient medication that takes a couple of weeks to kick in or a couple of days, surgery is you go in and fix it. And the results are permanent.” Joel’s enthusiasm for intervention set him apart and helped him see that his heart was in surgery.

If you’d like to share your unique experience, send us a note at contact@cramfighter.com.

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