As individuals aspiring to enter medicine, at one point or another in our positions as premeds, we have probably contemplated what specialty of medicine we might want to go in to. Some of us may have crossed paths with the fellow premed who confidently asserts that she wants to be a prenatal ob/gyn or he is going to become a pediatric oncologist. But for whatever the reasons serving as impetus for these beliefs, at this point in our journey, perhaps for most of us it might be wiser to heed advice such as that of Dr. Sylvia Morris, assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, with whom I share the stance that, while it’s more than okay to have an inkling now (especially if it is helping you keep your head in the game!), “it’s important to enter medical school with an open mind, ready to gain exposure to as many specialties as possible in order to make an informed decision about your career path” (Morris, 2014).
According to a number of surveys conducted on U.S. premedical and medical student populations, some students are pursuing a certain specialty because they believe they will make a lot of money by going into it. Now, for many of us, we know we will most likely have to take out loans and therefore have a practical reason for a high-paying specialty choice; however, as you have likely heard before, money alone won’t make you happy. Dr. Jessica Freedman, who writes for KevinMD.com, states that this is also where the importance of shadowing comes in, for if you decide that you want to become “a plastic surgeon because of the big bucks often associated with the practice,” how else would you ever be able to realize that “you don’t enjoy the types of procedures and patients it entails” and that having genuine passion for what you do is what really matters. In fact, according to several experienced medical professionals, including a registered nurse, a physician, and a dentist, that I have spoken at length with, the medical profession is apparently becoming a “less and less stable job” for a growing number of licensed physicians, in terms of maintaining a steady income and clientele (although there was no mention of how this is spread across regions nor how factors such as physician’s age, medical specialty, practice setting, gender, etc. play in this). In other words, pursuing medicine for the goal of earning lots of money not only goes against what it means to be a doctor and the pure desire to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives but is a very unrealistic expectation to have, especially in today’s market.