On completion of your undergraduate studies and at the beginning of the Foundation Years, there appears to be a bewildering choice of medical career options available. In the hospital medical specialties there are over 50 different specialties to choose from!
As a starting point, it may be useful to consider the following factors which apply to your own personality, skills and qualities:
- Your own strengths and weaknesses
- Your abilities, skills and interests
- The type of patients you see yourself working with
- Do you see yourself in a hospital or community setting?
- What sort of colleagues would you like to work with
- The overall length of training to CCT
- The opportunities for research?
- Work/Life balance
- The age of the patients
- Do you want direct patient contact at all?
- Do you want to treat patients holistically or be very specialised?
- Do you like interventional procedures e.g. endoscopy or cardiac catheterisation?
- Look at the competition and availability of the posts
- You may want less-than-full-time training or a shared job
- Do you fell comfortable dealing with uncertainty?
- Are you attracted to a multidisciplinary team?
- Would you enjoy supporting other specialists e.g. in radiology
- Salary prospects
- How your specialty might develop over the next 10 years
- Work intensity
Several excellent websites are available to help in your self-assessment and choice:
What are the steps in choosing a career?
Review you experience, skills and qualities
Explore the specialties which attract you
Implement your application
It is essential to look carefully at your own abilities and personal qualities before choosing a specialty. Academic ability is only one factor and you may have valuable feedback from appraisal or your e-portfolio and assessments from your trainers in the Foundation Programme.
Where do you get information for the exploration phase?
- Network with the undergraduates of Foundation Trainees above you to learn their experiences and gain their advice on specialties
- Visit the websites above and the Royal Colleges websites
- Organise a short taster in a specialty which interests you
- Request a 4 month rotation in a specialty which interests you during your Foundation programme
- Attend the undergraduate and postgraduate careers fairs or events
- Speak to your UG teachers or professors, clinical supervisors and arrange a meeting with the Heads or Deputy Heads of School through NIMDTA. These names are on the Specialty Schools pages of the NIMDTA website