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What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?

Kendracampbell572x721Kendra Campbell -- I’ve recently been thinking a lot about what I would have done with my life had I not gone to medical school. So, I was inspired by Colin's post to make a short list of what I “could” have become:

1. An Artist: I’m not sure exactly what type of art I would pursue. However, given my inclination for incorporating the viewer into the art itself, I think I’d probably lean towards some type of performance/street art.

2. A Veterinarian: If you’ve read many of my posts here on The Differential, you probably saw this one coming. I’m an animal maniac. I can easily see myself in 20 years living on a ranch somewhere with hundreds of animals running around inside and outside my house. It seems that it would have made good sense for me to choose animals over humans!

3. A Musician: Unfortunately, this one exists as a possibility only in my mind. Although I am incredibly passionate about music, and think I have the heart and performance abilities to put on a good show, I am completely and utterly lacking in talent. I can’t sing or play a single instrument with any level of skill.

I could continue the list for pages, but I shall not. Since I am in my third year of med school, and I have a monumental level of debt hovering over me, my dreams of pursuing other fields have been all but extinguished. Now, I have a new decision in front of me. Which specialty should I pursue?

Some students know from the time they are 5 years old that they want to be a pediatrician or a surgeon. But there are many of us who really don’t have a clue. The third- and fourth-year clinical rotations are intended to expose us to the various specialties, and they do, in fact, help most students narrow down their choice.

There are also numerous quizzes, tests, and scales that students can use to help them decide which specialty fits them best. Here are just a few:

1. The AAMC’s Careers in Medicine website

2. The University of Virginia’s Medical Specialty Aptitude Test (MSAT)

3. Test of Attractiveness of Medical Specialty by Temperament via Myers Longitudinal Study

Of course, if all else fails, you can use this very technical flow chart to figure out which specialty fits you best.


I am currently leaning strongly towards either emergency medicine or psychiatry. My MSAT results revealed emergency medicine as my best match, and psychiatry as my worst. The highly technical flow chart was actually great for narrowing my choices down as well. I am definitely crazy, so it confirms my hunch that emergency medicine and psychiatry are best for me!

I think what it really comes down to is letting your gut decide. Of course, that’s way easier said than done. Perhaps some of us never really decide what we want to be when we grow up!

January 7, 2009 in Kendra Campbell | Permalink


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