Choosing a Specialty with Careers in Medicine®

With more than 120 specialty and sub-specialty options to choose from, how do you select something you’ll be happy with for the rest of your professional life?
Portrait Of Male Doctor In Emergency Room

There's no magic formula for decision making. Finding a good fit entails exploring who you are and what you want for your life, then identifying the career options that will support those goals. Keep in mind there may be several specialties that will provide you career satisfaction.

During your first year, focus on making a successful transition into medical school and mastering the material. This is also the time to begin building relationships with mentors and advisors, so they know you well and can best support you as you explore specialties and apply for residency.

The Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS®)

The summer between your first and second year is a valuable time to explore specialties or bolster your research experience in a specialty you're already considering. Then, carve out some time during your second year to participate in specialty interest groups and physician panels organized by your school. It’s also a good idea to conduct informational interviews with physicians in a range of specialties.

With all the information you’ll have gathered about yourself and your options, you should be well equipped to choose your specialty with confidence.

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For Students

Visiting opportunities can provide exposure to new educational experiences and a chance to explore residency opportunities. The VSLO program streamlines the application process for medical and public health students. 
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For Institutions

The VSLO program is designed for students to pursue short-term learning opportunities in locations away from their home institutions. These opportunities are available in teaching hospitals, community clinics, and urban or rural sites.

Electives and Summer Makeup Courses

The summer between your first and second year is a valuable time to explore specialties or bolster your research experience in a specialty you're already considering. Then, carve out some time during your second year to participate in specialty interest groups and physician panels organized by your school.

This searchable database contains information about elective opportunities at AAMC-member medical schools in the United States.

List of opportunities for summer course work at U.S. medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).

 

Other Research and Training Opportunities

As you ponder your specialty decision, you’ll need to figure out if you’re competitive for the options on the top of your list. We offer other research and training opportunities such as the ones below.

 

Electives and Make-up Courses

Did you know that the AAMC can help you secure an away rotation or global health experience?

Research and Training Opportunities

Looking for ways to enrich your medical school experience? Check out our directories of clinical, research and public health opportunities.

Clinical Rotation Evaluation

What did you like most about the specialty? What did you like least? Use this worksheet to record your experiences.