Choosing A Single Specialty

Growing up, I was never that kid who imagined myself working in one set speciality of medicine. I just imagined myself in medicine. I was fascinated by everything it had to offer - from the heart to GI system to the skin. So when I entered PA school I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to learn more about medicine and fulfill my dream.

Until I realized I was going to need to decide what branch of medicine to enter.

For some reason, as much as I knew I would eventually have to decide, I never realized how hard it would be. I just assumed I would learn about some system and have an aha moment when I realized that was the speciality for me. I ended up finishing all of didactic year without having that moment. Sure there were topics I didn’t love, but for the most part I was interested in every system I learned about. Nothing stood out to me as being the best. So I crossed my fingers and hoped I would have that "Aha!" moment during my rotations.

I did know that there were a couple of things I was looking for. I wanted something without crazy hours, something that was interesting and challenging, and something that would let me make a difference. Which, as I realized the further I got into rotations, was not very helpful in narrowing down my choice.

Then I got to my internal medicine rotation.

I loved being in a hospital setting again. Having all sorts of diagnostic tests at my fingertips was amazing. I saw a variety of different conditions, and I really did feel like I was helping my patients. While I had been happy on all of my other rotations, I genuinely enjoyed the work I was doing as a Hospitalist. But something still just didn’t feel right. While the follow-up on my patients was great, seeing them every day and dealing with insurance hold-ups was not something I enjoyed. I felt like I was missing out on helping others. And then I realized that the moments I enjoyed the most weren’t the wonderful conversations I had with my patients or seeing them get discharged. It was the codes or moments of finally figuring out where the infection was coming from. Basically it was the moments that challenged me the most.

I finished my internal rotation having learned a lot - both about myself and what kind of medicine I wanted to practice. I had this idea, and with every challenging moment in medicine it was becoming bigger and brighter. But I was filled with a ton of self doubt about whether or not I was actually cut out for the field I was considering. Luckily for me, my school offers a rotation in it and I was actually going to be able see what I had to offer.

So Day One of this rotation - this possible future career - rolls around and I’m feeling excited and terrified all at once as I walk into the hospital. I wanted so bad to excel and fit in. I wanted to have that aha moment.

It didn’t happen. At least not that day.

No, that aha came a few weeks later. It came the day I had a patient thank me for giving her a sandwich. Something very simple and not at all medically related. But that moment made me realize that this was the specialty I wanted to do. I wanted to be constantly challenged, going from one area of medicine to another as I moved through my patients for the day. I wanted to learn from the consults I ordered and the attendings I actually worked with. I wanted those exciting moments that weren’t few and far between. I wanted to be able to see the difference I was making in patient’s lives. And I wanted to be way outside of my comfort zone.

Growing up, I never thought I would be entering Emergency Medicine. It was never even a field I considered.

But here I am, a new grad with a position in Emergency Medicine. I realized I loved the pace and the challenge of it. The fact that I could see patients with a myriad of problems, from acute MIs to vaginal bleeding to traumas, lets me continue to enjoy and learn every system of medicine. And I’ve always wanted to be in a position where I could so easily make the difference in a patient’s life. I’m thrilled to think about going into work everyday and learning something new.

That’s the whole reason I went into medicine in the first place.