Before you begin to set up electives you need to select your field of specialty (peds, internal med, surgery, etc.). Do not feel bad if you are unsure, many people do not have a clear residency preference. In order to narrow down the options, however, it is a good idea is to talk to as many experienced people as possible as well as to read the widely available guides to selecting a specialty. Most useful is conversing with doctors in the relevant fields that are currently practicing in the United States. You will find that they can give you a different view point on the specific specialty you are considering - one that you did not think about... In my personal case, a gynecologist told me to steer away from that field as it is swamped with lawsuits and almost impossible to practice in the United States. In the end you will find something that suits you. Of course, be realistic and select something that is doable with regards to your board scores and grades… you can get all the match statistics on the NRMP match site


There is one last point that few people are willing to talk about: connections. If you have connections in certain specialties then those should go into your equation as well. We have all heard stories about peoples parents, uncles, and grandfathers who were of invaluable assistance in attaining a certain residency position. The truth is that it is difficult to quantify the significance of connections in the residency process. However, aside from the occasional oddity, it is generally thought that connections may open doors, but they seldom get someone a residency position if their profile is inadequate.


Personally, I managed to narrow my list of specialties down to two fields. However, even then I was told that I had to get my list down to one field so that I could choose my electives accordingly. Supposedly, doing three or four electives in the field you chose is best as it gives you a chance to prove yourself “on the field” and show what you’re worth at more institutions (thereby increasing the chances of matching in these same places if they like you). I can't say that its not advisable to find only one field of interest, but its not the end of the world if you end up with two either. The truth is that these electives should also be used to experiment and make sure you find a field that you really like. All within reason of course.

Choosing A Medical Specialty

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