Minimum Criteria

Almost done with clerkship year and already I have rotated in all but two departments (surgery and emergency medicine). With the interns’ 100 days countdown already past two weeks (ie the clerks’ countdown to internship too), the pressure to decide on my future career as a physician becomes greater. I remember my mother, from whom I inherited some of her OC-ness, telling me that in spite of big feelings of “hunches” regarding residency choices, it’s better to come up with a decision that’s based on facts – not just about the characteristics of the different specializations but also my personal idiosyncrasies. She even suggested I do a spreadsheet document, a matrix of all possible residency options and how they meet my personal criteria in choosing a specialization.

As far as I know, here are the non-negotiable criteria –

1. Must be able to interact with live patients. – that means no formalinized specimen, no cadavers. Radiology (pure) not really a differential unless its interventional or rad onco. But this is far from my list.
2. Not IM (internal medicine). – as much as I admire internists (and cardio, pulmo, nephro, immuno, rheuma and the like), I’d like to refer to them and not be them. My brain will short circuit from all the thinking. IM’s taught me a lot though.

Semi-negotiable criteria –

3. A big plus if it’s surgical/ procedure intensive.I’m good with kinesthetic activities, and fair muscle memory. 🙂
4. Fast resolution of patient problems (see no.2)I want to see them get well before my eyes. Haha!
5. Manageable working hours/can accomodate other pursuits in life.
6. Involves team work if possible.because no man is an island, and I’m sure to get crazy when left by myself with no one to talk to.
7. Practice can be started virtually anywhere in the country.Yes, because I love to travel, and the idea of starting practice in the rural/provincial areas is actually not bad for me.
8. With some variety, aka. fun, aka not deathly boring.I need not explain.
9. With some financial assurance.For daily expenses and occasional splurges.

And a big bonus if

10. I could give back. – to the country, of course. Related to no.7, our class is the first batch to sign the RSA, which requires us to serve for three years after graduation. I hope those will be three fruitful years.


self portrait at the Anesth callroom, Feb 2013

People who know me (or bother to ask) already have an idea what specializations these criteria rule in. Will I still pursue it after boards? Only time (and good God-led discernment) will tell.