Professional Career Options

The best decisions come after some experiential learning, which is usually obtained in the student experiences during clinical rotations.

Many medical students find that they love each clinical rotation, which makes a decision about specialty choice quite a challenge.  If you find yourself in that position, it might be useful for you to make some notes about each rotation that will impact your decision.

Some things you might want to consider including in a description of your ideal medical career:

  • Long-term or short-term patient relationships
  • Family-friendly schedule
  • Surgery vs. no surgery
  • Amount of time/responsibility in the following venues:
    - Hospital
    - Out-patient
    - Procedures
    - Patient contact
    - Post-graduate training
  • Typical call schedule
  • Employment opportunities
  • Financial considerations

Osteopathic medicine has a proud tradition of educating primary care physicians, but that does not mean that following your 'generalist' educational background, you cannot venture into the realm of the specialists. Virtually any specialty is open to an osteopathic physician.

Your task is to determine what specialty choice is right for you. Hopefully, in working through some of the following pages and links, you will get a better idea of what suits you.

Visit the ERAS web site for a list of osteopathic and allopathic residencies and fellowships

Primary Care vs. Non-Primary Care Specialties

It has been said that a specialist knows more and more about less and less.

  • So when can a person call himself or herself a specialist?
  • How small a piece of the human body do you have to limit your work to in order to be considered a specialist?

Specialty refers to advanced training. Today, all residency-trained physicians are considered specialists, even if the specialty is a primary care specialty. "Subspecialty physicians" refers to people who have done a residency and then chosen to continue training in a particular aspect of their specialty field - such as an internal medicine physician continuing in an oncology fellowship.

How is a specialty or a subspecialty defined?

There is a difference in the focus and in the role of the primary care specialist.

  • Specialists see patients as the first interaction within the healthcare system.
  • Subspecialists typically see the patient after an initial interaction with another doctor and after a diagnosis has been made. They tend to focus on one aspect of a person’s care, one organ system, one problem area, one gender or one type of intervention.

Primary care physicians are able to provide comprehensive care to a person. Their focus is on the personal health of an individual.  They are the professionals with whom people first interface when entering into the medical system. And a primary care physician implies a professional who will have an ongoing, longitudinal relationship with a patient, and a coordinating role for how that patient will interact with the health care system.