AACOMmunities

Self-Exploration

Learning about yourself is a lifelong process.

So how do you choose something today that will fit you for the rest of your life? Consider these questions:

  • What is your image of yourself?
  • What kind of relationship do you want to have with your patients?
  • How much of your career defines who you are compared with other activities (family, groups, community, etc.)?
  • When you have a free day, with the option to do whatever it is that would make you happiest, what do you think of doing? 
  • When you log on to the Internet, what sites most attract you?  
  • In a bookstore, which section do you know the best? 
  • How do your religion and politics affect your life.

The hard work of self-assessment leads to career fulfillment.

Matching your interests to your skills is a more intellectual activity and is difficult to do without some sort of reflection either with another person or with a tool to help with the assessment.

If you know where you are now, and where you think you want to be, you've got a lot of the work done.  Knowing your values, interests and skills, and being realistic about where work will fit into your life, and what you are willing to put into your career, will move you in specific directions.

Career decision making involves understanding yourself, exploring your options, evaluating your ability to accomplish what you are setting out to do, and acting on those decisions.  If you can identify what parts of your life are the most satisfying to you, then finding a career will be simpler.

Take an Inventory

Some individuals know exactly what makes them ‘tick,’ but we all can benefit from learning more.

The inventories below will help you to learn more about yourself. Is it important for you to create long-lasting relationships with patients for whom you provide care?   Is the successful completion of a surgery more important to you, or will talking with the patient and patient’s family provide more satisfaction?

Some of these basic pieces of personal information can help you to make a decision about a medical specialty, as can your values regarding your work and personal time, importance of family time, knowing a lot about a little or knowing a little about a lot of medical fields.   

You may think that you know exactly what you want to be once you graduate from medical school, and you may be correct.  On the other hand, it will be of personal benefit to look objectively at the options and make decisions based on your values.  Once you are into year 3 of a surgical residency (for example), it will be difficult to change course and pursue a completely different residency option.

Check out the sites below to learn more about yourself and to explore a variety of medical specialties.

Find Mentors

What is a mentor?  

A mentor is a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. Mentors provide expertise to less experienced individuals to help them advance their careers, enhance their education, and build their networks.

Learn more about mentoring

This Mentor Handbook (pdf) further defines a mentoring relationship and provides recommendations on finding a mentor as well as effectively taking on the role of protege.

Some osteopathic colleges have "mentoring programs" in which a student is paired with a more experienced person such as a faculty member, who advises and serves as an example as he/she advances. A mentor can serve as a confidant, a source of advice, a centering force and a friend.

Some mentor relationships are very formal, while others may be quite informal. Mentors enjoy serving in the role and are happy to work with students, so don’t hesitate to be in touch with your mentor when you need something. Check with your Student Services staff to see if your school has a mentor program in place.

The American Osteopathic Association's iLearn Mentor Program that connects osteopathic medical students, interns and residents with established physicians to help build a better future for osteopathic medicine.