Tips for choosing your medical specialty

With so many things to consider, making a final decision about your medical specialty can be tough. We’ve put together some top tips to help you through the decision-making process.

Location: UK
Audience: Medical students Junior doctors
Updated: Tuesday 19 October 2021
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Where you want to be in your professional and personal life in the future should influence the decision you make about your medical specialty. How you make the decision will depend on your personality and skills, how much responsibility and commitment you want to take on and what you can imagine yourself doing in years to come.


Top tips

Research your options carefully and use all sources of career advice available

  • speak to a practitioner in the field
  • consult postgraduate deaneries for advice
  • contact the BMA or browse the rest of the website
  • contact the appropriate royal college
  • read up on the various specialties


Think about options that will suit your lifestyle

  • use flexible training and working options
  • consider the on-call commitment for different specialties
  • Think about life experiences and ambitions and where these might lead
  • Does the job provide the balance you want between home and work life?


Don't rush into making a decision

  • consider undertaking 'taster' sessions to gain experience of different specialties during Foundation years 1 and 2
  • consider taking a break between FY2 and specialty training to work abroad, or get more experience


When considering posts ensure that the contract and the conditions of service are fully understood

  • BMA members can contact us for employment advice on contracts, pay or conditions
  • Does the job fit with your own ethics, inner values and boundaries?


Think about your future and how the specialty will change over time

  • Will you gain sufficient job satisfaction and be interested in the work?
  • Are you sufficiently motivated to work effectively in the post, during training and beyond?
  • How might this specialty change over the next 30 years and will it suit you?


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Specialty explorer

Get help with making an informed choice about your specialty. Specialty explorer is a tool for BMA members that supports your research into medical specialties.

Launch Specialty explorer

Getting further career advice

For general career advice the relevant royal college or postgraduate dean can be contacted.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges 

Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans - contact details for UK deaneries.

Health Careers - information service for careers in the NHS in England.