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Tips for choosing your medical specialty

Your choice of career path will have a huge impact on your professional and personal life, so it's important you give the decision some serious thought.

How you make this decision will depend on your personality and skills, what you want to get out of a job and how much responsibility and commitment you want to take on. Other things to consider will include whether you want direct patient contact, research opportunities and how much flexibility you need.

When considering which area to specialise in, ask yourself:

  • Do I have the appropriate skills, training and experience?
  • Will I gain sufficient job satisfaction and be interested in the work?
  • Am I sufficiently motivated to work effectively in the post, during training and beyond?
  • Does the job fit with my own ethics, inner values and boundaries?
  • Does the job provide the balance I want between home and work life?
  • How might this specialty change over the next 30 years and will it suit me?

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

You may also be interested in checking the specialty recruitment acceptance and fill rates, which reveals the latest data for training positions from August 2019.


Get help with making an informed decision about your specialty

Specialty explorer is a tool for BMA members that supports your research into medical specialties and provides you with a personalised report.

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Choosing a career: top five 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 and use the available publications on the website
  • contact the appropriate royal college
  • read up on the various specialties

Think about options that will suit your preferences and skills:

  • think about life experiences and ambitions and where these might lead

Think about options that will suit your lifestyle:

  • use flexible training and working options
  • consider the on-call commitment for different specialties

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