Nilufer Jain, co-Founder EduCat, an education consultancy for study abroad in medical studies throws light on career options for medical stream students.
In India,medical aspirants mostly dread not clearing the All India Pre Medical Test,because that usually defines,if they are going to look at medical studies or not.However,there lies in a bigger problem once MBBS is over:the issue of choosing a specialization, which is going to make them the ‘NareshTrehan’ of their field.
Choosing a career in medicine is as difficult as the training one has to undergo for it.This is because choosing a specialty involves a highly dynamic and a complex decision making process involving mental dexterity and a tenacious effort that will be shaping and ultimately affecting one’s career.
Hence,it is imperative that a thorough and intensive research is undertaken before choosing the career pathway of medical studies as well as correct guidance is sought from competent medical bodies during the undergraduate years in medicine.
Guidelines on choosinga Specialization
Some of the most pertinent questions that one should ask themselves while researching and considering the various fields/specializations are:
Nature of the Work-‐This question stems from the area of specialization you are looking at under-‐Preventive,diagnostic,treatment/cure.It deals with questions such as what systems, diseases and patients you will be treating,working with manifold verticals or singular specialized units, shift patterns,ethical aspects of the specialization,etc.
Academics and Training–Once a particular field or a few options have been narrowed down,the training part plays an important consideration factor. Training and skill set matching, duration of training,levels of academic years and clinical experience required for successful career growth,competitiveness in the field,pay scales in the field.
Work Environment-‐This question attributes to the Human Resource aspect of the hospital framework namely consultants, general physicians,allied healthcare professionals,who you will be working with more. This is an important consideration as this defines your work relationships in and around your career which can either augment or impede professional growth.
Market Trends–Depending upon the geographical region,growth of healthcare industry,and advancement of technology as well as diseases pattern different specializations in medicine are more lucrative over others.For example,In India,besides surgical fields,radiology and pathology are extremely lucrative fields.Whereas in the US,orthopedics surgery and cardiology(invasive and non invasive) occupy the top 3 medical specialties that are also the best paid amongst the others.Thus, one needs to evaluate the growth and changes in technology in the specialization and its anticipated demand as well as longevity of the demand in future.
Exploring Medical Careers Abroad
When looking at pursuing medical careers abroad it is important to understand the entry requirements of medical practitioners in that country, the academic and training qualifications required, the medical licensure examinations one needs to clear, the level of difficulty in clearing the licensure examinations, clearances from the various medical councils, the years of clinical experience as well as clinical skills required, visa criteria and fulfillment of those, specialty most sought after and open to international medical foreign graduates, pay scale in the particular specialty one belongs to, quality of work life available at the hospital/private healthcare unit one wants to work in, etc. the list goes on.
According to a research conducted by an American physician recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins and Associates on the medical specialties being the highest paid in the field, Orthopedic Surgery topped the list with an average annual package of US $ 464, 500.
Other specialties included – Cardiology (invasive and non invasive), Gastroenterology, Urology, Hematology, Oncology, Dermatology, Radiology, Pulmonology and General Surgery. The same were equally well paid in the UK.
However the lowest 10 specialties included – HIV/ Infectious diseases, pediatrics, family medicine, endocrinology, internal medicine, psychiatry, rheumatology, neurology, obstetrics/gynecology and pathology.
Where as in Australia Obstetricians, Gynecologists and intensive care specialists were also amongst the big earners as per an online journal published by an Australian research firm MJA insight.
Australian tax office figures on analyzing the tax collections of 2010-‐2011 of medical specialists found that besides surgeons who took a whopping figure of AUS $ 350,383, followed by anesthetists who earned on an average AUS $ 335, 940 annually, clearly making the cliché ‘ROAD to happiness – Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anesthesiology and Dermatology, sounding home.
Family Medicine in Canada however, as per Specialties and subspecialties that have been endorsed by provincial ministries of health to receive a Statement of Need in 2015, as published by the Health Canada, a government repository has received significant prevalence.
The main reasons for these specialties to be in top most demand in most western countries is because greater experience, less complex patients, college fellowship, more time spent in clinical work and working in regional areas were all factors that increased income.