Med students learn more about career options

Second-year student Miaoyuan Wang listens to a urology faculty member during the sixth annual Medical Specialty Speed Dating event. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Second-year medical student Miaoyuan Wang has never been to a speed-dating event. But she decided she would give one a try since many of her classmates were going, too.

Wang, however, was not searching for a dating partner. She, like the majority of her classmates, was looking for information on a variety of medical specialty options.

“I’m interested in primary care at the moment, but I have not made any decisions,” she said. “I’m unfamiliar with some specialties, and I wanted to find out more about them here.”

Wang was one of the 73 second-year students who went to the sixth annual Medical Specialty Speed Dating event held April 24 and sponsored by the College of Medicine’s Office of Student Counseling and Development.

Wang and classmates interact with faculty members and residents at the emergency medicine specialty table. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Forty-three faculty members and residents volunteered to sit at tables representing 18 different medical specialties to help second-year students get a closer look into each track. Fifteen fourth-year medical students also attended to share their recent experience during Match Day.

“The strength of this program is that so many of our own graduates who took advantage of this event during their second year in medical school come back to answer the same questions they once had,” said Beverly Vidaurreta, Ph.D., program director of the College of Medicine’s Office of Student Counseling and Development.

Students picked their top two preferences and were assigned four more randomly chosen tables to visit. Some chose to visit the specialties they already have in mind to pursue while others, like Wang, chose brand new specialties to explore.

Patrick Duff, M.D., associate dean for student affairs and professor of obstetrics and gynecology, talks with students about specialty and career options. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Knowing she would get plenty of opportunities to work with primary care physicians during her third-year rotations, Wang chose urology and ophthalmology.

“I really like working with my hands and enjoy interacting with patients on a personal level,” she said. “The ophthalmology professor spoke about how gratifying it is to dramatically improve people’s vision.  Being a visually oriented person myself, I thought it could be a good fit for me.”

Patrick Duff, M.D., associate dean for student affairs, interacted with students who were interested in finding out more about his specialty, obstetrics and gynecology.

“This is a good time for second-year students to refine their plans and think seriously about career choices,” Duff said. “Events like these help our students make some of the most important decisions of their lives.”

Mark Scarborough, M.D., professor and chair of the department of orthopaedics and rehabilitation, took time to answer students' questions about his specialty. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

After six rounds of conversation with the professionals, many students were able to set up shadowing opportunities with faculty members and learn what to expect during the last two years in medical school.

“I’m so grateful that so many of our faculty members and residents came out to share what they love about their jobs,” Wang said. “It helped me realize that medicine is a truly diverse profession. I am now more confident that I will find the best specialty for me.”