Making a specialty choice

Advice and activities to help trainee doctors decide between specialties, from gaining a better understanding of your personal priorities and preferences to weighing up the different options in front of you.

This section is divided into three parts:

Understanding yourself
Seeking specialty information
Making a decision

Your career decision needs to be the right decision for you, you need to understand your preferences, priorities and the things that are most important to you for your life now and in the future. These activities are to help you reflect inwardly to make sure that you better understand what you want and need from your career.

Values activity

Explore the differences between shared/absolute values and personal values. Your personal values are those that can help you identify a choice that will allow you to work within your values.

View or download values activity

Stressor activity

Recognise the most common work-related stressors and reflect on those that impact upon you the most.

View or download stressors activity.

Skills activity

When making a career decision it is sensible to have an accurate knowledge into your personal strengths and weaknesses. Your skills will obviously develop over the course of your training but insight into those things that come more naturally may inform your choice.

View or download skills activity

Role model activity

Consider what effect the influencing people in your life may have on your decision.

View role models activity.

Whilst it can be difficult to find the time, information gathering will not happen by accident and you will need to put some time aside to seek out more to better understand the pathways available to you.

Information-gathering activity

This list is a starting point for you to look for more information.

Often Foundation trainees narrow down their options to two or three but find it hard to choose between them. Alternatively, trainees further on in their career sometimes need to decide whether to change specialty direction. When this happens, the information gathered from internal reflection and from external sources can feel overwhelming. These activities are to help you, understand yourself as a decision maker and structure your decision-making.

Maximiser or satisficer?

Be aware of the potential pitfalls in your natural decision-making process.

View maximiser/satisficer activity.

Decision-making preferences

Consider your natural preferences in the decision-making process and identify what parts you are most likely to miss.

View or download preferences activity.

Force-field analysis decision-making

Conduct a logical analysis of the forces acting for and against the options in front of you.

View or download force-field activity.

Timeline decision-making

Think about the future you want to have and how you might move towards that future in the decisions you make now.

View or download timeline decision-making activity.

Checking your decision-making

Some challenging questions to help you validate your decision and really check that you are confident in the decision you have made.

View them here.

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