I had a conversation today about a resident not in a family medicine program who wishes she would have chosen our specialty. Selection of a medical specialty often incorporates some of the common pitfalls in clinical medicine identified by Dr Goopman:

Anchoring – medical students tend to fixate on one specialty and do not open to other possibilities as they present

Availability – Students who identify with a resident mentor who was clinically strong will choose that specialty to emulate the resident

Attribution – Students will be offered stereotypes associated with various specialties from fellow students or non-physician teachers in the clinical years and will accept them rather than seek out information independently. They will then enter into the clinical years with this bias.

Fortunately, our specialty has put together a resource for medical students to assist them as they make career choices. They point out that 

“Students who choose family medicine, for instance, do so because:

  • They appreciate being an integral part of the nation’s health care system as a primary care physician.
  • They enjoy the full spectrum of care in having patients of all ages.
  • They find they can relate to people and want to develop long-term relationships with patients.
  • They enjoy a mix of seeing patients in community settings, performing procedures in-office, delivering babies, and holding in-depth patient consultations.”

We (and our patients) are fortunate to get folks into the specialty who think this way, especially if the student realizes that Family Medicine is for them early in his or her training…