Somehow, almost 3.5 years of med school have flown by and we’ve reached the Promised Land that is Fourth Year (*cue Hallelujah Chorus). MS1 was all about the basic sciences, adapting to wearing a white coat without feeling like you’re at a costume party, and learning to take a thorough history (the most important key to diagnosis). MS2 was more clinical—we learned the basics of multiple specialties through our Intro to Clinical Medicine class and honed our physical exam skills. MS3 was the start of full-time clinical rotations—we explored the core specialties. Choosing a specialty is like shopping for a house. Each neighborhood/specialty has some similarities, but also some major differences. Throughout the year, you start realizing which ones are just neighborhoods you’d like to visit and which ones have houses you’d like to one day call “home.”
True to character and my personality type (shout out to my fellow ENFP’s), I didn’t make a decision until the very last rotation. I’d entered med school to fulfill my childhood dream of being a pediatrician, but also wanted to stay open to other specialties. I intentionally scheduled surgery as my last rotation because I knew I wouldn’t enjoy procedures. Well, turns out I was half right. I did enjoy pediatrics, and one of my favorite aspects was meeting some incredible kiddos (adorable too!), but one of the most frustrating aspects was not being able to fully address the parents’ health even though their health directly affects their child. I enjoyed developing relationships with patients in the hospital, but I hated not knowing the full story—what happened to my patient after they were discharged or after I finished the rotation? If I weren’t such a skilled sleeper, those are the questions that would have kept me up at night.
I planned to stick with peds, until I did my surgery rotation. Surprise twist: I LOVED surgery. As in, it was probably my favorite rotation. I worked with 2 wonderful private practice surgeons who also excelled in teaching. I first-assisted on everything and learned that I enjoy using my hands to provide an immediate fix to a problem. I also saw many of the (mostly adult) patients in clinic and realized I like seeing adult patients more than I initially thought. So, I found myself planting a “SOLD” sign outside a home in the Family Medicine neighborhood— the crazy, adventurous neighborhood filled with babies, toddlers, adolescents, pregnant mommas, senior citizens, and everyone in between!
One of the best parts of being an MS4 is doing away rotations and interviewing in your chosen specialty. You know you’re really at “home” in your chosen specialty when you feel like you’re meeting long-lost family at each interview/rotation. It’s so fun to be around people who’ve also decided to settle in, plant some flowers, pull out the lawn chairs, and have a bonfire in the same neighborhood that you’ve chosen. You get to discover all the fun aspects of your neighborhood with new friends and hopefully will quickly realize you made a great (albeit last-minute) decision to call this neighborhood “home.” And there’s truly no place like home.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
I’m an MS4 based at the Indy campus, though I spent MS1/2 at the Muncie campus. I started med school with a strong interest in international missions, pediatrics, education, and whole person care. I’m still interested in all those things, except I re...