Three in Four Medical School Graduates Switch Specialties

July 22, 2016


Among the most challenging aspects of medical school is choosing the right specialty. But if you’re having trouble making a decision, it’s good to know that you’re certainly not alone. In fact, statistics show that just one in four medical school graduates end up pursuing the same specialty that they declared the summer before beginning medical school.

This is according to information gleaned from information provided by 10,353 students who indicated a specialty preference on the 2015 Graduation Questionnaire (GQ) and participated in the Matriculating Student Questionnaire (MSQ) they were invited to complete the summer before the first year of medical school. Results of the surveys showed that just over half of the students who indicated a preference on the MSQ ended up in a different specialty than the one reported before gross anatomy and clinical rotations. Fifteen percent were undecided when they took the MSQ and another seven percent gave no MSQ response.

Certain specialties evidently have more staying power than others. These specialties, listed along with the percentage of surveyed students who reported sticking to their original choices, include:

  • Orthopaedic surgery: 53.6 percent
  • Pediatrics or a subspecialty: 37.7 percent
  • Neurological surgery: 33.1 percent
  • Emergency medicine or a subspecialty: 31.8 percent
  • Family medicine or a subspecialty: 31.6 percent

Specialties that students abandoned most are:

  • Internal medicine/pediatrics: 78.9 percent
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation or subspecialty: 69.9 percent
  • Urology: 71.0 percent
  • Otolaryngology or subspecialty: 68.1 percent
  • Preventive medicine or subspecialty: 66.7 percent

Volunteering and shadowing physicians in multiple clinical settings and specialties can help you hone in on just which form of medicine most interests you, as can enrolling at St. Augustine, FL’s WOLFPACC. We teach an innovative approach to studying and practicing medicine that can help more effectively direct your medical school path and assure a career you’ll love throughout the years. Call 904-209-3140 to learn more.