Kenneth V. Iserson, M.D., MBA
Professor Emeritus, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Once you narrow your specialty choice to 6 to 12 options, get reliable information about each of them. The information you need includes:

  • What do specialists in that field do on a day-to-day basis?
  • What types of patients do they see?
  • How much of their time is spent in the hospital/surgicenter and how much in the clinic/office?
  • What procedures do they do?
  • What is their median income (after expenses)?
  • On average, how often are they sued over the course of their careers?
  • How much free time and control over their schedules do they have?
  • Is it easy for them to relocate to another region of the country?
  • How much of their day is spent on administrative work?

To get this information, which sources can you trust? Many students rely on information from their classmates, online chat rooms, and similarly suspect sources. A bit better is to ask specialty faculty members, although they may provide you with an unbalanced, that is, overly positive or negative, picture. The best sources for this information take a broader view and draw on a wealth of data. These include the specialties’ own websites (accessed through and recent peer-reviewed articles about the specialty (check on PubMed or My book, Iserson’s Getting Into a Residency: A Guide for Medical Students, has detailed information about the most popular residencies and (official and unofficial) fellowships.

Wherever you get the information, take the time to thoroughly investigate any specialty in which you have an interest. Before you leap into it, know as much as you can about how you plan to spend your career.


Based on: Iserson’s Getting Into a Residency: A Guide for Medical Students, 8th edition
Tucson, AZ: Galen Press, Ltd.


Sign up and be the first to get exclusive offers, sales, events, and more!

Yes, I would like to receive email newsletters with the latest news and information on products and services from Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc and selected cooperation partners in medicine and science regularly (about once a week). I agree to the use and processing of my personal information for this purpose. I can opt out at any time by clicking the "unsubscribe" link at the end of each newsletter.

Further information about data processing and your corresponding rights.

*Required field; all other fields are voluntary. We only use this information to personally address you in your newsletter.