Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy


Medical Specialties

Alright folks, in anticipation of hitting the wards in less than 3 months, it's time to start racking my brain about what I want to do with my life. We'll start with my big no's first- it's easier to rule out than in.

Aww hellz no!


The good: Amazing hours. Get techie enough and you could probably even work at home while sipping lattes from your own personal espresso machine. Zero malpractice.
The bad: Much as holding rotten, gangrenous penises gets me going, I'm going to pass on this one. Zero patient contact, zero procedures (autopsies / CSI:Miami excepted).
The ugly: See "rotten penis" above.


The good: Nifty images, lots of diagnoses to be made, great hours, good pay.
The bad: No patients, except on screen. Could quickly move to "good" category as I actually start seeing patients.
The ugly: Sitting in a dark room all day and slowly developing a thirst for human blood.

General Surgery:

The good: Cutting people open and not getting arrested for it. Boy's club.
The bad: Angry coworkers, gunner med students (you know who you are), overworked attendings, shitty hours, bad pay, high malpractice ...
The ugly: All of the above, combined with a sheer lack of sleep and the realization that your life is the definition of misery.

General Peds:

The good: Cute, cute kids. Adorably cute. It makes you want to pinch their cheeks... which you are fully within rights to do as a "diagnostic test".
The bad: 2 seasons: Physical Exam season (AKA the ol' grab 'n cough) and 'Flu season (AKA eat some chicken soup, you'll be fine).
The ugly: Parents who Nair their babies.

Vascular/Cardiothoracic/Transplant Surgery:

The good: Ridiculous pay (mostly). The knowledge that you can out-asshole anybody you'll ever meet.
The bad: Hours that make God look like a slacker for taking 6 whole days.
The ugly: See "out-asshole".


The good: Comfy couches, finally a use for Aunt Myrtle's knitted sweaters.
The bad: Developing a googly-eyed stare (please, tell me more!).
The ugly: Psychoanalyzing everyone you meet. Knowing you're a shrink.

I could be swayed on:


The good: Delivering babies (joy!), being a primary care doc for the mother, seeing kids you've delivered in grocery stores, GYN surgery.
The bad: Malpractice/hours blow harder than almost any other specialty.
The ugly: Moms poop during delivery. Guess whose face is right up in there?

Orthopaedic Surgery:

The good: Seeing patients doubles as working out. Consulting for major sports teams means free skybox season tickets.
The bad: If you don't watch sports, you're way out of your league (ba-dum!)
The ugly: Hip replacements on 70-year-old women. Yikes.

Family Practice:

The good: You're the definition of "doctor", lots of continuity of care, huge variability in day-to-day routine.
The bad: Fine, if nobody else will, I'll say it- you don't make very much, and I really, really want a waterproof plasma TV in my shower.
The ugly: Dealing with specialists.

You have potential, young padawan...


The good: Sharks + laser beams are finally a reality.
The bad: You look at eyes all day. Half your patient base is diabetic / hypertensive / both.
The ugly: Screw up and people go blind.

Internal Medicine:

The good: You have 3 years to figure out what you want to do, and most internal subspecialties are interesting and pay well.
The bad: Old people smell funny.
The ugly: Cultivating an unhealthy interest in shit, piss, and vomit.

Otolaryngology (ENT):

The good: Sooooo much cool stuff in Ear / Nose / Throat. Similar to ophtho in that the pay is insane and the possibilities after residency are endless.
The bad: I mean, you specialize in picking other people's noses.
The ugly: Boogers were gross before. Now they're infected and oozing everywhere and all over your hands and you can never get clean again no matter how hard you scrub AAAaaaaaaa......


The good: Nifty toys, killer stories at cocktail parties (and future blogging!), hysterical coworkers.
The bad: You're a pee doctor. People will always giggle behind your back for that.
The ugly: Rotten penises. Dammit! They're EVERYWHERE!!!

Pediatric _______:

The good: Kids rule. Adding Pediatric + Anything would be kickass.
The bad: When you diagnose cancer, it's in a kid. Suck.
The ugly: Parents.

Emergency Medicine:

The good: Dude, you're an ER doc. As far as badasses go, you're it (also on this list: trauma surgeons).
The bad: Shiftwork can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it.
The ugly: Drug seekers, being the primary care doc for anyone who can crawl in the door. There's a lot more ugly in EM than most fields.


The good: There's a reason this field is hard to get into: lifestyle. Derm is the definition.
The bad: Seinfeld already made fun of you; it's downhill from there.
The ugly: Oozy, weepy, pustular sores. Actually, I really like this kind of stuff... I wrote my application essay on how much fun it was to pop a perianal abscess.

Filed under: Best Of, Medicine Comments Off
Comments (12) Trackbacks (1)
  1. i’d like to make a point that path docs do get sued!! miss a diagnosis of cancer????!!!? who else does that fall on???

  2. A point about Radiology…your “bad” and “ugly” points are actually good. Therefore, QED, Radiology is the best.

  3. You haven’t been to any of my Family Med lunchtime talks because of our reciprocity agreement, but just about all of our speakers showed some amount of contempt for the reimbursement issue. Believe me, the fact that family docs don’t make much moolah is well known.

  4. What a great summary! Let me add one thing — radiology is a dependent specialty. No one gets a (whatever) and thinks ‘Damn, I better get me to a radiologist.’ So, a decent practice means keeping on good terms with your feeder docs.

  5. tell me about anesthesiology. i’m starting med school, and am really thinking about it. pain med vs. pediatric vs. OR? thanks!

  6. I’ve got to make a choice like this soon, but for veterinary medicine.

    If youthink mothers pooping during delivery is bad, imagine our life. Our patients poop all the time, and when you’re up to your armpits in cattle obstetrics they poop too.

  7. you can get patients in radiology if you do ecography..

    oh crap i dont know what i want

  8. I know this post is nearly two years old, but it’s an entertaining — and informative — read. Gives me lots to think about. 😉

  9. My friend on Orkut shared this link with me and I’m not dissapointed at all that I came here.

  10. if you have facebook and like, liking pages you can make your own at oh and if your page gets 1K or more likes i will pay you $10 (:

  11. I want to see what your view is on Neurology. A second opinion never hurts.

  12. Pathology can have patient contact in the right setting. It also has a great lifestyle, no call and good pay. My friends are making 400k. I am a dermatologist and an thinking about going full-time dermpath. Seeing patients is very draining over the years and not as fulfilling as one might think. Path and Radiology are the best specialties out there.