Questions to Ask
As you plan your medical career and go through the match process, you may want to consider asking the following questions. Some are very targeted; others are open ended to encourage discussion. In seeking answers to these and other questions, you are well advised to tackle the questions not only from your own vantage point but to seek counsel from others who can help you with an independent reading of your own answers. It is very important to be honest with yourself and to develop realistic aspirations for your future life in the profession.

Questions about yourself and your goals

What were your original goals upon entering the study of Medicine? Are they still applicable?
What type of lifestyle do you envision for yourself?
Where do you see yourself practicing? (geographical location; urban, suburban, rural, etc.)
What aspects of medicine do you find most appealing?
Are there areas of medical practice (particular situations, types of patients, etc.) which you find difficulty in handling or which make you feel uncomfortable?
Which of your skills do you value highly and how do they intersect with your career choice? (i.e. do your skills and interest match the training and lifestyle in that specialty?)

Questions about practice characteristics in specialties

What type of patients are encountered?
How much direct patient contact is there?
What style does the patient contact have (i.e., lots of long-term follow-up, mostly consultative, etc...)?
What types of skills are required?
What type of disease entities and patient problems are dealt with?
Are there various practice options available within that specialty (e.g. urban, rural, academic, HMO, solo, group, etc...)?
What types of research are being done?
What type of lifestyle is afforded in that specialty?

Questions about the future of particular specialties

Is there likely to be active recruitment to the specialty?
Is the specialty relatively full?
In what settings will there be openings when training is complete?
What do practitioners inside the specialty believe is the future?
Are there predictions from health care industry analysts about the future of this specialty?

Questions about residency training in particular specialties

What is the length of training?
What are the goals of training? (i.e. What does residency training prepare you to do?)
How available are residency positions? How many are there and how much competition is there for a training slot?
What are the differences between training programs within the same speciality? Are there geographic differences? Are there institutional differences?
What is the potential for further training following a residency?
What are the requirements for subspecialty training? for fellowship training?

Questions to ask WU Faculty

What advice would you give to a student considering an application to your specialty?
Could you give me some sense about what you think life in your specialty is like?
What are the strengths and weaknesses?
If you could change some things about your specialty, what would you change?
What is the long-range outlook for graduates in your specialty?
What is your specialty looking for in applicants for residency education?
Could you comment on how competitive residency positions are in your specialty?
Are there particular things I should be doing to maximize my chance of getting my top residency choice?
I am considering applying to these programs. In view of my interests and performance, do you think these are wise choices? How competitive do you think my application for this specialty will be?
Are there specific programs you would advise me to consider?
Are there specific programs you would advise me to avoid? Why?
What portion of a candidate's application and curriculum vitae do you consider most important in ranking students in the matching process? How important is the interview? What aspects are you particularly seeking to define about a candidate from the interview? Are these generally the same for other programs in your specialty?
Are there particular things I should be planning to include in my fourth year elective schedule which will help me in defining a career path or in gaining entry to one of my top program choices?
Is there anyone in particular with whom I should speak regarding my application?

Further Reading

"How to Choose A Medical Specialty," by Anita D. Taylor, W.B. Saunders Company