Choosing a Specialty

Choosing a specialty is a necessary, but not always easy, part of your medical school training. As you explore specialties, we recommend that you take advantage of the various resources available to you.

Careers in Medicine web site

The AAMC Careers in Medicine site* guides you through understanding yourself, exploring your options, choosing a specialty, and applying to residency. The Choosing a Specialty section provides you with resources and tools to compare and rate potential specialties. We highly recommend that you explore this site and use the Choosing Your Specialty tool to rate how well a specialty fits into your interests, values, and goals. After you explore these resources, bring the information to your Academic Advisor to discuss your thoughts and career path.

*Use your AAMC ID to log in to the CiM site. If you do not know your AAMC ID, contact the Stanford School of Medicine's Careers in Medicine Liason, Ray Jackman, at for an access code.

Student Interest Groups

Check with the many Student Interest Groups as a resource for exploring and learning more about specialties. The interest groups coordinate events and workshops, promote mentorship, and provide valuable networking opportunities.

Additional Resources

The NRMP Program Director Survey contains helpful information about the key components of the "portfolio" that is needed for each specialty program. It also contains data on the USMLE Step 1, the value of Letters of Recommendation, and more.

Many students recommend using Freeman's The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty, which can be accessed through Lane Library's ebrary.

The Advisors also have a simple paper chart similar to the Choosing Your Specialty tool mentioned above.