"Anesthesiology is dedicated to the complete medical and anesthetic care of the surgical patient. It is a precise, technical, and intellectual specialty that requires high standards and attention to detail. Anesthesiologists care for the whole patient before, during, and after the operation. They administer powerful anesthetics, render patients insensible to pain and stress, provide respiratory support, and manage every medical need of the patient throughout the surgical experience. To do so, anesthesiologists closely monitor and treat the acute pathophysiology of multiple organ systems: cardiac, pulmonary, renal, endocrine, hematologic, and neurologic. It is a specialty that ties together the cerebral nature of internal medicine with the procedural interventions and life-support of critical care medicine."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York, p.159.
Cardiology is the practice of medicine concerned with disorders of the heart and circulatory system. The field focuses on diagnosing, treating, and managing patients with cardiovascular conditions such as myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), heart arrhythmias, hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure, heart defects, infections, and related disorders. Cardiology is unique as it is constantly evolving, is intellectually stimulating, and provides a plethora of research opportunities. Today, cardiologists use a combination of non-invasive tests, such as ECGs, echocardiograms, stress tests, CT scans, and invasive procedures (i.e. coronary angiography and electrophysiology studies) to provide patients with comprehensive care. Multiple distinct subspecialties within cardiology exist that provide a wide array of career opportunities. In broad terms, these subspecialties can be divided into electrophysiology, interventional, heart failure, nuclear, imaging, obstetric, sports, and preventive cardiology. In clinical practice, the boundaries among the different subspecialties are not fixed. Most cardiologists use a combination of two or more types of tests and work closely with other cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and healthcare providers to treat their patients. In terms of residency training to become a cardiologist, it is important to note that adult cardiology is a subspecialty of internal medicine while pediatric cardiology is a subspecialty of pediatrics.
Med School Insiders – So You Want to Be a Cardiologist
UMN Department of Medicine – Cardiovascular Division
UMN Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program
UMN Division of Pediatric Cardiology
UMN Research in Cardiology
UMN Department of Surgery – Cardiothoracic Surgery
UMN Visible Heart Laboratories
American College of Cardiology
"Dermatology is the branch of medicine concerned with the skin and skin-related diseases and disorders…. Dermatologists see people of all ages who present with skin diseases (either benign or malignant) involving the mouth, hair, nails, sweat and sebaceous glands, external genitalia, and mucous membranes."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.177.
"Emergency medicine involves the immediate care of urgent and life-threatening conditions found in the critically ill and injured. These physicians are really specialists in breadth — their broad-based training encompasses acute problems that span several clinical disciplines. No other specialty can match the astounding variety of patients found within the emergency room. You will see, hear, and smell things that most doctors will not. In just one shift, an EP may care for patients presenting with asthma attacks, atrial fibrillation, gunshot wounds, dislocated shoulders, and even cockroaches stuck in their ears."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.189.
Emergency Medicine Resources
"In the tradition of this community-based specialty, family physicians are well integrated into their communities and actively address issues in their patients' lives other than medical problems. This is why family medicine doctors serve as advocates for patients, health care systems, and social change. No matter the role, these physicians emphasize health maintenance, disease prevention, and chronic illness management, always aware of the psychosocial dimensions of their patients' lives."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 207.
Family Medicine Resources
- Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
- Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health
- Video: The 50th anniversary celebration of the department of family medicine that highlights the programs and offerings of the specialty
- Video: Specialty Spotlight: Family Medicine with Dr. Sandy Stover
- AAFP: Medical School and Residency
- AAFP App for tablets and mobile devices
- FAQ about Family Medicine (from "American Family Physician")
- AAMC Careers in Medicine: Family Medicine Specialty Information
- STFM: Advising Students for Matching Into Family Medicine
"Internists take care of the general medical problems of adults. In a single day, they can act as a diagnostician, an educator, a director, an advocate, a motivator, a healer, and a comforter. In the clinic, they treat their patients' aches, pains, and sniffles. They also come to their bedsides in the hospital and manage their inpatient care. Some internists spend their time providing acute and chronic primary care; others become sub-specialists in cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, and more."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York.p.239.
Internal Medicine Resources
“Blending together the principles of internal medicine and pediatrics, med-peds (or IMP) is the largest and most popular combined program. ...IMP offers an alternative choice for physicians-in-training who wish to treat patients of all ages but do not want to become family practitioners. ...After completing the four year program, they are eligible to sit for board certification examinations in both internal medicine and pediatrics. ...Family practice has a wider scope, while IMP has a greater depth. ...Instead of rotations in obstetrics, gynecology, and surgical subspecialties, [as in family medicine residency programs] IMP residency provides additional training in inpatient and critical care experiences involving both adults and children. ...It is possible for patients and families to meet all their health care needs in the same setting with the same doctor. ...This continuity of care is particularly beneficial for children with chronic illnesses, such as cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, or congenital heart defects, as they transit into adulthood.”
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 81-82.
Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Resources
"Neurology is the practice of medicine that concentrates on the human brain and nervous system. From higher cognitive disorders (such as Alzheimer dementia) to diseases of nerve and muscle (neuropathies and myopathies), neurologists serve as nervous system specialists at every level. With compassion and dedication, neurologists take care of patients presenting with a wide variety of complaints: headaches, numbness, weakness, tremors, seizures, speech difficulty, and changes in consciousness."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 263.
- Department of Neurology
- Video: Neurology Specialty Spotlight, 2-7-2020
- AAMC Careers in Medicine: Neurology Specialty Information
- American Neurological Association
- American Academy of Neurology
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons
- Child Neurology Society
- Student Interest Group in Neurology (SIGN)
- If you are interested in attending Neurology Grand Rounds, contact Cathie Witzel at email@example.com. All UMN medical students are welcome.
“Since neurosurgery is a specialty focused on a physiological system rather than a specific anatomical region, neurosurgeons treat diseases that affect all types of patients in various parts of their bodies. For example, a typical neurosurgeon not only operates on the brain and spinal cord but may also perform procedures on the skull, face, neck, spine, arms, and legs. Neurosurgeons care for some of the youngest patients in the hospital, such as a premature infant with a congenital malformation, as well as young and elderly adults suffering from trauma, tumors, infections, vascular anomalies, or degenerative disorders.”
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 281.
Obstetrics & Gynecology
"These multidisciplinary specialists practice preventive medicine, deliver new lives into the world, and perform life-altering surgery. Half of their patients are healthy young women who come for prenatal care or annual physical examinations. However, with the longevity and desire for a healthier life, the rest of the practice consists of physically active mature women who are concerned about ‘life surrounding and after menopause.’ More than just experts on the pelvic region and reproductive tract, obstetrician-gynecologists must handle problems that require highly technical medical and surgical skills, and, at the other end of the spectrum, be sensitive observers who can give psychological support.”
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 297.
Obstetrics and Gynecology Resources
"Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that provides the complete medical and surgical care of the eye and related structures of the visual system (extraocular muscles, eyelids, orbit, nerves, visual pathways, and more). Yes, they can (and often do) prescribe glasses and contact lenses. But their spectrum of care extends much further. It requires mastery of the anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and pathophysiology of the eye, as well as an understanding of optical physics. To treat ocular and visual disorders, ophthalmologists are really both internists and surgeons."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.311.
- Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences
- AAMC Careers in Medicine: Ophthalmology Specialty Information
- American Academy of Ophthalmology
- Residency Match Basics for Ophthalmology
- Probability of Success in the Ophthalmology Residency Match: Three Year Outcomes Analysis of San Francisco Matching Program Data
- American Academy of Opthalmology Resources for Medical Students
"The specialty of orthopedics basically involves the care of the musculoskeletal system, which includes care of most disorders and injuries in the upper and lower extremities as well as the spine. As such, future orthopedic surgeons need a thorough knowledge of the anatomy, mechanics, and physiology of this body system. You master everything there is to know about each muscle, nerve, and blood vessel within all parts of the musculoskeletal system. In addition, proper diagnosis and management of orthopedic injuries requires a solid grasp of forensics and physics to understand the mechanisms of injury."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 325.
"The official name for this specialty is Otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. This specialty involves both the medical and surgical care of all structures related to the head and neck (basically, above the clavicles and excluding the brain and eye). … Although most physicians and patients still refer to these surgeons simply as ‘ENTs,’ this specialty is, in reality, so much more than ears, noses, and throats. Otolaryngologists are also experts in the management of head and neck tumors (e.g., thyroid and salivary gland), chronic pediatric infections (tonsillectomies, adenoidectomies, and tympanostomy tube placement), facial trauma and cosmetic deformities, and diseases of the airway and phonation (laryngoscopy, bronchoscopy, palate surgery for snoring and sleep apnea), and assessing and treating hearing loss in adults and children."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.340.
"The practice of pathology involves the detection, analysis, and understanding of disease process. As the only branch of medicine considered both a basic science and a clinical specialty, pathology is somewhat unique. By studying tissues, cells, and fluid samples, pathologists unravel the mysteries of how a particular disease arises and develops. To do so, they draw on a variety of methods, ranging from microbiology to molecular biology …The practice of pathology is divided into two primary areas - anatomic and clinical. Anatomic pathologists examine organs, tissues, and cells to diagnose or further characterize a disease process. They make exact diagnoses on specimen from sources including biopsy, fine-needle aspiration, body-fluid analysis, exfoliation, autopsy, and surgery--and the information they provide in the pathology report is used for patient prognostication and management. . ….Clinical pathologists analyze blood, body fluids, or other patient specimens. They are experts in the scientific principles and techniques of laboratory medicine as well as administrative aspects of overseeing a laboratory."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. pp. 354-355.
"Pediatrics is the specialty of medicine that focuses on the comprehensive care of children – beginning from birth and continuing through the adolescent years. …In addition to the primary care and preventive medicine of general pediatrics, pediatricians can choose to focus on acute problems requiring immediate treatment (critical care, neonatology, emergency medicine) or a wide range of technical procedures (cardiology, pulmonology, gastroenterology). …It is important to note that caring for kids is not just about treating their physical and medical problems. Every good pediatrician also addresses the mental and emotional health of his or her patients, which is equally as important as organic disease."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 349.
- Department of Pediatrics
- Information for Applicants to UMN Pediatrics Residency Program
- AAMC Careers in Medicine: Pediatrics Specialty Information
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- Academic Pediatric Association
- American Pediatric Society
- Society for Pediatric Research
- Specialty Spotlight: Pediatrics with Johannah Scheurer, MD, FAAP
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
"Physical medicine and rehabilitation is the discipline concerned with preventing, diagnosing, and treating a variety of neurologic, musculoskeletal, and cardiopulmonary disorders through rehabilitative measures. A typical patient base can include, but is not limited to, those with conditions such as strokes, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, burn injuries, postchemotherapy and cancer deconditioning, sports injuries, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and in children, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, and postoperative orthopedic procedures. Because of the vast spectrum of disease, physiatrists can focus on one (or more) of these medical problems."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York.p. 389-390.
Rehabilitation Medicine Resources
- Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
- American Academy of PM&R medical student resources
- American Academy of PM&R "About PM&R
- Association of Academic Physiatrists Medical Student page
- Association of Academic Physiatrists "Pocket Mentor" podcasts for students
- Summer Medical Student programs (RREMS and MSSCE)
"It has been said that plastic surgeons operate on 'the skin and its contents,' alluding to the fact that on any given day plastic surgeons might find themselves operating on the face, on the hand, inside the cranium, or inside the abdominal or thoracic cavities. The field has developed from the contributions of people from many different backgrounds, including general surgery, orthopedics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, dermatology, neurosurgery, and otolaryngology. Plastic surgery encompasses all of aesthetic surgery, yet it also deals with clinical entities, including chronic wounds, limb replantation, and head and neck reconstruction…..The breadth of anatomy seen within a typical week (or even within a single day) often includes the head, neck, chest, abdomen, lower and upper extremities, breast, and hand. Some may view this as a liability. Most plastic surgeons, however, welcome the variety and tend to become bored if repeatedly faced with the same types of clinical problems. They enjoy the beauty of anatomy, especially that of the more intricate regions, such as the hand and face."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 407-409.
Plastic Surgery Resources
"Psychiatry is the field of medicine dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. The diseases psychiatrists treat include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, addiction, delirium and dementia, anxiety, and personality disorders. As physicians who treat the mentally ill, psychiatrists have some of the most rewarding long-term relationships with their patients. This is an interdisciplinary specialty, well-suited for doctors who wish to use the broadest of all skills - psychosocial, scientific, and clinical. Historically, psychotherapy has always formed the core of psychiatry. But with remarkable advances in neuroscience and drug therapy, this field of medicine has shifted to a more biological-based approach. Now, psychiatrists draw on the latest research in brain imaging, genetics, and psychopharmacology to treat many debilitating disorders."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 419.
- Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science
- Apply to page for Psychiatry
- PsychSIGN: Psychiatry Interest Group at UMN
- AAMC Careers in Medicine: Psychiatry Specialty Information
- Specialty Spotlight: Psychiatry with Dr. Kaz Nelson
- Guide to Applying for Psychiatric Residency from the American Psychiatric Association
- Link to Dr. Kaz Nelson’s “Psychiatry Interested” Website (Contains links to newsletters with local events, clinical and scholarly rotations and opportunities!)
- Key Twitter handles: @KazJNelson @JonathanHomans @LoraWichserMD @HennRegionsPD
- Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to enroll in the “Psychiatry Interested” e-mail distribution list.
"Radiation oncology is the specialty of medicine that uses radiant energy for treating usually malignant disease and occasionally benign disease. Radiation oncologists are a fundamental component of the interdisciplinary practice of cancer treatment and may act as both consultants to referring physicians and primary oncologists to patients. Using a broad oncologic fund of knowledge, the radiation oncologist approaches the treatment of cancer with meticulous application of his/her technical expertise. If their knowledge base and relationship to the patient is like that of the medical oncologist (doctors who prescribe chemotherapy), the approach is more akin to the surgeon."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 435.
Radiation Oncology Resources
"Radiology is the branch of medicine in which radiologic images are interpreted for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. Technological advances in medical imaging - and its growing role in the diagnosis and management of disease - have transformed radiology into one of the premier fields of modern medicine. Many of the greatest achievements in health care have come from radiologists."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p.453.
"Surgery, the treatment of disease by operation, is often definitive therapy — many times curative — for a broad range of conditions affecting all organ systems. The general surgeon treats diseases of the entire body, from the skin to the blood vessels, to the liver, and beyond. The surgical subspecialties focus on specific body regions, that is, cardiothoracic surgeon address problems of the heart, lungs, and other organs within the thorax (chest), whereas other specialties focus on certain body systems or patient populations, that is, vascular surgeons operate on arteries and veins and pediatric surgeons operate primarily on infants and children. No matter the subspecialty, surgeons are knowledgeable in critical care, and often care for their own critically ill patients in the ICU.”
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 223.
- Department of Surgery
- Association of Women Surgeons
- Link to Dr. Paula Tremuhlen’s Specialty Profile Video
- AAMC Careers in Medicine: Surgery Specialty Information
- Medical Student Information on Surgical Residencies
- Essentials on General Surgery Residencies
- American Board of Surgery
- Association for Surgical Education
- American College of Surgeons
- Medical Student Information from American College of Surgeon
- Women in Surgery Interest Group Panel of 2020 Graduates who Matched in Surgery Responses
"Urology is a surgical subspecialty focusing on the urinary tract of men and women, as well as the reproductive system of men. …Urologists are masters of everything that has to do with the passage of urine, from its production in the kidney to its release through the urethra. They surgically correct problems such as obstructing posterior urethral valves in newborn boys or bladder outlet obstruction caused by benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) in elderly men. Urinary tract infections (UTIs), which affect every age group and can be quite destructive, make up a large proportion of cases seen by urologists, especially if it progresses to a worrisome infection of the kidney itself (pyelonephritis).”
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 467.
"Vascular surgery involves the arteries and veins of the entire body, from the neck to the distal extremities. Surgical procedures include carotid endarterectomies, arteriovenous fistulas, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repairs, bypass procedures to revascularize threatened extremities, angiographic procedures, amputations for ischemia, repair of pseudoaneurysms, and repair of any type of disruption of blood vessels. Vascular surgery is now characterized by procedures including endovascular AAA repairs, carotid stent grafting, peripheral endovascular therapies, and advances in vascular technology and research. There is an increasing demand for vascular surgeons given the aging population with vascular diseases. Due to the fact that the vascular disease process is not limited to specific parts of the body, patients often have heart, pulmonary, and comorbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and increased cholesterol. Therefore, these patients are very sick and high-risk operative candidates. Vascular surgeons are skilled operators who operate despite dangerous conditions in hopes of improving the lives of their debilitated patients. The fellowship is 2 years in length. If you are confident in pursuing a vascular surgery career, you may want to consider applying to several integrated vascular surgery residencies that now exist. They are 5 years in length and the first 2 years cover core general surgery rotations. The last 3 years are dedicated to vascular surgery training."
— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 235.