Choosing a Medical Speciality Based on Your Personality

Choosing a Medical Speciality Based on Your Personality

When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I tell them I’m going to be a doctor. Then, I have a mini-existential crisis when I realize I’m 22 years old and almost a full-blown “grown-up.” Usually, after that, they ask me what kind of doctor I want to be. And then I have another crisis because I don’t really know what I’m going to specialize in. Sure, there are certain specialties that I’m drawn to. But, isn’t it too early to tell? And, how am I really supposed to know, considering there’s so many specialties to choose from?

I know, I know, there’s really no need for me to panic. It’s not until your third year of medical school that you actually start rotations, so there’s plenty of time to find the specialty that suits you. But, regardless, I’m still very fascinated by what speciality I’ll end up in, and I often day-dream about the types of illnesses I’ll be treating as a physician.

I’ve asked the doctors I shadowed about what drew them to their specific specialty. One of the answers that really stood out to me was that each speciality has a certain personality type—you’re often drawn to a specific speciality based on whether you possess its distinct personality.

It turns out many people use this personality-specialty match to figure out what specialty would be best for them. In fact, a book called The Ultimate Guide To Choosing A Medical Specialty created a chart (below) that matches medical specialties to four-letter Myers-Briggs personality types. Now, it’s by no means an exact science, but it’s a fun and interesting tool that shows you what specialty may be the best for you based on your MBTI personality score.

ISTJ Dermatology, OBGYN, Family Practice, Urology, Orthopedic Surgery
ISFJ Anesthesiology, Ophthalmology, General practice, Family practice, Pediatrics
ISTP Otolaryngology (ENT), Anesthesiology, Radiology, Ophthalmology, General practice
ISFP Anesthesiology, Urology, Family practice, Thoracic surgery, General practice
INTJ Psychiatry, Pathology, Neurology, Internal medicine, Anesthesiology
INFJ Psychiatry, Internal medicine, Thoracic surgery, General surgery, Pathology
INTP Neurology, Pathology, Psychiatry, Cardiology, Thoracic surgery
INFP Psychiatry, Cardiology, Neurology, Dermatology, Pathology
ESTJ OBGYN, General practice, General surgery, Orthopedic surgery, Pediatrics
ESFJ Pediatrics, Orthopedic surgery, Otolaryngology (ENT), General practice, Internal medicine
ESTP Orthopedic surgery, Dermatology, Family practice, Radiology, General surgery
ESFP Ophthalmology, Thoracic surgery, OBGYN, Orthopedic surgery, General surgery
ENTJ Neurology, Cardiology, Urology, Thoracic surgery, Internal medicine
ENFJ Thoracic surgery, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, Radiology
ENTP Otolaryngology (ENT), Psychiatry, Radiology, Pediatrics, Pathology
ENFP Psychiatry, Dermatology, Otolaryngology (ENT), Pediatrics

For those of you are unfamiliar, the Myers-Briggs Personality Test (MBTI) is a self-report questionnaire that indicates how you understand the world and make decisions. The MBTI breaks down personality into four dichotomies: Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I), Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F), Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N), and Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P). Based on how you answer the questions in the MBTI, you’re assigned a four letter combination that essentially explains your personality type. Below is a useful chart explains each Myers-Briggs personality type.

Choosing a Medical Speciality Based on Your Personality

I took an MBTI test online, and I found that I have an INTJ personality type—this means I’m generally introverted, use intuition more than sensing, favor thinking to feeling, and judge more than perceive. Of course, the MBTI isn’t for everyone, but personally I found that my results on the online test were almost scarily accurate.

So, based on the table above, the specialties that match my personality type are psychiatry, pathology, neurology, internal medicine, anesthesiology. I’ve been drawn to psychiatry and neurology for a while (I was a neuroscience major in college), so it was kinda assuring to see that my personality type matches these specialties. However, I am a little skeptical by how The Ultimate Guide To Choosing A Medical Specialty matched specialties to personality types. For instance, I do think that a speciality like psychiatry requires intuition (I)—you need to be able to see the big picture to understand how mental illness impacts various aspects of a patient’s life. Nonetheless, perhaps, it also requires feeling (F—a personality characteristic INTJ’s don’t use as much) because you need to able to empathize with psychiatric patients. So, while it seems like certain aspects of my personality match psychiatry, it’s clear that other aspects might not.

The MBTI is by no means prescriptive. I mean, I’m not sure I’ll end up in any of the specialties that my Myers-Briggs type indicates….who knows, maybe I’ll end up a surgeon! Regardless, I think it’s really cool to see what kind of options I may end up having. And, I certainly recommend future doctors to check out the MBTI, if only to gain insights on their personality.

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