The field I am most interested in is pathology. I have a very logical mind and would enjoy being able to solve the complex puzzle of disease. I would also like the somewhat flexible hours compared to other more intensive specialties. However, I do have some qualms.
I'm also interested in general surgery. I would love to learn how to perform all the different types of surgeries that surgeons perform. If I were to be a pathologist, would it be "knife-free"? Pathology really intrigues me, but participating in the occasional surgery sounds like it would be extremely interesting and full of learning opportunities.
There is some knife wielding in pathology. Specimens must be properly cut, and there is the occasional autopsy. However, it's definitely not surgery.
What does a pathologist really do? I've looked at various descriptions online, and none of them seem to be very specific. What would a typical day look like for a pathology resident? I was also wondering what types of skills pathologists are taught?
Pathologists spend most of their days looking at specimens, mostly microscopic slides. Here is what pathology residents at Johns Hopkins learn.
I know that medicine is constantly evolving. With new medical technology, certain fields will soon become obsolete. Do you think this will happen to pathology?
I suppose there will be some technical advances that might involve automated digital reading of pathology slides, but I believe there always will be a need for pathologists. A residency position in pathology is much easier to obtain than one in general surgery.
Since I'm interested in both pathology and general surgery, I was wondering if there was a way I could do them both (in a combined program or something like that). I know this is highly unlikely.
It can't be done.
I am a very anxious person. Specifically, I have health anxiety. (I'm all too aware of the irony). Do you think that the amount and intensity of the material covered during med school and residency could take a severe toll on a person's mental health?
I think every medical student at some point worries she might have a disease she just read about. I'm not sure what to tell you because I am not a psychiatrist, but studying diseases for four years and having a health anxiety might be a problem.
I would also like to know whether being involved in medicine could dramatically alter a person's personality by magnifying their negative characteristics. I am very driven, hard-working, ambitious, logical, easily annoyed/frustrated, and sometimes easily distracted. I'm quite anal-retentive and OCD. Some of my friends and family have described me as an emotional robot. How do you think these characteristics would be affected by a journey through medicine?
Many medical students and residents become less empathetic and more jaded as they go through medical school and residency. Except for being easily distracted, many of your traits are common in med students. Here's more about empathy and medical students.
Do you know how difficult it is for Canadian students to get into American med schools? Or do you know any medical schools abroad in English speaking countries (e.g. Scotland, England) that would be willing to admit international students? Also, would it be more difficult for a woman?
It's not easy. Here is a link to a website that has some data on Canadian applicants to US schools. I don't know much about UK schools. I've written about Caribbean schools. Type "Caribbean" in the search field of my blog. Being a woman won't matter.
How would medicine affect interpersonal relationships? I'm really close with my immediate family, and it would be difficult not being able to see them all the time, let alone during holidays or breaks. How can a person manage a serious relationship and medicine at the same time?
It can be done, but it takes some effort. I have written a few posts about so-called work-life balance.
Choosing a specialty is difficult
More about choosing a specialty
Anguish about choosing a specialty
Surgery and work/home conflict
I hope this helps. Good luck.