“I am rather shy and introverted. Can I have a successful career in the medical field?” The answer is yes.
According to Medscape’s 2018 Physician Lifestyle & Happiness report, which surveyed over 15,543 physicians across 29 disciplines, as many as 35% physicians identified as ‘introverts. In fact, instead of perceiving introversion as a drawback, medical schools are asserting how introverted students prove to be more thoughtful and reflective about their role and relationships with patients, a trait decidedly positive in a clinical career. Some research suggests that introverts may be well-suited for certain roles within the medical field, such as primary care physicians, due to their tendency to be empathetic and good listeners. However, other roles, such as surgery, may be more challenging for introverts as they require more assertiveness and public speaking
So, if you are someone who prefers “quiet concentration, favors listening rather than talking and thinking before speaking”, enjoys in-depth, one-on-one conversations, and exhibits a more contemplative, independent and empathetic character, we believe these medical specialties would be a perfect fit in line with your personality:
- Pathology: Pathologists primarily work in laboratories, analyzing samples of bodily fluids and tissues to diagnose diseases. Since a major part of your day will be spend inside the lab, this ensures minimal face-to-face interaction with patients. However, the frequency of your interactions varies from sub-specialty to sub-specialty. For instance, clinical pathologists may need to interact with colleagues and staff members more often, but an anatomic pathologist can evade interaction and review specimens independently.
- Radiology: Radiologists read and interpret medical images, such as x-rays and CT scans, to diagnose and monitor illnesses. While they work directly with patients to take the scans, there is no need to interact directly with the patients, except to give them directions regarding risks, and safety procedures.
- Dermatology: Dermatologists diagnose and treat skin conditions and diseases, which can often be done with minimal patient interaction.
- Anesthesiology: Anesthesiologists administer anesthesia to patients before surgical procedures, and may work mostly behind the scenes. This career is suited for introverts since much of your work begins after the patient is sedated, so it entails limited patient relationships. Anesthesiologists can quietly monitor vital signs and administer doses while another physician performs the procedure. However, do keep in mind that you will need to work closely with surgeons and rest of the surgical staff during the procedure.
- Epidemiology: Epidemiologists study patterns and causes of disease in populations, and may spend much of their time analyzing data. It can be a good career choice for introverts because it often involves working independently, analyzing data, and communicating findings through written reports rather than public speaking. Epidemiologists often work in research settings, where they can focus on their work without the pressure of constant social interaction. Additionally, they may not require as much face-to-face interaction with patients as other medical professionals, such as doctors or nurses.
Furthermore, Epidemiology is a field that requires attention to details, and introverts are often known for their attention to detail, making them well-suited for the role of an epidemiologist. They also have the ability to work for long hours and focus on one task for extended periods of time, which is a skill that is highly valued in epidemiology.
It’s important to note that while these specialties may be well-suited for introverts, it doesn’t mean that introverts are not fit for other medical specialties or that extroverts cannot thrive in the specialties mentioned above. Caribbean medical schools welcome both kinds of physicians, since diversity in the medical field leads to more accomplished and resilient physicians.