Image by Luis Melendez

Career Direction

Making a Specialty Choice

There is a range of support available, whether you are Foundation Doctor and unsure which specialty to choose, a specialty trainee and want to change careers, or perhaps you are thinking about leaving medicine altogether.​

Advice and activities to help trainee doctors decide between specialties, from gaining a better understanding of your personal priorities and preferences to weighing up the different options in front of you.

Understanding Yourself

Seeking Specialty


Making a Decision

Understanding Yourself

Your career decision needs to be the right decision for you, you need to understand your preferences, priorities and the things that are most important to you, for your life now and in the future. These activities are to help you reflect inwardly to make sure that you better understand what you want and need from your career.


Explore the differences between shared/absolute values and personal values. Your personal values are those that can help you identify a choice that will allow you to work within your values.



Recognise the most common work-related stressors and reflect on those that impact upon you the most.



When making a career decision it is sensible to have an accurate knowledge into your personal strengths and weaknesses. Your skills will obviously develop over the course of your training but insight into those things that come more naturally may inform your choice.


Role Model

Consider what effect the influencing people in your life may have on your decision.




Seeking Specialty Information

There is a range of support available, whether you are Foundation Doctor and unsure which specialty to choose, a specialty trainee and want to change careers, or perhaps you are thinking about leaving medicine altogether.​

Whilst it can be difficult to find the time, information gathering will not happen by accident and you will need to put some time aside to seek out more to better understand the pathways available to you.

  • Speak with Junior doctors in your chosen specialty/ies, try to get a balanced viewpoint by speaking with a few different trainees at different stages.

  • Speak with Consultants in your chosen specialty/ies, remember you will be a consultant for much longer than you are a junior doctor and sometimes the consultant day-to-day job differs substantially from the junior doctor day-to-day job.

  • Organise taster days/weeks, these usually need to be sorted out quite well ahead of time so start early.

  • BMA.jpg

    BMA Specialty Explorer

    Specialty explorer can help you consider fields you may not otherwise have considered.

    Answer a series of questions to receive a personalised report of the top 10 medical specialities that match your answers.

  • Health-Careers.jpg

    Health Careers

    Compare medical jobs to get bite-size information on the entry requirements and training, pay and conditions, prospects and skills 

  • COpmed.jpg

    COPMeD- Gold Guide

     A reference guide for UK postgraduate specialty training 

  • HEE.jpg

    HEE- Guidelines for changing specialty

    June 2020

  • HEE.jpg

    HEE- Recruitment Guidance

    Person specifications

    Competition ratios

    Application process


  • medic footprint.jpg

    Medic Footprints

    Empowering doctors to look at career opportunities beyond medicine.


PSWS Thames Valley is here to offer you coaching and support for career dilemmas

Making a decision

Often Foundation trainees narrow down their options to two or three but find it hard to choose between them. Alternatively, trainees further on in their career sometimes need to decide whether to change specialty direction. When this happens, the information gathered from internal reflection and from external sources can feel overwhelming. These activities are to help you, understand yourself as a decision maker and structure your decision-making.

Maximiser or satisfier?

Be aware of the potential pitfalls in your natural decision-making process.

Decision making preferences

Consider your natural preferences in the decision-making process and identify what parts you are most likely to miss.Decision making preferences 

Force field analysis decision maker

Conduct a logical analysis of the forces acting for and against the options in front of you.


Timeline decision making

Think about the future you want to have and how you might move towards that future in the decisions you make now.

Challenging your decision making

Some challenging questions to help you validate your decision and really check that you are confident in the decision you have made.