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I'm a freshly graduated Medical Doctor and I'm about to decide on my future career.

I've used the word life-changing in the title because these two "jobs" will lead me to two different careers.

These jobs are actually specialities, where learning and working are combined for a few years (4). One of them is radiology and the other one is family medicine.

There's a very competitive test to get accepted and it's held on a yearly basis.

Luckily I've been offered the radiology job and nailed the family medicine test (hopefully I will pass this one too). But there's no guarantee at all that in future years I will pass them again, and honestly I think my chances will be lower since either option I'll take this year will lead me to sub-specialize in a field and focus on that field.

Both jobs have pros and cons in many aspects: Working life, social life, geographical location, money, many more long-term and short-term differences since one is an out-patient job and the other is in-patient mostly (meaning work inside or outside of the hospital).

I'm trying to find a way to decide semi-rationally: at the moment I'm listing all the pros and cons and weighting them on a -5/+5 scale. However I feel like, if I were to write down pros and cons it will have a significant bias in the final result.

What's the most rational way to decide which road to take?

closed as off-topic by IDrinkandIKnowThings, scaaahu, Chris E, Michael Grubey, mcknz Oct 8 '16 at 2:53

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – IDrinkandIKnowThings, scaaahu, Chris E, Michael Grubey, mcknz
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  • 5
    There is no unbiased way to evaluate a job offer. – rath Sep 27 '16 at 13:14
  • 6
    Having the bias is kinda the point, isn't it? – Masked Man Sep 27 '16 at 13:14
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    Whatever list you create right now - ten years in the future and having experienced the consequences of your decision - you would have valued at least half of the points on it entirely different. – Sebastian Proske Sep 27 '16 at 13:18
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    @KingBOB Make the pro-con list without points or values (each one is merely "pro" or "con", that's the only judgment to make initially). The best thing to do is to look at each pro/con clearly and simply so you can easily make a comparison that is sensible to you. It doesn't need to be mathematically sound (probably it cannot be). – Brandin Sep 27 '16 at 13:32
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    I've asked a question in Meta to try to get this reopened. – David K Sep 27 '16 at 14:43
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You have a good starting point. Kudos on writing pros and cons.

The next step would be to talk to someone more familiar with life development or someone who has a lot experience in working with Doctors. They will point out more parameters to look into your list. Including how you will advance in your job, work-life balance, job security, etc.

The step after that would be asking about all those parameters from at least two people in each field to get more insight as what you will be doing 5 or 10 years from now. Also, you may be imagining that something will be awesome in one field but you may find out that you were totally wrong! (You may think that Radiology will have a bright future, but one of those experts tell you that in 5 years robots will take over radiologists and all of them will be out of work!)


To Sum Up:

  • Write Pros/Cons
  • Consult with some one experienced and knowledgeable
  • Make a list of all important things and parameters,
  • Talk to other people in those fields,
  • Then make a table and assign scores for each parameter to each field based on the interviewee's opinions, Your Pro-Con List and your personal future goals.
  • Sum up the scores and you will have a better understanding of the situation.

P.S. You have done a great job so far and you don't want to look back and think about 'What If's in 5 years!


My personal Experience: Although its a little bit different but when I graduated from grad school, I had two job offers from two different types of companies who did software and with different compensation packages. I did the same thing. Talked to the university's career advisor and a senior engineer, they pointed out interesting aspects of career advancement, life-work balance and, salary and compensation. Then I talked to ex-employees of those companies and I based my decision on the outcome of that table (rather than my gut feeling) and after 6 years, to this day I have not regretted my decision (so far!)

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Going with rational evaluation normally doesn't work well for decisions like choosing career stream. Career decisions are very subjective to a person's interests and aptitude.

Make a career which you enjoy and cherish doing and which matches with you aptitude.

Taking decisions on other factors might look good for short duration, but in longer run, being happy with a job supersedes over all other parameters.

So I would suggest you to evaluate both the career options from those perspectives and decide accordingly. Good luck!

  • While there is a lot of subjectivity, I disagree career decisions are "purely subjective". For example, if you choose to specialize in research of ancient Egyptian papyrus, you know your employment opportunities will be more limited than as, say, a nurse or a software developer. – sleske Sep 28 '16 at 6:59
  • @sleske - Thanks for the point sleske. Yes you right when you say that there are other points to consider as well, but then career like being a software engineer or a archeologist require different attribute sets for example. And again the decision becomes subjective with how much weight-age one gives to things like monitory, creativity, fun, work life balance and many others while deciding for career path I think – Yogi Sep 28 '16 at 7:21
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Have you considered trusting your gut?

I faced a similar situation a few months back, when I had to choose between moving to a place I really want to live, but being uncertain about what job I would take, where I would live and so on, or staying where I live now to continue with my current job, but being miserable here.

Pro Move:

  • It's where I really want to be
  • Job opportunities there are far greater than job opportunities here
  • I already have loads of connections there

Pro Stay:

  • I already have an established place here
  • My current position is building experience that will be invaluable later on
  • Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don't

I spent weeks puzzling over this. Every time I'd have a terrible day, I'd be convinced I should just move now. Then I'd get a bit more motivated and convince myself to push through longer for the experience and ability to apply it later on.

Finally, I realized that I could create my own third option, which was tolerable for me now and excellent for me later: My position basically evaluates value on a semi-annual basis, meaning that if I stayed until the end of the year, I'd have far stronger credentials, and then I could move early next year. I'm now finishing up my time and planning on moving in January.

Your case is a bit different in that your decision is less reversible, but I'd like to remind you that your decision instinct is the result of billions of years of evolution, so it's got quite a lot more experience than you do. Do what you want to do, and it will almost invariably be the best possible decision. Keep in mind that if you go against your gut and realize years down the line that it wasn't the best decision, you'll regret it, but if you go with your gut, even if you aren't the biggest fan of your decision later, you'll accept it.

Finally, don't be afraid to make a third option. Your possibilities and opportunities are only limited by your creativity, everything else is secondary. It's what I did, and it's very hard to be disappointed with.

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To start Alex wrote a fantastic answer which is basically the first half of what I wanted to say. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues to get a better understanding of all of the factors involved. Once you have a good list of pros and cons, you need to be the one to assign values. Everyone has different priorities, and something that is important to you may not be for someone else. I would also make sure to mark points for "How much I enjoy this work". Again, completely subjective, but it's important to factor in whether you enjoy them equally, or whether you enjoy one more but the other has better career opportunities.

Finally, tally up all of your points and find out which one is the winner. Are you feeling disappointed in the result? If so, then you need to decide whether to throw out your scores or not. If the numbers were close enough that you don't mind sacrificing a couple points, then go with your gut. If one side was the clear winner and will obviously be better in the long run, but you feel only slightly disappointed, then go with the higher number.

If you're really disappointed, maybe there are things you can do to mitigate some negative scores. If the job you really like is going to disappear in 10 years, maybe you can still start there but take extra courses on the side now to prepare you for that. If the best hospital for your field of choice is far away from family, maybe you opt for the third-best hospital and stay closer to home. There's always something you can do to help ease the cons.

In the end the pros-cons list with all of the added points is really just a tool to make sure you have as much information as you can get. Once you have that, you can feel more confident in the decision you end up making. That may still mean throwing out all of the numbers and going with your gut, but at least you are now aware of the challenges you may face and can prepare for them.

  • I like this addition. I've had it happen that while writing out the pros and cons I've said, "screw this, I want option A!". At that point, the objective changes to how to make the most of option A (mitigating those cons). – Chris G Sep 28 '16 at 17:27
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Ultimately (as others have alluded to) no one can tell you what to do. This is YOUR decision to make, and yours alone. All I can do is hope to share my personal experiences and maybe some insight can be gleaned from my mistakes.

I am a deeply analytical person. As a result, whenever life gave me decisions like this, I would make detailed pro-con lists. I would even develop mathematical models (weighing attributes and ranking them) for decision making.

All of that led me to several unhappy career moves and relocations. Now, I'm not saying that the experience was totally terrible or I gained nothing, but I didn't find myself happy, which is ultimately the only metric in life I've learned that matters.

My best advice is to trust your instincts. Go for a long walk and picture yourself in five years after deciding to go down one path or another. Do you see yourself as happy, fulfilled, etc? Ultimately all the analytics in the world can't justify being miserable and having a hard time coming into the office day after day.

Good luck and stop overthinking it.

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More than -5/+5 quantitative scale you can try SWOT analysis This is more qualitative. In addition use your emotions. This is called emotional intelligence (a.k.a gut feeling). And go by the ultimate quote " If you don't mind , it doesn't matter" - Mark Twain.

  • The gut feeling depends on the person! My personal gut feelings are always wrong! – AleX_ Sep 27 '16 at 22:20

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