As a doctor there are multiple career pathways open to you through specialities, ranging from general practice to anaesthesia. Choosing your medical speciality is an important but dauting decision, with a wide range of factors influencing your choice. From assessing the skills your already possess to the areas that capture your interest, there are numerous different areas to consider. If you’re unsure, the first step is to take a look at the specialities that are open to you.

The British Medical Association lists 15 specialities that are embedded within the NHS:

Academic medicine – For doctors that have a stoning interest in research, academic medicine can be incredibly rewarding. As well as undertaking research, you’ll also typically be responsible for providing patient care, teaching students, and working to create a collaborative, inquiry culture.

Anaesthesia – Anaesthetists should be able to provide services relating to pain management and resuscitation problems, as well as administering anaesthetic. It gives a choice to specialise in a particular area too, such as intensive care or obstetric anaesthesia.

Emergency medicine – Doctors specialising in emergency medicine can expect a fast-paced work environment and huge variety in the people they see. From treating people with minor illnesses through to major trauma, you’ll be responsible for handling new cases as they arrive at hospital.

General medicine specialities – There are more than 30 specialities that fall under general medicine, giving you plenty of choice. It covers from prevention right through to managing disease. Among the specialities are neurology, cardiology, and topical medicine.

General practice – GPs are the first place that many patients turn to when they have a health concern. As a result, if you were to specialise in general practice, you’re likely to work with and see a wide range of people face-to-face, it’s an excellent option for doctors that enjoy patient interaction.

Obstetrics and gynaecology – Within this speciality concerned with the healthcare of women, there are several other disciplines to choose from. Typically, trainees choose to train as generalists before undertaking further training in a particular area.

Occupational medicine – Occupational medicine practitioners work within organisations to improve the overall health and wellbeing of a workforce and reduce potential risks.

Ophthalmology – Focussed on the preservation of sight, ophthalmology blends medicine and surgery. Usually, you’ll be responsible for diagnosis, treatment, and on-going assessment of the patients that are registered to you.

Paediatrics and child health – As general physicians that work with children from birth to adulthood, paediatricians need to be able to communicate well with both young children and their parents. Much of you time would be spend on preventive medicine and assessing development, growth and future potential for children.

Pathology – Pathology encompasses several specialities the link basic science with clinical medicine to study disease and their manifestation. There are three core specialities within pathology – chemical pathology, histopathology, and medical microbiology and virology – as well as other smaller disciplines.

Psychiatry – This speciality focuses on mental illnesses, behavioural disorders, and emotional disorders in both adults and children. There’s plenty of scope when it comes to work location within psychiatry, from hospitals to patient homes to meet demand where it’s needed.

Public health medicine – Public health medicine is concerned with the prevention of infectious and non-infectious diseases within the population to improve overall. Generally public health teams are made up of professionals from across multi-disciplines.

Radiology – oncology – Divided into two specialities both radiology and oncology are essential medical areas. While radiology focuses on the study of images to make or confirm a diagnosis, oncology is the non-surgical management of malignant disease. Within both areas you’ll need to work with patients and have a broad understanding of medicine.

Sports and exercise medicine – If you want to combine medicine with sports and exercise, this could be the speciality for you. It can include a wide range of areas from the prevention of sports injuries to the nutrition needs to maintain peak performance.

Surgical specialities – Surgery specialities require a balance between intellect and physical interaction. Through this choice you can play a key role throughout the journey of a patient, from diagnosis through to treatment. There are nine specialities that fall under surgery, giving trainees plenty of scope.

One of the most common debate in the medical sector in the UK revolves around abortion. It’s an emotive topic and both sides of the argument are passionate about their stance. So, as a professional which side of the fence do you fall and does it impact on the care you deliver?

Abortion has been legal on a wide range of ground in England, Wales, and Scotland since the Abortion Act 1967 and it one of the most liberal abortion laws in Europe. Most abortions in these countries are carried out before 24 weeks of pregnancy, although they can be carried out after this point in certain circumstances, for example if the mother’s life is at risk or the child would be born with a severe disability. However, in Northern Ireland the situation is different and performing an abortion in the country is an offence except in specific cases. The abortion debate isn’t new or restricted to the UK – it’s one that’s occurring across the world.

The argument for legal abortion

One of the core arguments to legal abortion is the woman’s right to choose what happens to her body and to have control over her choices. Many argue that it’s a fundamental right that a pregnant woman is free to choose whether to proceed with the pregnancy or choose an abortion.

From a medical point of view, is the perception that personhood only starts when a foetus is viable outside of the womb, rather than at conception. Babies born before the 24-week cut off time for an abortion can occasionally survive with specialist care but the odds of survival are much lower – for this reason some people that advocate for legal abortion would like to see the timeframe reduced. Supporting when a foetus become a person is research from the Royal College of Obstetricians, which found that foetuses are incapable of feeling pain at the time that most abortions are performed.

Another argument in favour is build on the understanding that some women will still seek to have an abortion even if it’s illegal. Access to legal, professional abortions that are carried out by professionals reduces the risk of maternal death and injury.

The argument against legal abortion

The key argument against abortion is that life begins at conception – making abortion murder. It’s a view that many people take and part of what makes the debate so strong. The argument of when a foetus is considered a person is important to both sides of the debate and fundamental to where you stand.

Among the other core reasons related to why people are against abortion include religious and faith reasons, and the potential for the experience to cause psychological damage to the mother. With medical advancements, it’s also possible for mothers to choose to abort based on medical reasons. Those against abortion note that it could lead to over discrimination, where babies that would be born with genetic abnormalities could be aborted.

It’s a debate that everyone, whether they work in the medical profession or not, has an opinion on. So, which side of the argument do you back and why?

Experts have argued that it is unnecessary to finish the entire course of antibiotics despite official guidance from the NHS stating it is essential the entirety of the course is finished in order for the treatment to be successful.

An opinion piece from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) argues that there is simply not enough evidence to support the idea that failing to complete a course of antibiotics contributes to the issue of antibiotic resistance.

The piece also goes on to state that it may in fact be advisable for people to stop taking the antibiotics when they feel better, instead of completing the course, as it is believed unnecessary exposure to antibiotics could make resistance even worse. This is because patients are essentially exposing more bacteria to the antibiotics the longer they take them.

The lead author of the opinion piece, Professor Martin Llewelyn, stated: “Historically, antibiotic courses were set by precedent, driven by fear of under-treatment, with less concern about overuse […] Completing the course goes against one of the most fundamental and widespread medication beliefs people have, which is that we should take as little medication as necessary.”

However, the piece does go on to highlight that there are some exceptions. It states that for some diseases, completing the entire course of antibiotics is of paramount importance, as without doing so it could lead to life-threatening conditions.

There is still not enough research to warrant disrupting the current prescribing practices in place, and so the BMJ opinion piece suggests that it would be more pertinent for doctors to advise to ‘stop when you feel better’ as opposed to being advised to complete the entire course.

Kieran Hand, spokesman for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “This opinion article from respected NHS infection experts is a welcome opening of the debate in the UK on the relationship between the length of a course of antibiotics, efficacy and resistance.

“As researchers have pointed out, further research is needed before the ‘Finish the course’ mantra for antibiotics is changed and any alternative message, such as, ‘Stop when you feel better,’ can be confidently advocated.

“The ideal future scenario would be that the right length of treatment for a specific infection for patients is identified from clinical trials and the exact quantity prescribed and dispensed.”

Official NHS guidelines and Public Health England still state that patients should continue to complete the full antibiotic course as prescribed. Which opinion do you agree with – Should patients continue taking antibiotic even after they feel better?

Organ transplants can be crucial when it comes to saving a person’s life. An organ donation can often mean the start of a new beginning for patients suffering from the likes of heart disease, kidney failure and even some forms of cancer.

However, there is some debate over the fairness of organ donation and whether or not people who suffer from conditions that are considered to be due to lifestyle choices, such as smoking or alcohol abuse, should be given organ transplants.

NHS resources are already under a lot of pressure, and with so many patients currently waiting for organ transplants, should organ transplants always be given to the next person on the list, even if their illness could be considered self-inflicted? We look at the arguments for and against.

Arguments against treating the next person on the list

As the NHS healthcare system is currently very strained, it could lead to the argument that only those who are considered to be ‘deserving’ should ultimately be granted a transplant. There is also the issue of whether, if an alcoholic, for example, were granted a transplant, they would be able to upkeep the on-going lifestyle changes required so as not to damage the new organ they have been given.

Arguments for treating the next person on the list

On the other side of the argument, those in favour of treating the next person on the list would state that receiving an organ transplant for a potentially life-threatening condition is a basic human right. As well as this, the NHS is an equal healthcare system and so medical professionals within it have a duty of care to all their patients.

There is also the issue of deciding where to draw the line – how do you pick and choose which patients should be refused organ transplants? If they are a recovering alcoholic, or someone who quit smoking 10 years ago, should they still be refused? Ultimately, lifestyle choices do have an effect on everyone’s health, so would refusing treatment or being pushed further down the transplant waiting list lead to those who have a bad diet or do not exercise being refused treatment too?