The Undifferentiated Medical Student

The Undifferentiated Medical Student (TUMS) podcast is about helping medical students to choose a medical specialty and plan a career in medicine. The list of career options available to medical students is long, but the time to explore them all is short. Moreover, mentorship in medical school is lacking, and many medical students tackle the task of career planning alone, most struggling and almost all clutching to the hope that 3rd year clinical rotations will definitively resolve their remaining uncertainties about how they want to specialize. However, having been distracted by the relentless pace of their pre-clinical curricula and the specter of Step 1, 3rd year medical students are eventually confronted with the reality that there are simply too many specialties to explore in one year and that they may not even get to finish their clinical rotations before important decisions about their careers need to be made (e.g., the planning of acting internships) if they are to be competitive applicants. Thus, mentorless and clinically unexposed, many medical students are forced to make wholly uninformed decisions about their futures. By interviewing at least one physician from each of the 120+ specialties listed on the AAMC's Careers in Medicine website 1) about their specialty, 2) how they decided this specialty was right for them, and 3) for advice about long-term career planning irrespective of the specialty they went into, this podcast aims to enumerate the details of every specialty and provide virtual mentorship on how best to go about moving past being an undifferentiated medical student.
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The Undifferentiated Medical Student



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Nov 18, 2016

Dr. Steele is the Chairman of Colorectal Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic (although at the time of recording this interview, he was the Division Chief of Colon & Rectal Surgery at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center) and Professor of Surgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, OH.

Dr. Steele completed his undergraduate degree at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1994; completed his medical degree at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine in 1998; completed a general surgery residency at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington in 2003; then completed a colon and rectal surgery fellowship in 2005. Following completion of his fellowship, Dr. Steele became the Chief of Colorectal Surgery at Madigan Army Medical Center through until 2015, a decade of service which saw him deployed as a staff surgeon to Iraq and Afghanistan four times and for which he received the Bronze Star among many other military awards. Then in late 2016, after a short tenure at UH Cleveland Medical Center, Dr. Steele accepted the position of Chairman of Colorectal Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic where he remains today. Of note, Dr. Steele is currently working toward his Executive MBA at Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management, which is right down the street from the hospital.

Dr. Steele is actively involved in the colorectal community. He serves on several editorial boards including that of the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, and is also the American College of Surgeons’ web porter for the colorectal community. His literary contributions include over 200 articles, reviews, chapters, and Clinical Practice Guidelines, as well as five complete Colorectal Surgery textbooks.

Lastly, Dr. Steele is also the co-founder of the podcast, Behind the Knife (at which discusses topics related to all things surgery and which boasts 20,000 downloads each month.


Part 1 - About the specialty [7:23]

Part 2 - How the specialty was the right choice [33:14]

Part 3 - Long-term career planning [53:57]