Selecting Medical Specialty

Star Tribune LogoNancy Giguere,  Star Tribune Sales and Marketing

We’ve all stood before a box of chocolates wondering whether to choose the vanilla cream or the nut crunch. Doctors and nurses face a similar choice when deciding on a specialty because each one has its own distinct flavor and unique rewards.

A Little Bit of Everything

Dr. Kenneth Crabb, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Advanced Specialty Care for Women in St. Paul, chose his specialty, in part, because he liked the idea of seeing the same patients over a long period of time like an “old-fashioned doctor.”

As an ob/gyn, Crabb gets “to do a little bit of everything.” That includes providing primary and specialty care to patients as well as delivering babies. He also performs surgery and has a special interest in abnormal pap smears, pelvic pain and abnormal bleeding. “Except for family practice in a rural setting, no other specialty offers as much variety,” he says.

A “Family Friendly” Specialty

Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield, III, an Eagan dermatologist in solo practice, was raised by parents who were both doctors. He remembers how often his father, an ob/gyn, was called to a delivery in the wee hours of the morning. He chose dermatology, in part, because it’s a more “family friendly” specialty with a less rigorous call schedule.

He likes the fact that dermatologists – unlike emergency room physicians – do not work under extreme pressure. He also chose dermatology for its variety: he treats patients of both sexes and all ages, as well as practicing surgery and doing pathology. In addition, dermatology is a visual field, which Crutchfield also likes. “The problem is right in front of me where I can see it,” he says. “There’s usually no need for a lot of fancy tests.”

An Intellectual Challenge

Gaida Quinn, an in-patient psychiatric nurse at Hennepin County Medical Center, has also worked in neurology and geriatrics. Although she enjoyed working in these areas, she says her current job is one of the most intellectually challenging and creative she has had.

Psychiatric nurses focus on the whole person, which Quinn prefers to monitoring vital signs or measuring cardiac output. Helping people with brain disorders who can’t articulate – or don’t know – what they need can be a formidable task. “I watch for behavioral changes and try to figure out where the tension, anxiety, or disharmony is coming from. You have to do a lot of thinking,” Quinn says.

Sharing a Vulnerable Time

Denice Hinrichs, a nurse clinician at the Mercy & Unity Obesity Intervention Program in Fridley, believes that she has found “the most rewarding career in nursing.”

Her patients are morbidly obese, at least 100 pounds over their ideal weight. She works with them as they prepare for, undergo and recover from stomach bypass surgery. For most patients, the results are dramatic: their health improves and their lives change for the better. “I’m so blessed to be here,” Hinrichs says. “It’s a privilege to share this vulnerable time with them and know that we are truly helping to change lives.”

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