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Looking to the stars for career guidance?

By Mindo - 25th Jan 2021

New research has examined what your star sign says about your choice of medical career

Did your specialty choose you or did you choose your specialty? A recent paper in the Postgraduate Medical Journal (PMJ) addressed this question, but with an astrological twist.

Thought to have been established 2,400 years ago in Babylon, horoscopes in some form have been a constant feature across many cultures and religions since. Despite this, there have been no scientific studies supporting any of the astrological theories and thus it is considered a pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience notwithstanding, in clinical medicine, different zodiac signs have been linked to different specialties. High pressured procedural-based specialties including surgery and cardiology have been linked to ‘fire’ signs such as Leo, while careers focused on discussion and contemplation, such as psychiatry and neurology, have been linked to ‘air’ signs such as Gemini and Aquarius.

One study examined personality-related factors that motivated individuals to seek a career in medicine and choose a specialty. It found that an ‘investigative’ personality would likely choose internal medicine or pathology, those with a ‘commanding’ personality appeared to prefer surgery, while the ‘rescuers’ chose emergency medicine. The ‘dependable’ sought paediatrics while the ‘compassionate’ chose psychiatry.

Traditionally, selecting a career is thought to be dependent on a number of factors, including previous clinical exposure, role models, work/life balance and perceived suitability of one’s personality characteristics to a certain career. All well and good. But the authors of the PMJ research went a step further and set out to establish if the described personality traits set out for each zodiac sign reflected career choice.

In other words they asked the question: Did you choose your specialty or did your specialty choose you?

The online platform Google Forms hosted the survey, which was distributed via email to UK hospital postgraduate centres and posted on social media. Completion of the survey was voluntary without any form of remuneration for participating. The survey was open for a total of six weeks. All qualified physicians in the UK were eligible for inclusion. Some 1,958 medics responded.

The headline results were interesting. Notably, a higher proportion of cardiologists were Leo compared with Aries (14.4 per cent vs 3.9 per cent), and obstetricians and gynaecologists were more likely to be Pisces than Sagittarius (17.5 per cent vs 0 per cent).

Furthermore, rheumatologists were more likely to be Sagittarius than Scorpio or Pisces (16.4 per cent vs 0 per cent), and care of the elderly physicians was more likely Gemini than Cancer (16.1 per cent vs 2.3 per cent). What about GPs? They were more likely to be Pisces than Leo, although the result was not statistically significant.

Trends exist between zodiac signs and some specialties – however larger numbers per zodiac and specialty group would be required to prove significance

Interestingly, 5 per cent of respondents reported that if they could not practice their current specialty, they would not want to do anything else. Notable answers for a second career choice included disc jockey, artist, McDonald’s worker, househusband, horticulturist, marine biologist, cocktail drinker, cabinet maker, internet millionaire, yoga teacher, mountain climber, and bookshop owner!

According to the authors, previous studies have investigated links between personality-type and medical careers: Surgeons tend to exhibit high levels of ‘impulsive sensation seeking’ behaviour, and alongside other procedural-based medical specialties, such as cardiology, are more commonly extroverted. Those leaning towards introversion are more likely to choose primary care.

The latest research found that less acute, more outpatient-based specialties including rheumatology, psychiatry and oncology had the highest levels of introversion.

Across zodiac signs, the study found significant differences between how well physicians felt their personality suited their career, with 90 per cent of Taurus agreeing but only 82.5 per cent of Leos.

“It could be argued that this finding reflects the typical personality traits associated with the respective star signs; the persistent determined nature of Taurus may demand well-matched specialty-specific qualities, while the intolerant Leo may experience discontent with their specialty choice,” the authors suggest.

Tongue in cheek the authors note they “are reluctant to suggest that any particular specialities are less intellectual, especially given all authors were born between June and August”!

In conclusion, they say their research into zodiac signs and medical specialties found links between specialties and personality types which corroborate previous research.

Trends exist between zodiac signs and some specialties – however larger numbers per zodiac and specialty group would be required to prove significance. Those of us with a strong belief in science and a healthy suspicion of astrology will be glad of their final comment: “Ultimately, it appears the zodiac sign’s impact on career decision remains a ‘pseudoscience’, for now at least.”

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