Is Medical School (and a Medical Career) Right for you?

Posted On 17.06.2015 | Parents FAQ

“Why do you want to be a doctor?” This is probably the most commonly-asked question at medical school interviews, and a question we ask all of our students who are considering the career. However, before trying to convince interviewers with an articulate, passionate, and genuine answer, it is most important that you are able to convince yourself. 

Studying for a medical degree is by no means trivial, and the path of continuing professional education in medicine is an arduous one. It is imperative that you have a realistic understanding of what a full-time medical career entails, something which reruns of House and Grey’s Anatomy will not quite give you. If you want to study medicine because your parents are doctors, because the profession is well-paid, or just because you think it will make good use of your scientific aptitude, then you might want to reconsider your motivations.
 
Consider the following ways which will allow you to decide wither medical school is right for you:
  1. Work experience – There is no substitute for first-hand exposure, and securing work experience will allow you to apply with your eyes wide open. Medicine is not limited to applying scientific knowledge – at the centre of the discipline are people. There are many opportunities to work with the public in a relevant health or care setting, ranging from hospital attachments to volunteer work in an elderly home, so be proactive in trying to organize them. Ensure that you make the most of these experiences - be inquisitive, contribute to discussions, offer your opinions where appropriate, and carry out what is asked of you to the best of your ability. Throughout your work experience, keeping reflection log can be a good way to learn more about your own personal qualities, and whether you can cope with the rigorous demands of healthcare.
  2. Books/TV Shows – Be careful! Media can over-glamourize the medical profession, but there are definitely some resources which will paint more accurate pictures. Max Pemberton’s Trust Me, I’m a Junior Doctor is a good place to start, while BBC Three’s Junior Doctors offers an exciting, yet harrowing televised account of life on the NHS wards.
  3. Talking to others – Having a family member or friend who works in a hospital, as a doctor or otherwise, provides a great source of information. Don’t be afraid to grill them! Ask them what they think are the traits of a good doctor, about their work patterns and lifestyle outside their career, and if they have any regrets – would they apply for medicine again? Asking questions is the best way to learn from others. Try to get viewpoints from more than one person if you can, as experiences are subjective. In the end, it should always be your personal decision, as the applicant, whether medicine is right for you - make sure that it is a decision which is well-informed.