I honestly think that this is the question I spent
the most time thinking (and over-thinking) when applying to Medicine. When
thinking about whether Medicine is right for you, it is so important to
be fully equipped with information about the application process; what the
degree entails and most importantly what you’re getting yourself into when you *finally*
Slight disclaimer alert: I am in my fourth
year, so this is very much based on personal experience and not formal
guidance! I hope that this will be helpful in helping you to decide whether
Medicine is right for you!
Whilst it is, of course, possible to overcome these
factors, I think that to enjoy a career in Medicine, these factors are
often considered deal-breakers and are worth mentioning first.
1. You hate learning
It’s so cliché to say, but Medicine is definitely a
career which relies upon ‘lifelong learning’ and this is something I have
witnessed already. A patient came into the clinic once, armed with news
articles and research about a specific procedure. I was in awe to see the
doctor calmly explain and discuss with the patient the EXACT trial they were
referring to. Later, when we asked the doctor about it, he said that it was
critical that you remain up to date with emerging research, papers, and trials
and ultimately this is OUR responsibility. Whilst this does sound daunting, I
think and hope that engaging with research will become easier when we become
more familiar with it. Especially when we have found a speciality or niche
within Medicine that excites us!
2. Working with people
There are some specialities that have limited
patient contact. But, communication - be it with
families, colleagues or patients - is one of the greatest
requirements of Medicine. Enjoying - or at least being comfortable
- working within a team, and communicating with people from all walks of
life is non-negotiable.
I will state the obvious here. This process will
take time! The application process is long and demanding and can feel
all-consuming at times. I remember when my friends and I were applying to
university. Despite sending our applications off together, my friends heard
back within a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I felt as though I was waiting for
Similarly, every time I come home for Summer break
or Christmas, friends and family ask, “how long have you got left now until you
graduate?” When I say “two more years to go,” they sigh in despair on my
behalf. Ever the optimist, I’m told that these years are some of the best of
our lives. So, I think we’re lucky that we get to spend six years in
university. We're able to postpone the worries of the ‘real world’ for longer
than most of our friends. This is a bonus in my eyes!
Yes, some friends will have graduated,
bought a house, and got married before we’ve started our first
job. Yet, it is important to remember that it is a timely process for a reason.
With commitment and motivation, it will be time well spent (I hope!)
Although it is well known that doctors are
'paid well,' especially further into specialist training and consultancy, the
main rewards for doctors come from seeing the difference that they have made to
patients’ lives. Many would say that there are easier ways to make money fast.
So, if making money is your primary goal then I think it is worth
reconsidering if Medicine is really the best route for you.
The average medical student in the UK will be
paying £9,000 per year for tuition fees. So, they will have accumulated over
£70,000 of debt by the time that they graduate. This debt is repaid throughout
their working life, so maybe a factor worth considering?
Enough of realism; now for reasons why you should
consider a career in Medicine:
I think this is difficult to write a finite list
and obviously each candidate will have their own reasons for why a career in
Medicine appeals to them. I think it is important to give this some thought
though because it is almost a guaranteed question in any medical school
I would avoid the phrase ‘because I want to help
people’ because this applies to SO many different careers. Nurses, Paramedics,
Physiotherapists, Health Care Assistants; to name a few! And I haven't even
mentioned the careers out of the healthcare sector.
So, it is necessary to really think
about what it is about being a doctor that appeals to you.
problem-solving skills to tailor the treatment to the patient and applying knowledge to best help the patient. I think it is important to recognise the privilege that doctors and medical students have: you are a part of your patient’s life when they are most vulnerable. They put their ultimate trust in you, which is an incredible honour.
an inquisitive mind and enjoy being intellectually challenged and stimulated.
think the final draw to Medicine is the vast variety of opportunities. You could get involved with research, medical education,
travel, and there is an endless list of specialities! So it is almost a
guarantee you’ll find something you love.
were the main aspects of Medicine which I have found appealing. Yours may be
different. It is hard to completely understand the benefits of studying
Medicine during the pre-application process. So, you must branch out: get in
touch with medical students, junior doctors, consultants. Explore Medicine: so
that you know that when you put in all those hours, in the end, it will
definitely be worth it.
Let me know what aspects of Medicine appeal to you,
or if you have any queries/concerns!
Image 1: own image
About the Author:
Hello! I’m Hattie, a fourth-year medical student
(how many times have I heard that one!) and am really interested in medical
education and widening participation in medicine. Hoping if this doesn’t work
out, I’ll be scouted to play netball in the World Cup. Got to have a back-up