The path to an MD is a long and difficult journey. And once you receive your medical degree, the hard work is far from over. Many high school and college students express interest in the medical field, but often their reasons aren’t sound. If you’re thinking about becoming a physician, consider the following factors before making your decision.
Strong Interest in Medicine
If you aren’t passionate about medicine, it won’t be easy to make it through your courses in medical school. Not to mention internships, residencies, and the rest of your career. Medicine often draws attention from ambitious students due to the prestige of being a doctor and the higher salaries of certain specialties, but these alone are not good reasons to enter the field.
As a doctor, you’ll often be working with people in vulnerable, scary and painful situations. Could you deal with patients compassionately, even under high stress? A good bedside manner is an important part of being a physician, so carefully consider whether or not you’ll be able to demonstrate compassion to all patients and their families.
Emotional stability is a crucial trait for medical doctors. Physicians work in high pressure situations, making life and death decisions on a daily basis. They have to deal with constant demands from patients, patients’ families, nurses, paraprofessionals, and administrators. You’ll also have to deliver bad news to patients and their families, which requires a level head. If you aren’t able to balance compassion with emotional strength, you’ll likely be unhappy in your career as a physician.
Willingness to Sacrifice
Medical school and a career as a physician will require significant sacrifice of your personal time and energy. You have to be fully committed in order to achieve success and career satisfaction. Depending on your specialty, you may need to respond to emergencies at a moment’s notice, and to work on holidays and weekends. You’ll often be operating on little sleep, while still having to make crucial decisions.
Not everyone is meant to pursue a career in medicine. It is a field that requires a very high degree of commitment and sacrifice. You may be encouraged to attend medical school if you’re a good student, but it’s not all about academic ability. An average student with the characteristics listed above is more likely to experience career satisfaction and success in medicine than an above average student without them. Still not sure if medicine is the right choice? Read Med School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Medical School Experience: By Students, for Students