Career paths are tricky. When we are young, it feels like we are being pulled from a million different directions. There’s the expectation of your parents, the unsolicited advice from the extended family, and sometimes we forget the very subtle whisper. What do I mean by the whisper? I heard this ever since I was young. It is that voice that makes you want to do something that to others may not make sense but to you, it intuitively does. I can’t even find words to articulate this whisper, but I guess it’s a result of being in tune with one’s soul.
That is so far, the best description that I could construct about my reason as to why I chose medicine, and why I’ll keep choosing it even if it can be excruciatingly hard. One major purpose behind this blog is, as a kid, I needed a person who could have guided and told me about the medical world. In my brain, I knew that it was hard, but what I didn’t know was the depth of sacrifices and the waves of uncertainties that comes along with learning how to save someone’s life. So please allow me to be your guru for a few minutes, if you’re contemplating about becoming a medical student. Here are questions that you must take time to ponder on.
1. Do you love learning?
You’ll be reading tons of books. Your college books are nothing compared to medical books. You must have a genuine love and thirst for learning if you want to become a doctor. Education isn’t even over when you graduate medschool my dear. You will still learn new information since science and medicine are rapidly evolving disciplines. If you are the type of person who devours learning, then you’ll have the stamina to digest extremely technical scientific information. Being a bookworm and science nerd is a good indicator that you will last in this game.
2. Do you love helping people?
Helping is the nature of the job. Your goal is to ease people from sufferring. If you are on the more selfish spectrum, this career might not become fulfilling for you. If your motivation is money, don’t go to medschool, there are tons of easier ways to do that. Remember that you will be handling patients from all walks of life and your sworn duty is to help them inspite of whoever they are, so you should have a sense of altruism. It doesn’t matter if your patient is a philantrophist or a criminal. If a human needs medical attention, you must help. It must be innate in your heart so that treating patients will be in line with your personality. Plus, patients will feel it if you are genuine.
3. Are you willing to compromise?
You will see your friends moving forward in their careers and travelling but you will be stuck with your books for the next five years of your life. Time with family, friends, and your partner will be significantly reduced. If deep within your heart, you have this knowing that the sacrifices will be all worth it, then that’s great. It means that you can withstand the long years of studying. But let me tell you in advance that, there are many birthdays that you can’t come to, weddings or anniversaries that you can’t attend, and concerts that you won’t be able to watch. Financial freedom will be put on the side. Date nights will get cancelled. Know what you are getting yourself into.
4. Are you willing to fail?
Getting in medical school is a caveat by itself. You will get accepted because you’re a diamond in the rough. The admission committee saw that you can survive and thrive even in adverse situations. They know that you are smart and resilient enough for this path. However, you cannot be a jack of all trades. Unless you’re one of the select few geniuses who won the IQ genetic lottery, you will most probably fail exams. Plus, life’s challenges won’t stop just because you’re a medical student. Your parents might get sick, sometimes there will be death in the family, your mental and physical health might plummet, or financial meltdowns might occur. You have to remember in these moments that, no matter how many times you stumble, you will definitely rise. If you are okay with setbacks and failures, and if you have a fast move-on rate, then this path could really be for you.
5. Can you imagine doing anything else?
Envision yourself ten years from now. Will you be okay with not becoming a medical doctor? Can you see a career path that resonates more with your soul? If you can, then try that first. I did that because I wasn’t that sure when I was younger. However, I was faced with a fork in the road. I couldn’t unhear the whisper. I can’t imagine living a life of what-ifs ten years from when I was 23. If you can’t think of a reason as to why you must not study medicine, well, at least give it a try then. Go for it, if you can’t imagine doing anything else. And if you end up not liking this path, well at least you gave it a shot. You chose to be brave and that’s something to be proud of.
Again, I would love to hear your thoughts on this whether you’re a premed, med student, or a practicing medical doctor. Let us help each other out so that there will be more doctors who are in it because they consciously chose this path.