Choosing to go to medical school is a BIG decision and one that should not be taken lightly. The road to becoming a doctor is incredibly long and challenging. Your decision to pursue this route should be well-informed and made after deep self-reflection and exploration. Doing so will ensure that your journey to becoming a doctor is fulfilling and the right decision for you!
In this post, I will share some important questions you should ask yourself to figure out if medical school is right for you!
Questions to ask yourself
Really take the time to reflect on these questions.
Answer them honestly and thoughtfully.
1. Why do you want to go to medical school?
Figuring out your why is the first step, and it is the most important one. Your purpose for pursuing medicine needs to be genuine. It also needs to be well-informed. Make sure you talk to people in the field (medical students, residents, doctors). Shadow some doctors to learn more about what they do. Make sure that your reasons for pursuing medicine are your own. It shouldn’t be because your parents want you to or because your parents are doctors. By identifying why you are motivated to become a physician, you will be able to make sure that this is the right path for you and it will give you something to turn to when times get tough.
2. How do you hope to impact the field of medicine?
This is another important topic to consider. Do you want to change healthcare through research? Do you want to be involved in your community? How do you want to impact patients? Do you want to be a surgeon?
There are many ways to make a HUGE impact on patients without being a doctor. Other essential providers in the health care team include nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists, etc.
Are you interested in spending a significant portion of your career diagnosing and treating patients? Are you interested in completing research to improve patient care? In delivering babies? In doing surgery? If so, then medical school may be the right path for you. However, you are happy to play other important and supportive roles in patients’ care, then there are many career options you can choose that aren’t as demanding as being a doctor!
3. Are there other career paths that will allow you to make an impact you desire?
If you are considering medical school, I highly urge you to learn about the other paths. Medicine is a multi-disciplinary field and it is important to know how all the other staff members function as part of the patient care team. Do your due diligence and learn about these other options (NP, PA, RN, anesthesia techs, etc.). For instance, if you’re interested in anesthesia, you can practice anesthesiology by becoming an anesthesia tech (also known as a CRNA). They can do almost all the main things an anesthesiologist does (intubate patients, do small procedures, monitor patients in the OR). Their schooling is much less intensive and they have less debt after training!
Career exploration is also an important part of your personal growth. It may help you strengthen your desire to pursue medicine, as it did for me. Or, you may realize that you are actually better suited to do something else!
4. How much are you willing to sacrifice?
Compared to other fields in healthcare, the schooling and demands of becoming a doctor are the most challenging. Following college, you have to complete 4 years of medical school, then 4-8 years of residency in order to become a practicing physician. Those years of schooling are extremely demanding and you will have to sacrifice a lot along the way. You have to spend a lot of time studying, taking exams, and caring for patients. While challenging, this experience can also be extremely rewarding.
Before choosing to become a doctor, decide if this sacrifice during your 20’s-30’s, is worth it! For some, it is absolutely is! For others, they would be just as happy doing something else.
The decision to pursue medicine should not be taken lightly. It should be well-informed and made after deep self-reflection and exploration. This will ensure that your journey to becoming a doctor is fulfilling and the right decision for you! As a fourth-year medical student, I can tell you that I’m extremely happy to have chosen this path. While it has been full of challenges and sacrifices, it has been very rewarding! Whatever it may ben, I hope you find the path that suits you the best!
Good luck! Leave me any questions or comments below!