Making the Decision: Factors to Consider Before Studying Medicine

As an aspiring medical student, you would have heard people say that Medicine is a rewarding and fulfilling field. Though it is true, Medicine is a life-long commitment and a demanding career and hence, it is important to consider if Medicine is the right choice for you. In this article, I’ll guide you in making this decision. We will be looking at 3 main categories – Personal considerations, Practical considerations and Professional considerations.

Share This Post

Personal Considerations

Passion and Commitment to Medicine

As cliché as it sounds, passion and commitment to Medicine is the foundation in considering this career. The journey through medical school, foundation years, specialty training and beyond is a long and challenging one. It is important to consider if you are passionate in studying medicine and helping patients. Passion will fuel the drive to overcome obstacles you may face in your journey and commitment will ensure you remain dedicated despite the hardships. Medicine is a demanding career and without a genuine interest and enthusiasm, the rigors of training and medical practice can quickly lead to burnout and dissatisfaction.

Understanding Medicine as a Career

It is important to understand and recognise that Medicine offers a plethora of career opportunities beyond the traditional roles of physicians and surgeons. Completing a medical degree can open doors to various paths – including healthcare policy making, medical law, medical research, leadership positions in healthcare organisations, med tech and even more. If you have specific interests, you may be able to align your medical career to your interest, allowing for a more fulfilling professional life.

Long-term Goals and Impact

This is related to the previous factor on understanding the medical career as a whole. Once you have an idea of what the various paths are after doing a medical degree, think about your personal interests and long-term professional goals. What do you hope to achieve? What sort of impact do you hope to have on society? You can do your research and speak to doctors/ medical professionals for a better insight into whether you will be able to achieve your personal goals in the path you are considering. This will help in guiding your decision on whether to pursue Medicine.

Getting into Medical School (Pre-requisites)

As you may already know, medical school applications are often extensive and stressful. They include consideration of A level grades/ GPA, pre-medical tests like the BMAT/ UKCAT etc., medical school interviews, personal statements amongst others depending on the University you are applying to. Do start preparing early as the requirements differ across universities and it takes time to ensure you have personal statements that are of good quality and to prepare for pre-medical tests and interviews.

1. Grades: A Levels/GPA

Academic excellence is a critical prerequisite for admission into medical school. High grades in relevant subjects, such as biology, chemistry, and physics or mathematics are often required. It is important to check the University’s requirements in advance to ensure that you are eligible to apply.

2. Medical School Interviews

Interviews are a crucial part of the selection process, providing an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their communication skills, empathy, and suitability for a career in medicine. Preparing for these interviews involves understanding current medical issues, reflecting on your personal motivations, and being able to articulate your thoughts clearly and confidently.

3. Personal Statement

A well-crafted personal statement is another key element of the application process. This document should convey your passion for medicine, your relevant experiences, and personal qualities that make you a suitable candidate for the medical school you are applying to. It is an opportunity to stand out from other applicants by showcasing your unique journey and commitment to the field.

Want To Find The Right Medical School?

Fine Your Dream University By Taking Our Short Quiz!

Practical Considerations

Financial Considerations

The financial aspect of medical education is a significant consideration. From tuition fees, living expenses if you are studying overseas, medical textbooks, study resources like flashcards, subscriptions to question banks, equipment like stethoscope and scrubs to attending conferences (conference ticket fee, accommodation, travel expenses etc), costs can add up quickly. Many students may need to take out substantial loans to finance their education, leading to long-term financial commitments. It is important to consider these potential costs and discuss them with your family before deciding on pursuing medicine.

Reality of Earning as a Doctor

The potential earnings of a doctor might not be substantial especially in the early years of training. It is important to balance this against the cost of education and the time required to achieve financial stability. Junior doctors often go through years of training with relatively modest salaries compared to the hours worked and the responsibilities shouldered. Understanding the financial trajectory is crucial in managing your expectations and guiding your decision.

Work-life Balance

A career in medicine is known for its demanding nature. Long hours, continual learning, and high levels of stress are common. Achieving a work-life balance can be challenging, especially during the early years of medical training.

Impact on Personal and Social Life

The demanding nature of a medical career can impact your personal and social life in the long run. Missed family events, limited leisure time, coupled with high stress levels may cause a strain on your relationships and personal well-being. It is essential to consider whether you can manage these demands without compromising your personal happiness and health.

Ability to Maintain This Balance and Not Burning Out

If you want to pursue Medicine, you must be able to maintain a balance between work and personal life. Developing strategies for self-care, time management, and seeking support from your peers and mentors are crucial for sustaining a long and rewarding career in medicine without burning out.

Hands-on Clinical Exposure and Experience

Gaining hands-on clinical experience through shadowing doctors or volunteering in healthcare settings is invaluable. It provides a realistic insight into the daily responsibilities and challenges faced by medical professionals, helping you confirm your interest in and suitability for a medical career. As a pre-medical student, you may volunteer at health camps or contact your local GP practice or hospital for a shadowing experience.

Professional Considerations

Personal Values and Ethics

A successful career in medicine requires a strong alignment with your key personal values and ethics. Compassion, empathy, integrity, and respect for patient autonomy are fundamental principles that guide medical practice. These values ensure that patient care is conducted with the highest standards of professionalism and humanity. Take some time to reflect and ensure your values align with these principles.

Emotional Resilience

Emotional resilience is essential for coping with the realities of medical practice. Doctors often encounter patient suffering, loss, and failure, which can be emotionally taxing. The ability to make difficult decisions and have challenging conversations with patients and their families is crucial. Developing resilience will be beneficial for your mental well-being and improves your performance as a healthcare provider too.

Final Remarks

Pursuing a career in medicine requires a thorough consideration of multiple factors including your personal passion, commitment, financial implications, work-life balance, clinical exposure, and professional values. By evaluating these factors carefully, you can make informed decisions that align with your aspirations and capabilities and decide whether Medicine is the right choice for yourself.

Written By Sujashree Yadala Venkata, Medical student at the University of Glasgow

Get A FREE Consultation

Talk to one of our advisors for FREE

More To Explore

Articles

Study Dentistry in Bulgaria

Bulgaria has a lot to offer students of dentistry. From cheaper fees to lower entry requirements, the quality of education also makes it a strong choice.

Book Your Consultation Now!