Every premedical student should ask themselves and seriously consider one question, “Why do I want to be a doctor?”
Not only should this question be of personal importance, it is also likely to be a topic discussed in your medical school interview. Also, your motivation for becoming a doctor should definitely be a topic you include in your personal statement.
Since the days of Hippocrates, physicians have held a special place in society. It takes a different mind to consider all that cannot be seen in an effort to heal – one of both intellect and persistence. As the practice of medicine has evolved over centuries, so has the nature of medical education.
From the beginning of college to the completion of residency, aspiring physicians can expect to spend at least ten to twelve years becoming a physician in the United States. Aside from the financial hardship, students that seek to become a doctor for the wrong reasons may be missing out on time progressing in a career for which they are better suited.
Of course, physicians are revered more than those of any other profession by the shear time and dedication required simply to begin their career. While completing medical school and residency, doctors sacrifice time, relationships, and energy in a hope to one day to serve others. However, the social status of being a physician is a terrible reason to become one.
Why is status a terrible motive? First, medical school admissions personnel are very astute. The goal of admissions committee members is to recruit and identify the best group of selfless individuals that are suitable to become physicians. Their duties include weeding out those unsuitable for the profession, which includes selfishly motivated applicants. If you happen to fool the committee, consider whether or not you’ll succeed in a world that cherishes selfless service.
Your Parents’ Dream
Some premedical students are encouraged by their parents to pursue a career in medicine for different reasons. It may be because your family boasts a long lineage of doctors dating back to the civil war. Your parents may encourage you to go to medical school as a result of their own feelings of inadequacy or unhappiness with their own career.
Sure, there may be cultural norms that create huge barriers to your choice in the matter. Whatever the reason may be, going to medical school for reasons other than your own will likely not lead to success. In contrast, according to an article by U.S. News, this is one of the top causes that leads to medical students dropping out of medical school.
Now, more than ever, medical school admission is increasingly competitive. The quality of an applicant is no longer determined solely on academic standards and intellect. If you want to go to medical school to please your parents, please reconsider your goals.
Honestly, medical school is not the ticket to financial freedom. Sure, some radiation oncologists may earn seven figures or more. Most medical doctors earn an above-average income, but it’s definitely not enough to be considered rich.
In reality, if a high income is your hopes, you would probably be better off pursuing a career as a venture capitalist or investment banker. Again, it will take you anywhere from 10 to 12 years before you are able to practice medicine under your own license. People that are more interested in wealth could invest those 12 years in a career that’s suited for financial gain.
In addition to losing time, you’ll likely acquire tons of debt while attending medical school. The average medical school student graduates with nearly $200,000 in debt over the course of four years. Once you factor in interest on loans, income not earned because of medical school, and career progress, a financial edge is the exact opposite of what medical school entails.
Choosing to go to medical school because of status, money, or your parents doesn’t make you a bad person, but it could mean you are ill-directed. Try to take a step back and consider one thing that is the most important to you. When you have determined what that is, consider each and every possible career that can make it possible.
Whatever you decide, make it your goal to be the best at it. Ultimately, finding the perfect career not only benefits you, but also those around you as well as the industry in which you are employed.