Before applying for medicine, make sure you understand the advantages and disadvantages of life as a doctor
Making a conscious effort to know the pros and cons is particularly good preparation for interviews, as interviewers may want to get an idea about how much you have thought through medicine as a career choice and whether you are being realistic about the idea of being a doctor.
As an undergraduate in the UK, it takes five or six years depending on what medical school you go to or if you intercalate to complete medicine. As a graduate, it typically takes four years. But the training never really stops. There is a two-year foundation programme following medicine, and then many years after that to become a registrar and then a consultant.
There is growing awareness that health care workers, especially in the NHS, experience high levels of burnout. Ultimately, this role can become highly stressful very quickly.
Doctors work notoriously long hours. And night shifts are commonplace. This means that sometimes sleep is majorly disrupted (click here, to see Prof Matthew Walker, Sleep Expert at Harvard University, discuss the sleep loss epidemic occurring in the medical community). It means doctors often have to sacrifice spending time with family and loved ones due to on-call responsibilities where you have to treat people after-hours because of emergencies.
Unfortunately, some of your patients will have negative health outcomes. This is part of working in healthcare. What is even more difficult is having to break bad news to patients or loved ones; from a new diagnosis to someone passing away. This can be difficult to handle and can take a toll on your mental, emotional and physical health if not properly taken care of and monitored. Being a doctor requires well practised coping strategies to maintain effective, stable and consistent within the role.
There are pros and cons to every career option but as you can see from above medicine has more of an impact good and bad on the lives of everyone involved. The question is do the pros outweigh the cons for you personally? If so, medicine just may be the right career choice for you.
Unlike many other professions, in medicine, you can have a significant positive impact on the life of someone else. In doing so, you can have connections with patients that are unmatched elsewhere. Naturally, how you can improve someone's life depends on what area you choose to work.
Medicine can be satisfying for several different reasons. One main reason is that medicine is challenging. As a result, it is intellectually satisfying to learn about ideas and science that impact people directly. Finally, it is very variable so even if you have been working in the same speciality for a long time, there will always be new situations, patients, technologies and treatments that you will get to learn and implement in practice.
People will always need doctors: those with the relevant skills and experience who can diagnose and treat conditions. In fact, despite large swathes of job-losses in a range of industries due to automation; doctors remain in massive demand all across the world.
There are many sub-specialties within medicine. For example, you can become a specialist medic, surgeon, educator, or general practitioner working in your community. This means that you can fit your career specifically around your interests, which is highly rewarding.
Medicine is an increasingly interdisciplinary profession. This means that lots of sub-specialists have to work together: including doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and nurses. This can be a massive positive for individuals who like working with others as part of a cohesive group of individuals to care for patients.
If you'd like to find out more about what doctors do take a look at our Admissions Guide.
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