Before applying for medicine, make sure you understand the advantages and disadvantages of life as a doctor
What are the pros and cons of becoming a doctor?
Making a conscious effort to know the both sides of the story is particularly good preparation for medical and dental school interviews.
Interviewers may ask about how much you've thought about medicine as a career choice and whether you're being realistic about the nature of the role.
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 major 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, and allied health professionals.
This can be a major positive if you like working with others to care for patients. It can also be challenging and test your communication skills.
If you'd like to find out more about what doctors do, take a look at our Admissions Guide.
Getting into medical school is tough. 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.
Graduate entry medicine typically takes four years (five if you don't have a science background).
Whichever option you choose, the training never really stops. After medical school, there is a two-year foundation programme and then many years to become a registrar and finally 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, so you'll need to make sure that you're equipped to handle this.
Doctors work notoriously long hours and night shifts are commonplace. Sleep is commonly disrupted – in fact, there is a sleep loss epidemic occurring in the medical community.
This means doctors often have to sacrifice spending time with family and loved ones due to on-call responsibilities.
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.
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. Doctors need coping strategies to remain effective and consistent.
There are pros and cons to every career but medicine has more of an impact on the lives of others – good and bad.
You need to ask yourself the question of whether the pros outweigh the cons for you personally:
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