Medicine is an incredibly vast, interesting and rewarding career. It covers so many specialities – from being a lab-based histopathologist, a pillar of the community as a rural General Practitioner or even a technical wizard of a neurosurgeon – that there is something for everyone.

Why Study Medicine?

There’s a lot of advice out there on how to get into medicine. It’s presented as a lofty, competitive goal – and it is! But often, when we think about how to get into medicine, we can forget why we want to become doctors in the first place.

Studying medicine is, ultimately, a profound commitment to serving humanity, making a positive impact on people’s lives, and contributing to the betterment of society. Medicine offers a unique opportunity to combine scientific knowledge, critical thinking, and compassionate care to alleviate suffering and promote health.

The field of medicine is ever-evolving, providing endless opportunities for learning, growth, and innovation. It offers a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

The journey to becoming a doctor is challenging, requiring dedication, perseverance, and sacrifice – however, the rewards of making a difference in the lives of patients make the pursuit of medicine an incredibly meaningful and fulfilling path!

Personal Motivation

Medical degrees take at least five years, and then you’ll be a doctor for the rest of your life, including constant learning and studying. Having a personal motivation to study medicine is absolutely key. Plus, you’ll have to discuss that at your med school interviews!

Obviously, everyone will have their own reasons (it’s a, well, personal motivation), but some things are common to lots of prospective doctors:

  • A passion for helping others and making a positive impact on people’s lives. Medicine is a career where you get to help people hands-on, seeing the impact of your work directly every day. It’s cliché, sure, but it’s true – and it makes for a job with a real sense of purpose.
  • A desire for a challenging and intellectually stimulating career. Few careers require the breadth of knowledge, regular problem-solving, and involvement in clinical research and improvement that medicine does. Senior consultants are the final decision makers on complex clinical cases, working with their experienced team.

An interest in the human body, biology, and healthcare – how people work on every level. This might sound trite, but medicine is fundamentally about the study of the human body, human lives and the social healthcare systems. If that floats your boat, medicine offers you an opportunity to study the whole human body in detail.

Career Opportunities

As well as personal interest, many people recognise that medicine offers an extremely wide range of career opportunities within healthcare. It’s a good way to keep your options open:

  • There’s a wide range of career paths within medicine, with tens of specialities with very different day-to-day working environments. You can take our quiz to see which one might suit you! And if clinical medicine isn’t for you in the end, doctors are sought after in other fields from healthcare start-ups and consulting to management. There are many alternative options for you to explore. 
  • You can’t deny that medicine offers job security, especially amid the current high demand for healthcare professionals. You won’t be out of work (but it’s worth bearing in mind that speciality job applications are more competitive than ever, so it may not be the specific job you want. 
  • Doctors have access to many flexible opportunities for specialization and advancement – there are lots of options as a consultant and many people undertake research, education or management work alongside clinical work (this is often referred to as a portfolio career.) 

A Sense Of Fulfilment 

On top of all the pragmatic, career-based reasons, you also can’t deny that medicine offers a level of personal and intellectual fulfilment beyond most other graduate jobs:

  • First off, there are the emotional rewards of making a difference in patients’ lives –  you can follow patients across their healthcare journey and see how their lives have changed for the better. You’re on the ground, working with patients you know well and can support on a personal level, building strong patient-doctor relationships.
  • Medicine is a job where you’re always learning to stay up-to-date with medical advancements. You might even be researching areas you see are neglected in your own practice and contributing to medical knowledge: most consultants are world experts in their area of expertise. It makes for a career with a meaningful sense of intellectual accomplishment.
  • Supporting some of the most marginalised members of society. As a doctor, you take care of everyone, and you have a special opportunity to stand up for people who are struggling. This can be on a global scale, volunteering abroad with an organisation like MSF, or on a local scale, campaigning for issues that affect your patients like access to housing.  Of course, there’s no need to wait until you’re a qualified medic: you can also help in other ways by volunteering now.

Things To Consider

That said, medicine isn’t perfect (what is?). When thinking about why you’d study medicine, it’s also worth considering why you wouldn’t:

  • The application process is competitive and long, involving you taking additional tests, such as the UCAT, and getting relevant work experience. 
  • The degree is longer than normal: five (or six) years compared to three. This also means you rack up more student debt and wait longer before you start earning.
  • Medicine can be emotionally hard. We’ve talked a lot about the emotional fulfilment when things go right, but there’s also the emotional devastation when things go wrong. Look at famous medical memoirs, like Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt or Henry Marsh’s Do No Harm, which offer an unflinching look at the emotional toll the profession can take.
  • Medicine is also physically hard: night shifts and twelve hour shifts are part of the job, although this can be modified by occupational health for disabled physicians.
  • It might simply not appeal: if you don’t like people, aren’t interested in human biology, or want a desk job, look at something else. Similarly, you don’t want to become a doctor just because your parents or guardians want you to be.

How To Know If Medicine Is Right For You?

At the end of the day, you’re the only person who can decide if the positives outweigh the benefits for you. To decide, it really helps to talk to doctors and do work experience to get a feel for the day-to-day job. 

You should also look at other healthcare jobs to make sure you understand the differences between jobs and avoid missing something you’d really love doing. Perhaps you’d like to do nursing or dentistry or even veterinary medicine instead? Consider all of your options before committing to life-long learning that medicine is! 

At the end of the day, it’s your decision – and it’s worth spending time on it before jumping headfirst into medicine admissions prep!

If you’re still deciding on medicine, have a look for some more tips.


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