The one question you can almost certainly expect to come up in your interview.
However, what motivates you now may change (slightly or drastically) as you progress into your medical studies. Here are seven med school students discussing what currently motivates them to study medicine.
Ateka, 4th Year:
Despite believing I was when completing my application, I was not in truth, aware of just how intense the workload of medical school would be.
It was difficult to stay motivated when the lectures were consistently piling up. Instead, I was itching to meet with real patients, but when I did, I was daunted by how little I knew of how to help them.
Hearing from brilliant doctors that they too struggled through medical school made me realise that how I was feeling was normal and that yes, there was still hope that I could become a good doctor.
So, my motivation to get through university became the image of the doctor I want to be in the future- someone who’s both up to date with clinical knowledge and capable of building a strong rapport with patients and colleagues.
Beatrice, 3rd Year:
Currently a third-year medical student, I am continually reminded of the reasons I chose to study medicine through my studies and interactions with patients.
Learning about a new drug that has just been introduced to the market, or novel technology that is beginning to revolutionise treatment, confirms just how exciting a career in medicine will be.
When we do interact with patients, it also puts the hard work into perspective: it’s an exciting prospect that the knowledge we’re gradually accumulating at medical school will eventually have a positive impact on many people’s lives.
While studying medicine, so many doors have already been opened, including academic research, clinical experience, and travel to name just a few. As such a varied degree, medicine will always be mentally stimulating, but equally as rewarding.
Keng, 3rd Year:
I pondered long and hard before deciding to read Medicine; it was not one of those childhood dreams. My decision to pursue Medicine became clearer only a year before university applications. I observed that my year-old cousin appeared jaundiced and encouraged my family to consult a doctor; unfortunately, she was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukaemia.
I felt an affinity with this field as I had made her parents aware of her condition and potentially saved a young child’s life, but at the same time I also felt helpless as I lacked the knowledge to treat her. However, I witnessed first-hand how Medicine, brought hope and assurance to us. A few years later, with the help of a great multi-disciplinary team (MDT), my cousin conquered cancer.
Now in my third year, I just could not imagine pursuing any other career. I have witnessed how intellectually stimulating a job in Medicine is. Each day, the doctors I am attached to are presented with new and diverse problems where a rapid decision must be made.
You are also required to call upon a whole host of skills throughout the day: teamwork in the MDT meetings, communication with colleagues and patient families, and so on. This daily variety keeps me interested.
Finally, being a doctor boil down to what you are achieving for the patient, and whilst it may sound cheesy, the satisfaction from making a direct difference in patients’ lives, is a sense of reward I do not think I could find in any other job.
Maria, Intercalated Year:
Medicine was a career that I had considered for a long time before I applied. As well as being fascinated by the intricacies of the human body, I was also excited by the prospect of lifelong learning.
After my sister was diagnosed with a rare disease, she remained unwell in hospital for weeks, and during my visits, I was inspired by the teamwork of the medical team in providing the best possible holistic care for my sister.
In particular, the honesty and integrity of the doctors when they were unable to immediately determine the cause of her being so unwell. They showed incredible compassion and provided invaluable support to my family throughout this difficult time.
Alongside this, my work experience and volunteering showed me how rewarding Medicine can be despite the challenges and confirmed that Medicine was the right path for me.
Since starting medical school, these reasons have become stronger but I think I’ve also had a greater realisation of how incredible it is to be there for a patient, to be involved in their care and to be able to make a difference, having had this unique opportunity at medical school in the pre-hospital environment.
Being a medical student is an incredible privilege. You have the opportunity of getting to know your patients, understanding their perspectives and the effect of their illness or injury on their life. Your reasons for choosing Medicine are probably very different from mine, and that’s ok.
But along the journey, which will be filled with as many obstacles as rewards, don’t forget why you chose Medicine. Keep in your heart and your mind why you chose this amazing career and you will not go wrong.
A professor once told me a degree in Medicine was like a golden airline ticket – with it you could go anywhere. It is easily overlooked, but taking a peek through the annals of history we see doctors have a strong precedent for this – authors like Arthur Conan Doyle and Anton Chekhov, Olympic athletes, politicians, and even revolutionaries like Che Guevara.
Not to mention the endless academics who have contributed so much as researchers have. With Medicine, you can go anywhere and be anyone. Still, with all that excitement, the humble duty of the jobbing doctor to see yet another patient on the medical take is no less extraordinary, to the best of our ability put the sick back on the pathway to health and contribute in our own gentle way to one of the most humble yet meaningful of human endeavours: to help.
We are contributing to something greater than ourselves, and there is nothing more motivating. Being the best doctor we can be is a chimera, but as Churchill put it: “You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
Safiya, 2nd Year:
My motivation for studying medicine stems from my reasons for choosing to go to medical school in the first place. I love learning about the human body; how it works and what happens when it goes wrong, and very importantly what we can do to help when it does.
Humans and the conditions we get are so complex; it is a privilege to study this and potentially play a part in helping to tackle some of the most devastating diseases in the future. Enjoying the course at medical school definitely keeps me keenly interested, but when I feel a bit disheartened by the large amount of lectures, my few clinical days inspire me.
Seeing the medical teams working together to achieve the best for a patient makes me realise why I am doing all of the studying. The reward at the end of it, to be able to truly make a difference in people’s lives at possibly one of the hardest times in their life is, for me, the best job that anyone could hope to have and this never fails to motivate me.
Shazia, 2nd Year:
It sounds very cliché, but I, like many others, chose to study Medicine because I really enjoyed the sciences and enjoyed the idea of studying a subject that would directly apply to real-life problems and would enable me to positively impact people’s lives in the future.
At school, I always enjoyed the sciences and found that I was good at them, but I also really enjoyed the humanities and languages and learning about different cultures now and in the past.
Therefore, for me, Medicine just seemed to encapsulate so much that I was really interested in and offered such a broad scope for what I can do in the future. Some people think that doing Medicine means you will end up being a doctor working in a hospital or a GP.
For me, Medicine always seemed like a gateway to working in a whole host of roles. For example, as a scientific researcher, working in global health policy or of course, working as a doctor. The broad range of possibilities is something that really excites me and motivates me to continue with the course, even if the content is challenging and the workload is intense.
Applying to Medicine? Book a space on our Interview Course!
Stand out with our one-day Medical Interview Course. It's full of doctor-created strategies for every interview type. You'll face a full-length mock interview, with detailed feedback at the end. You'll also get a 30,000-word interview bible. We're official Royal Society of Medicine partners.