No one can deny that a career as a doctor is prestigious. Let’s face it, being called, “Doctor,” is pretty cool. It indicates that you not only got into medical school, which is no small feat considering that nationally only about 40% of applicants get accepted to medical school each year. Completing med school is an even bigger deal. However, prestige is not a good reason to apply to medical school. At least it shouldn’t be the only one. Is medical school for you? Should you pursue a career as a doctor?
Considerations: Can You Manage the Academics and Med School Process?
- Can you tolerate years of education and training?
- Do you love science?
- Are you squeamish?
- Do you love studying, reading, and taking exams?
- Can you afford tuition? Living expenses? Expect loan debt of $200,000 or more, not including and debt related to obtaining an undergraduate degree.
- Are you ready to spend years living on a very tight budget and little-to-no income?
- Are you prepared to deal with the potential for malpractice suits? Do you know how much malpractice insurance costs and who will be responsible for it when you are a practicing physician?
- Are you prepared to consistently keep long hours? As a doctor you will find yourself working around the clock.
- Your relationships will be stretched as you won’t have time to socialize.
- Are you ready to see your non-med student peers move up in their careers and become financially established while you plug away at your education.
- Time and stress often lead medical students and doctors to experience difficulty in establishing and maintaining romantic relationships.
- Are you ready to spend prime years of your life, most of your 20s, in school? After residency and specialization you may find yourself well in your 30s by the time you’re finished.
- Are you prepared to meet many life milestones later than your peers? Marriage, financial stability, home ownership, parenthood?
- As a woman, are you willing to put off child bearing into your 30s, if at all?
- Can you manage high levels of stress over a long period? Exam-related stress? Saving-live-related stress?
Know what you're getting into. Medical school and residency isn't like Grey's Anatomy. You will work hard - lots of studying, long hours, and often it will not be fun. A career as a doctor can be exhausting, stressful, and yet amazingly rewarding. If you have a strong desire to learn medical science, as well as to help, as well as academic, social, and time management and organizational skills, a career in medicine might be for you.