Sunday, 12 May 2013

8 Reasons to Not Become a Doctor

1. You are not willing to work hard.

Becoming a doctor requires a great deal of dedication and sacrifice, including time and money. Few students are so smart they can afford to slack off, but even if they have the luxuries, they usually choose not to. Medical education everywhere is changing; it is shifting from classroom lectures to self-directed learning and problem-based learning (PBL). Rote learning takes place at home; at campus, you discuss and brainstorm and solve problems. My professor once said that this system would make hard-working students smart, and lazy students stupid. Make sure you're in the first bunch.


2. You easily complain about money.

There's no denying it: medical school everywhere is expensive. Besides school fees, there are textbooks, journals, and equipments that you have to buy. I'm not saying that you have to be especially rich to get into medical school; nevertheless, you must realise that there will likely be extra expenditures that you have to make some time during your study. Secure a scholarship, get a part-time job, look for a great school with lower financial demands, manage your money well, utilise your school's library and digital library to the max!


3. You want to get rich fast.

There are doctors who are stinkin' rich, but that's the exception, not the rule. Businessmen make gazillions, and probably lawyers do too, in a relatively short time, but not doctors. Our dean of medicine always say: "Doctors will always live sufficiently, but never rich." People always need doctors, so there's no doubt that you will make money. But if you aim for some extra wealth, you have to work long and hard, and maybe you have to sub-specialise in a very specific branch of study. Alternatively, if you could run a side business; some of my friends are doing this: selling clothes, accessories, food, and even starting a pet shop from scratch!


4. It's somebody else's request.

A medical doctor is generally viewed as one of the most (if not the most) prestigious and noble profession. In some cultures, a doctor is often likened to a god, omniscient and omnipresent. Inevitably, many parents dream that their children would become doctors. However, the decision to enter medicine should be yours. Medicine is different from most other professions in the way that it will also become your life, your identity. It is an important decision. You are the one who's going to walk the path and endure the long tortuous journey; others will only cheer when you graduate and when they get free consultation from you. So make sure it's wholeheartedly your choice. If you don't see yourself as a doctor, then don't waste your life.


5. It's only for ego fulfillment.

Similar to point #4 above, sometimes the feeling of prestige is felt by you. You are amazed by the amount of respect that those white coated folks get from their peers. If you are a man, you fall in love with the idea that a male doctor is sexy; if you are a woman, with the idea that having a doctor boyfriend/husband is sexy. Don't laugh, this happens, and sadly, though understandably, it mostly affects people whose family lacks doctors. If you realise that you're gonna be the first doctor in your family, make sure you research well. Ask around. Ask actual med students. Ask med school dropouts, why they quit. Then do your informed judgement.


6. You falter quickly.

A medical student must have the mentality of a champion athlete. Medical school and residency is somewhat similar to a military boot camp. It takes a certain positive attitude and a fighting spirit to make you stay. Those who are in medical school are top students at their previous schools. There's a joke among us that once a star student enters med school, he will find himself at the bottom of the food chain. If you're used to getting straight A's during high school, be prepared to get a humble B or C in med school. Be prepared to find weaknesses in areas that you never knew you had. That's why loving what you do is highly critical.


7. You are unable to empathise.

Admit it, there are geniuses out there who simply suck at social life. They do better behind a desk with paperwork, a microscope, and a petri dish, and most likely these folks will like it better that way. I have many friends who are like that; they mostly end up in pure sciences. Doctors will meet people from various backgrounds, cultures, and stages of illness. They will need to strike a delicate balance between friendliness, understanding, and professional detachment.


8. You don't have life outside medicine.

This might surprise some, but I observe that medical students who have other passions outside medicine will actually make better doctors. Yes, medicine requires dedication, but you don't need to breathe, eat, dream, sweat medicine 24/7 for all your entire life. Non-medical interests, including socialising with non-medical folks, will keep you grounded and broad-minded, and will make you a complete person with better empathy. After all, medical science is a science but medicine is a humanities, an art.



  1. Point number 6 hits home in a pretty hard way...

    1. Haha yeah it's pretty humbling. I once kept asking myself what's wrong with me, what's changed... until I realised that med school is a different realm, strange things doth happen here...


Any thoughts...?