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5 Reasons to Go to Medical School, and 5 to Not

Session 45

Should You Go to Medical School? 5 Reasons to Go to Medical School, and 5 to Not

Should you go to medical school? How do you know if medicine is right for you? In today’s episode, we talk about 5 reasons to go to medical school and 5 reasons to not.

In the first part of the episode, I also play a short clip from the EntreLeadership Podcast talking about how you have to truly enjoy patient care to enjoy your job as a physician and truly be rewarded in the career.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

Should You Go to Medical School?

Here are 5 reasons you should go to medical school:

  1. Improving the lives and health of other people.
  2. Being a leader in a healthcare team.
  3. Amazing clinical and non-clinical job options.
  4. Being a lifelong learner in an intellectually stimulating career.
  5. Being able to perform surgery.

Here are 5 reasons you should not go to medical school:

  1. Don’t go for money.
  2. Don’t go for prestige.
  3. Don’t go because it looks cool on TV dramas.
  4. Don’t go because of parents pressuring you.
  5. Don’t go if you want a great work-life balance.

Let’s dig into these reasons a little deeper.

5 Reasons to Go to Medical School

  1. Improving the lives and health of other human beings.

  • You can improve lives many ways, but as a doctor, you’re really focused on improving the health and life of your patients, often in significant ways.
  • It becomes more than just “wanting to help people.”
  • Helping the family cope at the end of a patient’s life is a profound thing.
Helping the family cope at the end of a patient's life is a profound thing.Click To Tweet
  1. Being a leader in a healthcare team.

  • You’re leading a group of people in the care of a patient on your service.
  • You have autonomy, and people look to you for guidance and reassurance.
  1. Amazing clinical and non-clinical job options.

  • Clinician seeing patients in a hospital, private practice, or community center
  • Clinician-educator
  • Researcher (bench or clinical research)
  • Working for the government (e.g., FDA)
  • Working for a pharmaceutical company
  • Teacher
  • Creating an awesome podcast (like this one!)
  1. Being a lifelong learner in an intellectually-stimulating career.

Every person should be a lifelong learner. But medicine changes all the time, so physicians especially have to make sure they continually learn, so they can continually improve their patients’ lives.

  1. Being able to perform surgery.

The ability to operate on another human being and having that trust from your patient is profound.

Additional reason:

With medicine, you have the ability to change not only one life but many lives by finding a cure or discovering a new virus or a new medicine. You could change lives across the world.

5 Reasons to Not Go to Medical School

  1. Money

  • It’s the wrong reason to want to become a doctor.
  • If you only want to make money, you can be many things—banker, lawyer, stockbroker. Medicine is not the place to go.
  • Medicine is something you do day in and day out, and if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’re going to be miserable no matter how much money you make.
  • Not to mention that medical school is so expensive—you will have to deal with huge loans.
If you don't love what you're doing day-to-day as a physician, you're going to be miserable no matter how much money you make.Click To Tweet
  1. Prestige

  • If you want to become a doctor just to have that “MD” at the end of your name, you will be dissatisfied with your work.
  • Respect and prestige are things you earn from the hard work you put in, not by just having some initials at the end of your name.
  • Don’t talk about wanting to be respected in your personal statement to medical school.
If you want to become a doctor just to have that 'MD' at the end of your name, you will be dissatisfied with your work.Click To Tweet
  • Be careful about how you introduce yourself to patients.
  • Introducing yourself as the “doctor” can let the patient know you’re with them, but it can also put up a wall when you should be getting on their level and making them comfortable.
  1. Being a doctor looks cool on TV dramas.

  • What you see on a medical drama is not what life is actually like as a physician.
  • Life as a physician is hell (but worth it).
  • There are so many discrepancies in medical dramas that are just unrealistic and crazy.
Life as a physician is hell (but worth it).Click To Tweet
  1. Pressure from your parents

  • Try to shadow a physician and see if it’s something you want to do in your life.
  • Don’t pursue medicine based on your parents telling you to.
  • You have to have the passion and desire to be called to this profession.
  • You cannot do this for someone else. This is your life to live.
You cannot do this for someone else. This is your life to live.Click To Tweet
  1. Work-life balance

  • Medicine is stressful.
  • Medicine takes over your life. It becomes who you are.
  • Your work-life balance may get better as an attending (depending on your field), but it still takes a lot from you and your family.
Medicine takes over your life. It becomes who you are.Click To Tweet

[Related episode: The Dark Side of Medical Education: Premed Through Residency.]

Additional reason:

Being the smartest person in your class doesn’t mean you should go to medical school. Medicine is not all about intelligence. Bedside manner is just as crucial.

Being the smartest person in your class doesn't mean you should go to medical school. Click To Tweet

How to Tell If You Should Go to Medical School or Not

You have to do what you love. That is what shadowing is for, so you will know what it’s like to be a physician. You have to know what you’re getting into to make sure you’ll be happy on the other side.

The most crucial step in deciding whether you should go to medical school is to shadow some physicians.Click To Tweet

Do some soul-searching no matter where you are in the process, and go through this list to help you figure out if medicine might really be for you.

So how do you know if you should go to medical school? You need to shadow some physicians and get some clinical experiences. Start volunteering at a hospital or clinic. Get around patients, observe the physicians doing their job, and see if it feels right to you.

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