becoming a doctor

Have you ever contemplated the things one must give up on the road to become a Doctor? It’s a long road, beginning with an initial decision to;

– Complete a Bachelor Degree (3 year minimum)

– Work hard trying to achieve a high GPA in a Bachelor Degree

– Take part in some early voluntary experiences

– Complete the GAMSAT exam with an ideal score

But it doesn’t even end here. The hard work really only begins whilst studying medicine where long hours and repeated exams are considered normal and where you need your patients more than they need you.

There are many things you must give up along the way. The top 7 include:


1. Your desire to be wealthy
Very few people in medicine ever become very wealthy. If riches are what you desire there are many many easier ways of attaining this goal, which involve alot less heartache, money and stress. If you want to be worth millions before you’re 30, my advice would be to avoid university altogether and start investing in property or become an entrepreneur.

If money is your number one goal medicine is not for you. Instead research about ‘Nathan Birch’ – a 29 year old Australian property investor who owns over 75 properties and is worth over $10 million.

Most doctors are in the profession for genuinely altruistic reasons as well as the satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have the knowledge and skills to save lives and can apply these every single day.

2. Your desire to change the world
Equally you must, eventually, give up on the idea of becoming some sort of medical superhero who can solve the worlds medical problems one by one. Yes doctors can do some impressive things when applying their skills to the right situation. But remember that however good your intentions, you will not be able to overcome the problems caused by war, poverty, abuse or government neglect. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to help people afflicted by any of these, you’ll just find that you are usually too small to make any real systemic difference.

3. Your free weekends
It begins whilst studying medicine, when the work starts to pile up, and weekends are sacrificed to meet deadlines. Once you begin working as an intern, you’ll find yourself scanning each new doctors rota to work out where your on-call weekends have landed and who can swap with you so that you can still go to your best mates party, or that holiday or to your own wedding. There will be sunny weekends when your non-medic friends will be having some drinks and a barbecue whilst you sweat it out in a ward seeing yet another gastrointestinal bleed wondering why you chose this path.

4. Your desire to avoid feeling like a fool
You will make mistakes from time to time in this job and your mistakes will all be potentially serious ones, simply because everything you do affects your patients’ lives directly.
In addition to this, there will be times when you have to withstand an onslaught from senior doctors who feel that teaching by humiliation is the only way forward. You will feel like an idiot at times and if the thought of that frightens you you should promptly pick a different profession.

5. Your desire to always put family and friends first

As a doctor your job usually takes priority and you cannot avoid your responsibilities simply because you have prior engagements of a personal nature. Over the years I’ve heard of many difficult situations including a doctor friend who had to turn down a role as best man for a close friend because nobody could swap his on-call weekend with him.

Apart from sickness or bereavement, your first priority will be to your profession. Your friends and family may find that difficult to understand at first. They’ll come round to it with time.

6. Your desire to please everyone.
Whether it’s your friends or family, as above, or your future patients you’d better get used to upsetting people from time to time. Telling your wife you need to postpone an evening engagement because you are still operating on a difficult case, or telling a patient you won’t be operating on them as they only have three months to live, are both likely to be met with upset. Each situation has it’s unique challenges and needs some communication skills, but the bottom line is that you will have times when you will have to make someone want to either hit you or cry in despair.

7. Your desire to stay in one place and live close to friends and family.
Want to do something competitive, like medicine? You have to realise that choosing your location is a luxury and you may have to follow your dream in a less than ideal location. Many students are required to move to a different state to start their medicine degree.

Even after you graduate, having your heart set on one speciality is a sure way to geographical instability. Some people don’t mind this, but some with strong family ties or a mortgage, the need to move frequently is a pain.

That’s plenty to sacrifice just for a job don’t you think? However, I guess the reason you’re aiming to get into medicine is that you’ve realised that medicine is not just a job, it’s a whole way of life, that’s difficult to let go of once you’ve decided to enter it, and these sacrifices are simply part of the deal.


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