This is a very common question a lot of Medical students get asked at least once in their study carrier, starting from University applications to friends, family and strangers.
I wasn’t one of those people who always knew that they wanted to become a doctor. Having a huge passion for Arts, Film and Literature, but also a great interest for science, specially for biology and physics (which I discovered later on), made it hard for me to plan my future life. Only a few years later, I learned that life is not that easy to categorize and it’s amazing to have a great variety of interests. But back then, just after graduating, I thought that I needed to give up passions in order to have a successful life (blogpost on that is coming very soon). Anyway, since it’s that time of the year again, when students in school are taking their finals and thinking of the next steps after school, I thought I would share some of my reasons why I choose my subject from a view of a fourth year medical student!
You can be a doctor anywhere
The beauty of studying Medicine it that the human body is universal. No matter where we are on this planet, the core of the human body is the same. Obviously, we are not identical to each other (that would be the most boring thing) and there are a lot of variations in appearance, physiology, genetic adaptions and of course, diseases, but the Medicine we get taught is adaptable on any human individual. There are endless possibilities to work abroad or even move countries to work as a doctor. As a doctor or even a medical student, we are not restricted on one particular country. I lived in Tokyo for a couple of months, working at the University hospital, while a few of my friends worked at the same time in Cape town, Mumbai and Manila. I’m well aware of the fact that of course it’s a privilege to have a choice of working abroad or moving countries and it’s very dependent on your home country, your financial and personal life. And also, every country has it’s own rules of accepting medics from other countries and sometimes, the transformation to another country can be a journey itself. But no matter where you are, who you are, how your life as been so far, when you are a doctor, you are a doctor, and when another doctor speaks to you, they’ll call you their colleague.
Community spirit and being part of a bond which exists since centuries
I have to go a little bit emosh here, but the first time to stand in your white coats with your fellow students in a lab room, the dissection room or a hospital ward makes you feel as if you are a part of something bigger. The first time studying for a scary huge exam, and not being alone with that because all your fellow students are in the same bubble as you, and the emotional support you receive and give was an amazing experience for me. I know it sounds dramatic, but going through really, really stressful, emotional, disheartening, but also exciting, rewarding, challenging times in Medschool together bounds you.
There is a huge community on this planet consisting of people working on the medical field. Even tho there are little varieties in medical terms, treatment plans and clinical procedures from each country, there is a whole universal concept behind it. We have further training programs and conferences all over the world, we read each others publications in order to educate ourself and exchange knowledge. Working in hospitals and doctor’s offices is based on Teamwork, Communication, trust in each other, relaying on each other, learning from each other.
Pushing your personal boundary
This starts from Medical school and is a never ending story. As I mentioned in my What Medical School has taught me post, I sometimes couldn’t understand how I managed to put so much knowledge or study material in my brain without physically breaking. We learn all about the brain, it’s anatomy and physiology and about psychology, but the aren’t we the biggest witness of how amazing our brain works that by going through all this endless study marathons and personal developing ourselfs? Medical school is a hard journey which consumes your life. Besides the workload, there is a lot of inter social communication, learning by humiliation, learning to interact with all sorts of people, admitting that you can’t know everything, learning to deal with tragic diseases, death and grieve. Dissecting a body donation, a human with a whole past life and grieving relatives, is a boundary. Blood drawn of a patient and physically wound their skin due that during your clerkships/electives is a boundary. Witnessing a patient die or being a part of a resuscitation is a boundary. But setting a personal boundary higher then you experienced before in a good cause, in order to change and help the life quality of another human being and developing and growing as a person is something I already experienced in my medical pathway and wish to work on continually.
Learning for a life time
“Medicine is like the slow raising of masonry,” Rob said. “We are fortunate, in a lifetime, to be able to lay a single brick. If we can explain the disease, someone yet unborn may devise a cure.”
― Noah Gordon,
Obviously, this is not restricted just to Medicine, but when finishing Medical school and when you’ve specialised in whatever you desire, learning doesn’t stop there. In fact, I feel like it becomes an even bigger part of your daily life then it did before. One day, there is an official treatment plan for a certain disease, the next day, it could be changed. There is a constant progress in everything medical. Staying up to date, solving complicated, enigmatic diseases, finding the right treatment for a particular patient and adapting everything you have ever learned on specific cases is the reality of a doctors life. Being confident enough to say “I don’t know” when a patient asks you a questions which you don’t know the answer to, but willing to read up, exchange wisdom and knowledge with your colleagues, takes a lot of courage and character. Not closing your mind and seeing yourself as a know-it-all-god-of-the-doctors, being open to learn every single day for the rest of your life, is not only something I admire in the doctors I see, but in people in generell. Growing as a person, changing perspectives, being open minded and not only helping out your patients with their life quality but also helping yourself developing is something I really learned in the last years of medical school and am planning to maintain this in my future life.
Combining Science and Art
So as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I’m was struggling to find a balance between my love for Art and Science. Medicine is a lot of science! This is something a lot of people don’t really consider. We start of with Chemistry, Biochem, Physics, Maths, Microbio and Pharm. The depth and extent of this subjects varies from school to school, but you have to do them no matter where you are ending up. They are the base of Medicine. So a decent interest in science would be highly recommended. But Medicine, at least in my opinion, isn’t just about the science. In a way, it’s Art. You have the art of communication, interaction and listening, the aesthetics of certain medical procedures such as surgery, the constant need to interpret and thinking creative in moderation when it comes to non common medical questions. It’s a very visuell subjects, considering Anatomy and Histology, Radiology and diagnosis by first impression and the perfect balance for me personally.
There are a lot of other reasons which I didn’t mentioned in this post, but I hope you found a little inside here and hopefully, this post might be helpful to some of you who are considering studying Medicine in the future. For my fellow medics – do you agree with the points? What are your reasons?
I hope you had a great weekend so far!