One of the biggest problems in medical school is students usually join medicine without really knowing about medical school. After joining, you will find out things are not as you imagined they would be and end up getting frustrated and stressed. If you are asking yourself if you should go to med school, you are in the right place because, in this article, we will talk about things you should consider before joining medicine.
1. Why are you joining medicine? What is your motivation?
Med school is extremely long and stressful, and in those hard times, motivation and passion are the things that keep you going.
It is like a pain killer.
When students are asked their motives to join a medical school, they give many reasons which can be summarized by two types of motivation:
- Intrinsic and
- Extrinsic motivation.
Many students have the extrinsic motivation to join medicine. That means their reason is external. For example family pressure, social and financial reasoning is extrinsic type. Let us see some of them.
Many students are in med school due to these reasons and when they see the ups and downs of medical school most of them end up regretting the decision and blaming them for every problem they face in medical school. At the end of the day, you are the one who is going to lead your life so try not to choose a lifelong carrier out of other people pressuring you.
There is a HUGE misunderstanding on this topic. Many people think that doctors are rich and highly paid, and maybe that was the truth like 10 years ago. But that isn’t the case anymore. Nowadays the number of doctors and the number of hospitals are not proportional. The amount of joblessness is increasing. The hospitals don’t have enough budgets to hire new staff. You might think about opening a new private clinic. That is a possibility but the road isn’t straightforward you need to be a specialist doctor and become known, which is going to take a while.
Some students want to be a doctor just because they want to be respected in society, and there is nothing wrong with that. The thing is it may not be sufficient enough to make you feel motivated throughout medical school. Not only that but due to many reasons and misunderstandings, doctors are being blamed (sometimes sued or even worse, being threatened or physically abused) for things they didn’t do or even when they made the right decision.
Seeing doctors being made fun of in movies and so on isn’t a new thing nowadays. The ethical issue by itself isn’t easy to deal with. Sometimes It is so complicated or even inhumane as long as the patient wants to. So be ready to deal with that.
Because you are smart
Some students become confused when they score high results in the entrance exam. It is true, you need to score high to be accepted in medical school, but that doesn’t mean you must join med just because you are smart. There are a lot of other fields that need smart people like you. Therefore if you don’t have an interest in medicine, I don’t think joining is a good choice. Besides, being smart in high school or being good at biology doesn’t guarantee success in medical school too. Being a hard worker is as much as important as being smart.
Then what are the right reasons to join?
- Curious to know more about your own body
- Eager to help others in need
- If you think you can make a difference in the medical world
Generally, intrinsic motivations are much better than extrinsic and sometimes wrong assumptions. Medicine is so interesting, and you find yourself wowing at amazing facts about the human body if you are passionate, but on the other hand, if you aren’t it’s long, boring, and not worthy. If you don’t care about the patient at all, how can you be a good doctor? Either you quit and waste your time, keep unhappy, and hate your decision or you end up being one of those bad doctors who only care about the money and overcharge patients by ordering unnecessary tests.
2. Are you able to cope up with extreme situations?
Med school is known for a lot of challenges, and some of them are:-
- Long years:- the undergraduate degree takes 6 and half-years followed by a postgraduate degree with the year of 3-5 and sub-specialization takes up to 2-3 depending on the specialty and this adds up to 9 – 14 years of learning (which is exhausting) and if you are unwilling to “waste” your 20’s (best time of your life) studying, it might be better to consider other fields.
- Lots of material to cover:- the amount of material you need to cover is so big that sometimes it is expressed as drinking from a fire hose. The concepts are vast, and you need to be good at memorization and creativity. You need to STUDY HARD, WISELY. On average med students study 5-10 hours a day and even more than that in exam weeks and many students find it challenging to cope up with it. If you don’t have good study habits, most importantly if you don’t want to spend that much time in your studies, maybe then medicine may not be for you.
- Lots of exams:- In medicine not only the topics are vast, but also the exams are also very frequent. There will be exams every 2 or 3 weeks throughout the year and some students find it challenging to cope up with all those exams.
3. Do you have a good study habit?
Most of us don’t have good study habits in high school. We used cramming and studying all night just before we are going to the exams, but that won’t work in medicine since the topic is wide and you need to understand the topics rather than just regurgitating facts. You might get away with it for some time, but it will catch up to you eventually. Being a doctor is much more than just passing the exam and scoring good grades.
The second thing you should know is, in med school, you are almost on your own. Everything is up to you. In your high school if you are dependent on other people. It is better to adjust your mindset and find your way of surviving.
The other thing is knowing your strength and weakness. Most people don’t even know which way of studying is better and the sooner you figure that out the better. So give it a thought and most importantly use your weakness for your benefit. Everything has a positive and negative side, right? The difference between medicine and poison is the dose.
4. Do you discribe yourself as organized person? Are you good at making plans?
One of the hardships in medical school is being able to balance your life and medical school. If you don’t plan your routine, you will end up hurting one. Either you give everything you got to medical school and “waste” your twenties or you don’t give enough attention to medical school, and end up failing exams which is even more devastating.
So being able to balance these two things is vital and harder than you think unless you are good at planning things.
5. Are you a team player?
Med school is frustrating, and you need a good support system. Medical schools are known for competitive behavior but in the real world, you must be good at working and communicating with your team and colleague.
At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to save the life of your patient. So try to manage your competitive side and create a positive co-working atmosphere.
If you are an introvert type, try to be more sociable as much as you can. It is also good to have a study buddy. (I prefer having one.)
You should also be respectful of your fellow nurses and other staff. There is a beef among fresh doctors and nurse staff but they can make your life a nightmare or a nice one. So try being nice for the sake of yourself. After all, treating a patient is teamwork.
6. Do you have a good stress dealing habit?
Can you believe if I tell you that medical schools are packed with addicted students and other types of destructive ways of stress coping up mechanisms? If you are going to die at the age of 40 or 50 due to addiction-related diseases, why suffer so much in the first place in medicine right?
Therefore, try avoiding them at all costs. You can and should come up with another type of dealing mechanism, a positive one with other health and social benefits like
- Playing games(computer and mobile games)
- Going to church and mosque
- Eating/sleeping, etc.
Just make sure you aren’t doing them too much/often and end up hurting yourself.
7. Do you think you can handle self-doubt (imposter syndrome)?
This is one of the problems faced by fresh students. Almost every medical student is bright and smart in their high school life, maybe top of the class, but when they find somebody better than them, they find it hard to deal with and start doubting themselves.
It is completely reasonable, and everybody feels the same way at some point. So don’t feel bad. Try to be number 1 and try your best, but it is fine to be average. Eventually, your knowledge is what matters to your patient, not your GPA (But this doesn’t mean your GPA won’t matter at all, of course, you should try to be the best.) Just don’t beat yourself up.
So what do you think? Do you still think you should go to a med school? Share your thoughts on the comment below.
If you want to know what a medical school looks like, see the following video.
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