What motivates people to pursue a career in medicine?
After years studying at medical school, you’ll be faced with yet more training and exams, long hours pacing the wards, and helping people through some of the most difficult and personal experiences of their lives. So who would choose to become a doctor?
The list of challenges in a medical career is long, only matched by the positive reasons that medical students list for choosing a path in medicine. Among the reasons why people decide to become doctors, are the desire for a steady career, a healthy pay-packet and a respected status in society.
Potential doctors can also be motivated by a sense of altruism, because of academic achievement in the sciences, or because of their admiration for relatives or family friends already working in the field. Or, maybe they just watched too much Doogie Howser, M.D. or House while they were growing up.*
But the recent row over out-of-hours care in England has highlighted the dilemma that doctors face. Following the revised 2004 contract, 90% of doctors chose to sacrifice part of their salary to forfeit their out-of-hours responsibilities and gain a better work-life balance.
Nevertheless, the GMC recently issued a warning over doctors’ working hours based on research which found that some doctors may be working nearly 100 hours a week during their busiest shifts – increasing the potential for mistakes.
Critics suggest that becoming a doctor is more than a career – it’s a life choice and that doctors shouldn’t be able to shirk the hard work while keeping the status that doctors command.
Why did you choose medicine?
Given your experience of medical school so far, would you still choose a career in medicine if you could choose again? Tell us your reasons for becoming a medical student and choosing a life in medicine in the comments section below.
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* Depending on age.