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.* 

Work-life balance

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.

Or, you can join the conversation on our Facebook page or tweet us @gmcuk 

* Depending on age. 



Funzamo dumisane (2 years ago)

Being a doctor its a challange you see things that are very bad.the reason i choose thz career it is because i hate seeing people suffering wth deases and i choose this career because i have the ability to help people directly and make them happy

Omar Awadallah (2 years ago)

its my first year studying medicine, i started about 3 weeks ago, the reason that i have chosen medicine is that i pretty much liked biology back in high school, at that moment when i graduated from high school, i knew that medicine is the right choice for me , i hated physics and math ALOOT, i cant study engineering at all even if it was for free , i know medicine is way too hard , but something that we Muslims say is (( every hard worker in life will be tired for years , but for the ignorant and non hard workers will be tired for the rest of their lives ))

Melody Redman (4 years ago)

When I applied for medicine I wasn't sure if I'd get in or if it was even right for me. My plan B was to train as a history teacher! Now after four years of medical school and one intercalating, it's difficult to imagine my life any other way. I think I would still pick it again. It's important to remember that 'a life in medicine' means so many different things, and there are so many potential routes to follow - you can even carve your own to some extent.

One of the most encouraging things is to help at widening participation workshops, and let those students remind you of your buzz when you first started!