What to Consider before Becoming a Doctor
The medical profession holds a tremendous amount of appeal for a certain kind of person. If you’re clever enough to learn how the human body works in all of its intricacy, and you have a natural inclination toward helping people, then you might conclude that a life as a doctor is the right one for you.
But there are a number of less-well-publicised pitfalls that end up severely demoralising those at the start of their new careers. In some cases, doctors are pushed out of the job entirely, by factors that they had not thought to consider.
Well, it’s time to consider some of those factors. Let’s take a look through each of them.
Doctors are expected to work extremely long hours, especially during the early phases of a career. According to medical journal The Lancet, “…recent insight into junior doctor morale in the UK revealed that many doctors felt exploited and dehumanised by their employers.” The same publication cites ‘maladaptive coping practices’ (in the form of caffeine and other stimulants) as something that can make the situation worse. Add to this the fact that you’ll come into close contact with tragedy and death, and you have a recipe for serious stress.
If you want to succeed as a doctor, therefore, you’ll need to be aware of the stressful environment you’re walking into, and to find ways of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in spite of the demands placed on you.
As you enter the profession, you might be motivated by a desire to heal the sick, and to put smiles onto the faces of people who were miserable when you met them. What you might not look forward to quite so much is the accompanying paperwork. Modern medicine relies on accurate record-keeping; without it, you leave yourself open to accusations of doctor negligence, as well as making yourself less effective as a legal practitioner.
You might not know exactly what kind of doctor you’d like to be at the outset. And even if you do have an idea, it’s worth keeping an open mind, as there may be specialisations you haven’t yet discovered. You should be prepared to find certain kinds of work less appealing than others – but that’s okay! You can pivot into something different along the way.
With that said, each specialisation will require extensive training and expertise – so you’re not going to shift on a whim from being an endocrinologist to a physiotherapist. Once you’ve discovered what you’d like to do, you’ll want to stick with it for the long-term.
You won’t know everything
Most of the people who end up in the medical profession grow up as the most intelligent people in their social circles. Being thrown into university, and then into a medical environment, might therefore be a bit of a culture-shock. Be prepared for a steep learning curve, and to swallow your pride when it comes to asking questions.