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Is Medical School Right for Me?

Before you get too far in the medical school application process, ask yourself the following question: Why do you want to go to medical school? Although you’ve probably thought about this question before, take some more time now to consider your answer. Use the following guidelines to decide if your reasons for wanting to go to medical school are legitimate, or if you should consider some other career paths. 

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Medical School Might Be Right For Me If:

  • I’m very interested in helping people in a hands-on way. The actions of physicians can literally change—or save!—their patients’ lives. It’s not always glamorous, but there’s no doubt that the work of a doctor is important.
  • I’m fascinated by science and the human body. Needless to say, those with such interests will get exactly what they’re looking for in a career as a physician.
  • I want an intellectually stimulating career that will give me a variety of opportunities to grow and learn. Physicians are constantly learning about new technology, procedures, and related science in order to maintain their licenses and be the best doctors they can. 
  • I want to work in a fast-paced, high-stakes environment. The work of a doctor is constantly changing. If you want variety in your work and to feel like what you’re doing is highly important, medicine may be a good fit for you.

Medical School Might NOT Be Right For Me If:

  • I don’t like making difficult decisions, and avoid making them whenever possible. In the hospital and clinic, physicians work on a team with nurses, therapists, and residents who are taking care of the patient. The physician, by virtue of his or her education, is granted the legal power and obligation to lead the health care team and will be expected to make the difficult decisions.
  • I’m considering medical school because it’s expected of me by parents, mentors, friends, etc. It’s easy to feel like becoming a doctor is your only option if you have friends or relatives who have become doctors or tell you that medicine would be a great field for you. But when it comes down to it, you need to remove all other people from the equation to decide whether or not you want to go to medical school. If the opinions of others didn’t matter, what would you decide?
  • I’m highly interested in the prestige that comes with being a doctor. It’s true that becoming a medical doctor is impressive, but the knowledge that you’re impressing others won’t carry you through the difficult times that inherently come with being a medical student and doctor.
  • I’m not interested in continuing my education after you’ve completed my training (in this case, medical school and residency). Doctors are required to maintain their medical license and stay up-to-date on current technology, procedures, and science. If this sounds like too much work, consider a different path. 
  • I’m basing my assumptions about medical school, residency, and beyond on TV shows or movies. As with all things, the media glamorizes health professions. If you’re expecting something like what you see in Grey’s Anatomy or ER, prepare to be surprised. 

Remember that the notes above are just guidelines; just because you identify with a point on the list of reasons medical school might not be a good fit doesn’t mean you should immediately abandon all your dreams of becoming a doctor. However, if after considering your reasons for going to medical school you feel like a career as a doctor isn’t a perfect fit for you, don’t worry; there are still plenty of other careers in the medical field, such as nursing, that you can and should consider.