Trying to figure out if medicine is right for you? I know I spent a huge amount of time doing that.
Lists like this though, signs that I feel could help show you this might be for you, could prove useful.
My only wish is that I had something like this before I finally bit the bullet!
Signs You Should Be A Doctor
The following 30 things are good indications…
The more adaptable you consider yourself the better you’ll suit med. If you’re the type of person who has no problem abandoning one plan in light of another, particularly when it comes to studying, med school could be for you.
The same goes for working as a doctor; where having to stay late, get up early and tackle emergencies are all part of the job.
If you’re the type of person who can easily commit and see things through, in spite of setbacks, failures and the rest of it, then that’s a great sign you can make it in med. A lot of the time? Success in the field is all about showing up.
As well as resisting the urge to quit.
Can you embrace failure like a friend? Or look at it like a necessary step for progression? If you can that’s a good thing.
Becoming a doctor is going to throw down a lot of challenges. You’ll have to bounce back quickly from bad exams and learn to take anxiety and doubt in your stride. The better placed you are now to do that, the bigger the sign.
How geared up are you to park your behind and get on the study or work grind? All those exams involved in becoming a doctor take some serious work. This isn’t a career pursuit for the go-hard or go-home sprinter. It’s a delicate marathon.
Can you tolerate endless hours, weekends and holidays filled with clinical rotations or library-based study? What about the same process again when you’re out the other side and finally in residency?
It’s a road that doesn’t stop.
5. Long Term Thinker
How willing are you to forego short term gratification in focus of larger goals? That’s what it’s going to take when you wake up bleary eyed with a mountain of work in front of you. If you can resist the urge to sleep in, slack off and stay off the midnight sauce then you’ll have a lot of what you need to make it in med.
Simple memorization isn’t enough? Have to go deep on whatever it is you’re learning? Great. That’ll serve you exceptionally well.
Your ability to stay curious and link everything together is a huge asset. Something that can help you picture complicated diagnostic signs together and rise the ranks of a hospital fast.
7. Science Lover
Although you don’t have to be great at science to shine in med school an enthusiasm to learn certainly helps.
Every med school curriculum has hard science at its base. Don’t even think about going down that road if the thought of learning biology, physics or chemistry makes you fall asleep. You can be nervous or intimidated sure, but no way will you survive if you simply have no interest in knowing more about such subjects.
8. Not Afraid to Ask For Help
If you can put your ego aside, swallow your pride and put your hand up for help then you’ve another tick in the box. The road to becoming a doctor is littered with things you’re yet to learn or know. The ability to admit you don’t know something (and ask for the right way to do it) is critical.
9. Keen Listener
Without the ability to want to listen you’re likely to run into hard times. From patients telling you their concerns and complaints, to doctors instructing you to take action, you’re going to need to take in what others say.
And if you already enjoy hearing random strangers talk about their problems? Congratulations! You’re halfway to becoming a doctor already.
10. Watchful Observer
Find yourself looking for the finer details in things and wondering if all is in order? That’s the natural observer in you. It’s also a quality that can make you very effective in medicine given that so much of it is about seeing what’s in front of you.
11. Problem Solver
Clinical cases are a lot like detective work. You need a foundation of knowledge and then you apply that knowledge, bringing all the differentials into account. Eventually you arise at a solution to the problem; placing a diagnosis or establishing a treatment plan.
If you like solving puzzles and working towards solutions then this is the path for you.
12. Socially Comfortable
You don’t have to be the most extroverted person in the world but it helps to at least be able to talk to people. People in medicine come from all walks of life. Finding things in common with them shouldn’t be too much of a chore.
Most specialties involve spending a lot of time with others.
There’s no effective medical treatment without a hardworking team in place. If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty, working alongside others and pulling together for the greater good then you’re golden. Remember that others need help too.
14. Occasional Leader
You don’t have to be a natural born leader but you shouldn’t be totally averse to the prospect of having to stand up and take charge once in a while. Due to the way staffing works in healthcare and tasks get done in med school? Occasionally it might fall to you to get the job done.
Don’t be frightened of your own shadow.
Yes it’s a rather obvious one but you can’t just let your emotions or ego run wild if you’re thinking this might be the job for you. Responsibility is needed at every level. Nobody else can force you to do all the studying, take all the exams and show up and work when called upon.
If you’re the type of person who’s already proven that they can make it out on their own? That’s another crucial sign.
Without having respect for yourself and your fellow man you’ll get found out very quickly embarking down this road. Colleagues won’t want to work with you, patients will complain about you, it will just end in a mess. You can’t go into this type of career with any prejudice and expect to be a success.
17. Emotionally Intelligent
Sometimes it’s the things that go unsaid that matter the most. In healthcare this is an important point. Especially with patients too embarrassed or too ashamed to open up.
If you’ve got a natural way of reading between the lines and assessing a situation, not just when it comes to patients but also professors and classmates too, then you’ll for sure be a welcome asset.
18. Able to Detach
At the same time you’ll need to be able to remove emotion from the equation when it gets too much. Failing to do will only lead to burnout and a resentment of the craft. So make sure you can leave things firmly at school and work before you contemplate life as a doctor.
Without the capacity to want to help people you’ll quickly get tired of the journey. The days, weeks and years add up and you’ll wonder what it’s all for. If you don’t have a solid bottom line; or the line doesn’t involve some aspect of helping others, then that’s a good sign you should look at doing something else.
The best way to instil optimism and hope in the people’s lives you’ll touch through med school (and your career) is to show confidence and competency in what you’re doing.
You don’t have to be super confident by any means going in. But you should at least have a quiet belief that you’re capable. It’s a sign that ties in nicely with that of resilience, persistence and endurance.
Confidence can pretty quickly get displaced as arrogance among med students who aren’t careful. That’s why it’s also important to be humble. It’ll be something that grounds you and ingratiates you to others, making people easier to work with in the long run.
22. Strong Work Ethic
To survive some of what I’ve already mentioned you can’t be work shy. The act of cheating in med school, or taking shortcuts once a doctor, can have severe consequences. There’s no way around getting to the end goal without putting in plenty of hard work.
Nobody’s going to crack the whip for you unless it’s yourself. Your teachers? Aren’t there to motivate you. The only person who has the potential to make med happen is you.
If habit is already a part of your daily routine and straying from it leaves you feeling sick, then that’s again very good news.
24. Detail Orientated
You don’t have to be overly OCD to blitz through a MBBS on your way to working as a physician. But you can’t be totally absent-minded either. Being somewhere in the middle is a good sign. Organised enough not to miss deadlines but not so much that you’re no longer adaptable.
The changing face of the environment has no place for such rigidity.
Do you track things in a calendar or prioritize your work and goals? If you do then you’ll find it a big advantage on the route to becoming a doctor.
26. Not Money Motivated
Contrary to popular belief, it’s going to take you a while to earn decent money in medicine. Several years at least.
It’s important that’s not a huge priority for you going in. Otherwise you’ll only be on the fast-track to disappointment. Especially when you see your non-med friends pulling in more than you.
27. Unafraid of Sacrifice
Becoming a doctor takes years. In that time you’re going to miss out on a lot of things. Even more so if you’re a mature med (like me) who’s giving up family time, marriage and a whole bunch of other things to pursue a dream.
If you’re not willing to do that then walk away now.
Are you the type of person who wants it all now? Do yourself a favor. Give up now.
Becoming a physician takes the best part of a decade. The journey is repetitive and the days bleed into one. Just as much as endurance, patience is key.
Without it you’ll soon be going mad.
29. Demand Respect
Have the desire to be respected and praised for your work? Although it doesn’t promise it, medicine offers more chances than most.
If it’s important to you to be valued by society in that way, then take it as another surefire sign that this might be for you.
Lastly, you’re going to need to be at least a little creative to deal with all the problems that a journey like medicine throws up. Especially when it comes to making what can be a boring dirge (the endless onslaught of exams, rotations and patient rounds etc), seem a bit more exciting.
Not all these signs will point in your favor when thinking about whether you should be a doctor. That’s only natural. Nobody can tick every single one of these off.
At the very least though they’ll give you something to consider. A little insight into what I see, at least, as things that can help center you on the decision.
Image Credit – @impulseq at Unsplash
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in digital marketing and journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.