Reddit is a great place to go to for ideas.
As a place for (largely) anonymous commentators to answer any question they see fit, it’s got several useful communities for doctors, nurses, med students, pre-meds, and everyone in-between.
The platforms’ answer to the med school admissions staple; “why do you want to be a doctor?”, has lots of surprising, thought-provoking, and yes, not always serious, comments.
So I thought I’d document some of the more stand-out examples in one place.
But here’s what else we’ll cover:
- How to best answer the question
- Common pitfalls
- Why your answer is important
Ready to learn more? Let’s go.
“Why Do You Want To Be A Doctor?” The Question
Before diving into some of the answers, you first might be wondering; “why the fascination?”
Almost all schools require prospective students to answer some form of the “why be a doctor” question. Or at least answer it in interviews.
It’s something that can help differentiate one candidate from another!
Coming up with something other than the obvious “chicks, money, power and chicks” (an answer epitomized in the TV show Scrubs), is apparently quite challenging though.
Which is why many pre-meds are desperate for more creative help…
“Why Do You Want To Be A Doctor?” Reddit’s Best Responses
1. You Get to Wear Scrubs and a White Coat
Scrubs are comfy and the closest I’ll ever get to wearing pajamas to work.u/therealcaptaink
I like the apparel (the coat is nice).u/ThugNoodles
In people’s minds, doctors who wear scrubs with a white coat and a lanyard are thought to be more trustworthy, caring, knowledgeable, and approachable. Doctors need to show their ID regularly with lanyards. The lanyard seems to be the only accessory in the doctor’s gear. Customized lanyards will make our doctor’s outfit a little different. They can be designed in different colors, materials, images, or functions. Personalized but perfect for the scrubs with a white coat.
2. You Get to Be a Medical Detective
Medicine is like being a science detective, which just sounded like the most awesome thing to me. People may say research could do that too but in research I don’t get as quick gratification as in medicine, nor would I get to interact with different people all day.u/theJexican18
I see one of the biggest differences [between nursing and medicine] as the leadership role. Physicians have to coordinate and lead the care team and make decisions about how to proceed, who to consult, and take into consideration the input from all of the other members, as well as the patient, when forming a treatment plan. There is also often an expectation of a leadership role in the community, and a level of respect that comes with a lot of responsibility.u/seagreen835
4. Autonomy and Responsibility
You want more autonomy and responsibility because having the patients life in your hands is a humbling and rewarding experience for you. Nurses don’t always get to follow the health of a patient completely.u/SpartanPrince
The money and prestige are definitely there, but I want to become a doctor because its rewarding.
My mom told me become a doctor because you’re smart and you can help people and make lots of money. But biomedical and stem cell research sounded increasingly interesting to me. After going to uni and seeing for myself that the process of research is utterly slow and painful I realized that as interesting as research was it wasn’t for me.u/trollwarIord
6. You Get To Teach
My fundamental drive to do healthcare is about helping people, but I also want to maximize the impact that I can have. If I can teach residents, conduct research, and help change protocols that non-physician providers use daily, I can have a much bigger impact than I can as any other kind of healthcare provider.u/teehee257
7. Deep Knowledge
I want to be the person in charge of formulating a plan, and I want to have the deepest knowledge of a particular subject. In school, I hated reading stuff like, “…X is beyond the scope of this course”.u/steve_enoki
8. Give Back to the Community
I grew up in a rural community where the physicians and health care providers did a lot to serve our schools and sports teams. Coming from a small town, everyone looks out for one another and it was something I want to emulate in my career pursuits.u/TheRealistDill
The chance to connect with people over things that actually matter to them, every single day.u/oddlebot
10. Flexibility and Diversity
A perk of being an MD specifically is that you can do whatever you want in terms of science. You can practice, do clinical research, start a basic science lab, work for pharma and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I view MD as an all access pass to the amusement park that is the world of medical sciences.u/youngpremedandbroke
You can also start interesting businesses in med school too. Here are 10 business ideas for medical students that could help inspire you.
Longevity of career. You have the option of working until you’re physically incapable without the fear of being irrelevant or traded in for younger/less expensive hire (happens in many industries)u/apanda320
12. To Improve the Image of Doctors
I want to be a doctor because I want to treat people in a way that no doctor has ever treated me or my family.u/saltsugars
13. Security and Income
The best combination of job security and high income. I had other careers in mind, but with medicine any average joe possessing a good work ethic can become a physician.u/obamamd
14. Opportunity to Work Anywhere
It’s one of those jobs that’s in high demand and there are opportunities to practice all over the world.u/HFpEF
15. Education and Challenge
Why doctor over pharmacist, nurse, PT/OT, dietician, or any other healthcare provider? I enjoy learning and the high cognitive demand of medicine. I want to have as much as possible a significant impact on patients.u/anonymous
16. Better Than An Office Job
I recently had this conversation with a friend of mine – it feels more like life’s work than an office job. I know many people work to live and support their preferred lifestyle, but I want to have a larger purpose. I’m sure that’s why they call medicine a practice and an art; similar to artisan’s, your life is dedicated to its pursuit. I imagine many healers in tribal cultures embraced this feeling and understand it.u/anonymous
17. Inspired By Family and Friends
I’ve been stuck on it for my entire life to be honest. When I was very young, my dad would tell me stories about his dad (who was a paediatrician), and from that I was completely inspired to be a doctor. Additionally, every interaction I had with doctors (as a patient) reaffirmed my belief that doctors were awesome, and that I wanted to be one.u/applemazzle
18. Satisfies the Morbidly Curious
I dislike surgical procedures (except I&D’s) but any procedure that involves a needle or cannula fascinates me. It is just so satisfying on a simple level to place a needle inside the lumen of a vein. My mind goes blank and it feels meditative; it’s therapeutic for me in addition to the patient.u/smell_B_J_not_LBJ
19. Useful In A Zombie Apocalypse
There are a lot of reasons, but my first and weirdest reason is that it seemed like a really solid skill set to have in case of a societal collapse and emergence of a barter economy.u/filliamhmuffin
And if you’re really stuck for ideas here are even more answers from a bunch of UK students…
You can always count on Reddit to be a real source of both genuine (and sarcastic) answers. But even the sarcasm has some truth to it!
Hopefully, some of these responses can help give you a more interesting take on the question.
How should I answer the question; “why do you want to be a doctor?”
The best way to answer it is to be as honest and real as possible. Think deep about all the potential reasons it appeals to you and focuses on those that are unique and personal. Avoid the stereotypical and superficial answers (more on these later)
Why it’s important
Answering the question well can really help differentiate you from other candidates. Your job is to look for a narrative that shows you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the career. And that you’ve openly examined your suitability for it.
Communicating these things can go a long way to convincing admissions committees to choose you over the next candidate.
Clearly, you’ll want to avoid the common pitfalls. Even if they’re partly influential in your decision, it’s probably best to stay away from the following reasons:
- Family Duty
These reasons don’t really express that you’re empathetic or well-balanced enough to be a fundamental part of a healthcare team. They’re also rather obvious.
Thinking outside the box, and being as personal as you can, will always make for a better approach.
What to think about
Some things that often work well when helping you come up with your answers:
- Meaningful encounters (with doctors, or as a patient etc.)
- Sources of inspiration/fascination
- A deep understanding of the role (and the importance of doctors)
It’s often a good idea to think about all periods of your life when weighing up the question. Not just your recent experiences.
Why did I choose the medical profession?
My own personal reasons for choosing medicine are complex and fairly unconventional. I came to the decision later in life, after thinking it was off the table to me for most of my academic years!
My story is detailed in the article below…
Why do you want to be a doctor and not a PA?
Being asked this question, admissions committees are expecting you to know the difference between the two roles and have considered both carefully.
Expect to be asked about each’s individual roles, what their typical day looks like and why that is (or isn’t) a “good fit” for you.
Why do you want to be a doctor and not a nurse?
Again, you’re going to want to communicate in your essay or interview that you’ve thought about the two roles carefully and know the details of each.
The following article has some good ideas if you need further inspiration!
If you enjoyed this post, you might find the following articles useful:
- How To Study In Medical School: Reddit’s 26 Best Tips
- How Hard Is It To Get Into Medical School? (Reddit’s 19 Best Opinions)
Image Credit – @dimhou at Unsplash
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in 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.