Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor?

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“Why do you want to become a doctor?” — everyone

Every premed has heard this question at different times in their career. As an emerging premed taking your first biology courses you’ll hear it maybe from your adviser, who after seeing the bulk of premeds waiver on their doctor goals, they’ll ask because they know the premed lifestyle and requirements isn’t necessarily for everyone. Classmates rationalizing their choice to go with plan J will likely question you, even more intent on finding your flaws, convincing themselves by trying to wrangle in their logic of complacency. While volunteering at the hospital staff while either congratulate you on your kamikaze mission, or try to live vicariously through you by offering warm discouragements. Unless your parents are dead set on you going into medicine, it’s likely they’re starting to question your ridiculously long term plan, who could blame them who often do people commit to deferring an adult income for over a decade? If you do research, your lab mentor might ask why you’re signing up for a position with long hours, high stress etc. Premeds are asked this question so many times, that by the time it comes up again officially on the medical school application and interviews it may feel like you’ve found over three dozen reasons why you want to become a doctor — in fact your answers may evolve, as you often do, with time.

My answer on this changes, as I grow, as will most people I think.

 “Why become a doctor when you can make more as ___, and more easily?” — the doubter

My answer: I literally couldn’t do anything else. It’s easy to evaluate my idea of how much money means to me, because if I won a billion dollar lottery I’d still go to medical school — I’d just have a much better lifestyle while in school and residency.  Besides that, I’m professionally poor, so I don’t mind another decade on Top Ramen, it’s not for everyone (medschool and Top Ramen included).  If you’re in it for the money, power to you because I have no right to judge your motivations, if you save people you could be doing it pay for your peanut butter hoarding for all I care. As like most medstudents, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else, therefore I choose this.

“But, now that Affordable Care Act (ACA) is here, won’t you make less as a doctor since you’ll have an onslaught of patients and paid the same?” — the pessimist

My answer: I’m sure my answers will grow as time progresses on this. However, I signed up for this because I wanted to see patients, therefore having an excessive workload isn’t a surprise here. In fact, I’m pretty sadomasochistic, I enjoy the thought of being in the trenches with my fellow man. I’m sure slogging through long hours I might even have my flippant cynical response, everyone has a moment of weakness. But, I was a patient before I was a medstudent, as such I feel fortunate to be given the chance to reimburse medicine for how much time and money doctors/society spent saving me. It’s not that I’m above money, I simply have no clue what money is besides a bartering token, I’m wealth ignorant.  I’m lucky to get to do what I would gladly do for free and even take loans to do for a living (later). I will allow sanctioned molestation of my free time and sanity, I look forward to the weight, to pay it forward.

“Doesn’t it bother you to have to wait to have children?” — the oddity

My answer: why would it? I’m not sure where I stand on the children decision, but growing up as a poor one, I have a goal to not raise a child in the same position. People often treat me like I’m missing out on life when talking about kids, I’m not cynical about it at all. It’s just that, I choose to not have kids, just like others may of “choose” to have them. It’s hard to hear this question as a medstudent, as a postpone-r of attainment, people have even go so far as to treat me as if I’m ignorant on the happiness of life. But, I’ve often find these people move the goal posts about what constitutes happiness anyways. For myself, and many medstudents (or potentials), a child is a chose we’re willing to put off — I can hardly take care of myself, I shudder to think of what I’d do to a mini me (or her — me).

I was never good at Tamagochi pets (remember those, if you do, you’re old like me =X)

Do you have your own answers or opinions about this? If so, comment about how you’ve handled these questions.



4 thoughts on “Why Do You Want to Become a Doctor?

    Z said:
    February 27, 2014 at 1:45 am

    My reason: Because I was kick ass at raising my Tamagotchi pet! (Think 2nd grader waking up in the middle of the night to clean up my pet’s poop and feed it.)

    brainyloma said:
    March 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I get somewhat upset when asked about family and babies and I do feel I get asked that more since I am female, you are actually the first male I have heard get asked about postponing family. I just joke so I just joke that I am going to adopt a million dogs and never get married or have children, when in reality, I do realize it’s something that I consider a sacrifice, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      masterofsleep said:
      March 5, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      I get asked this, not so much from my family anymore, but from friends who already have children. I’ve been reminded many times about how “I’m missing out” by new parents. Interestingly, the experts, friends with kids after the puppy cuteness has worn off have told me it’s not rush haha. While I’m sure like cliche things people do, there’s probably a pretty rewarding reason. I would suppose one positive thing about having kids, although a bit backwards, is using children as a “call to action”. That is, having children and then realizing “on snap” I need to accomplish X goals. I just see it as already having that call to action about life, having come from a poor family originally I have no interest in repeating it on my own kids.

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