Imagine working for more than 30 hours straight with little to no sleep, rushing from patient to patient to deal with emergencies and having to be on your toes — both literally and figuratively — at all times despite the wave of exhaustion and lack of food and rest.
This is the life of a doctor. And it can be gruelling.
The fact that as many as one in five doctors unexpectedly leave the medical profession for greener pastures is a testament to how punishing this career can be.
If you are thinking of pursuing Medicine, is there a way for you to escape this statistic? Hear it from practising doctors who have been through it all and find out what words of wisdom they have for aspiring young doctors.
#1. Don’t do it for the money, status or glamour
Are you lured into the medical profession with dreams of making big bucks, owning lavish bungalows and basking in heaps of praise and acknowledgement? Unfortunately, being a doctor isn’t as lucrative or glamorous as you think, given that it will take you at least 15 years before becoming a specialist, which is when the money will start rolling in.
If fame and fortune are what drives you toward the medical profession, do yourself a favour and consider pursuing something else. There are many roads that can lead you to gold and glory – medicine is just one of them.
#2. Be certain of why you want to be a doctor
Fundamental as it may be, nothing is more important than pondering over the question “why do you want to be a doctor” again and again. Is it because of your burning desire and passion for helping people? Or are you merely doing it to fulfil your parents’ wishes?
The sacrifices that you will have to make along the way will be monumental. You need to have absolute certainty that this is what you want to do with the rest of your life.
#3. Get ready to work harder than you’ve ever had before
Doctors spend a large portion of their lives not just working to cure the sick, but also studying and training in high-pressure situations. And it’s for a good reason. After all, lives are at stake and one small mistake can be all the difference between life and death. The amount of toil and sweat that they have to go through is second to none.
The journey to become a doctor will test every ounce of your heart, body, mind and soul. Make sure you have the strength and resilience to push through.
#4. Seek opportunities to work in clinics and hospitals
You may think that you have a good idea of what a doctor’s life is like, but nothing beats experiencing it first hand. Being in a clinic or hospital to hear the sounds and witness with your own eyes the life of a doctor can be illuminating and help point you in the right direction.
If you find it hard to secure a part-time job or internship at a hospital, don’t give up. Say “yes” to every opportunity you can get to interact with doctors, whether it’s attending talks and events about the medical field or reaching out to distant relatives and acquaintances who are doctors.
#5. And even if you’re sure, it’s important to reconsider again
Overwhelmingly, many of the doctors we spoke to urged all aspiring doctors to truly think long and hard before pursuing a career as a doctor. Remember that the financial investment will be huge, the sacrifices numerous and the pay less than desirable until much later on in life.
If you find yourself still wavering, here are 5 life-changing questions to ask yourself.
But ultimately, the work of a doctor can be extremely rewarding
Yet, in spite of all the challenges, trials and tribulations, these noble heroes tell us that the work that they do can be exceedingly fulfilling.
We hope this has given you some insight on the journey to becoming a doctor. If pursuing a career as a medical professional is truly your calling, going in with your eyes wide open will hopefully increase your chances of success.