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So you want to be a doctor, but is it even worth it?

By Omar Allam
On February 11, 2013

If you're one of the 20,000 undergraduate students at UConn you most likely have a career in mind, whether it is urban planning, nursing, or even medicine. Likewise, if you're serious about your potential, you probably have had second thoughts about what you want to do in the future, and often think about whether or not your career choice is right for you
There is no magical algorithm for determining the right job for you. Although there is no "right" career for anyone, there are a lot of wrong professions for certain people. Lately, I've noticed that students are choosing medicine for the wrong reasons, in my opinion. I am just a student who questions and tries to apply the answers to his problems to society.
The field of medicine attracts a lot of students for several reasons ranging from "wanting to apply the scientific knowledge acquired " to the cliché "wanting to save lives." And there are a lot of pseudo benefits to being a physician, such as wealth, admiration from the public, and a guaranteed perfect lifestyle that attract students.
A retired Swiss radiologist once told me that "people see medicine as a spectacular dwelling, but only when they do enter the house medicine do they realize that hell they've gotten themselves into."
Nonetheless, a lot pre-medical students, when asked why the want to pursue medicine, will tell you that they want to go into medicine because they "want to save lives," but who doesn't? Usually, there is an underlying cause for spitting out this knee jerking "saving lives" response, a cause that most people will not explicitly state. This cause ranges from wanting approval from parents or society, such as the case with a lot cultures, or job security. Nonetheless, they have decided to pursue medicine due to something they lack, and not because they enjoy the potential of practicing medicine. And, if you truly due "like saving lives," and you insist on committing your life to saving people, then there are a lot of more practical ways of "saving lives" such as politics. One statute, preventing war, can save hundreds if not thousand of lives.
Now, if you're going into medicine because you want to be filthy rich, cross medicine off the list right now, medicine is not for you. There are many more efficient/sleepless free careers for attaining wealth. The amount of work you put into medicine in respect to your salary is not very appealing, and should not be the reason for wanting to pursue medicine.
Nonetheless this should not discourage students at looking into medicine, as a career. I've always seen medicine as an amazing and admirable profession. There are so many great aspects of medicine, such as understanding the relationship between the healthy and the sick, and connecting the relationship to a cure or the art of being able to place your hands inside the mechanics of the human body, to alter nature's mishap to a better more efficient structure, and nothing in the world can beat that.
My recommendation to pre-med students is to keep your minds open, do what you love whether it is chemistry or poetry and structure your life about what you find interesting and not just medicine. If you really want to be physician for the right reasons, you'll realize that medicine will come to you. Be honest to yourself and go out and experience the world before committing yourself to a very very long ride.
 


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