So why do you want to do medicine?
One of the most difficult questions for any budding doctor to answer is why they want to be a doctor. It’s a difficult question to answer, even by the most committed pre-med students.
The most sincere answers end up sounding terrible, full of clichés and false notes.
However, any student planning on applying to study medicine MUST have a very good answer prepared for this crucial question. It will be needed for the personal statement as well as every single medical school interview.
A badly planned answer will cause your application to fail at every hurdle. Your application form may end up in the rejected pile, and if you do make it to a medical school interview your answer may well get dissected and torn apart.
As an interviewer, I’m on the lookout for people who say things such as, “I want to become a doctor so that I can care for people.”
The obvious retort by any unkind interviewer is, “Why not do nursing then? Nurses care for people don’t they?”
Most answers can be shot down in this way and that is why it is important to have a planned answer that can let you stand out above the competition.
So what is the key when asked, “why do you want to be a doctor?” or, “why do you want to study medicine?”
In my view the best candidates give an answer that has the following qualities.
1. It tells a story
Start with the story of how you first became interested in medicine. Everyone likes to hear a personal story and nobody can argue with your life story. It will also be unique to you and help you stand out.
2. Make it multi-faceted
So you’ve told your personal story, but don’t forget to include how various factors in your life came together to make you want to do medicine. Even if your interviewers raise issue with one of the points you make, each point is only part of your story so they can’t easily dismiss your whole purpose for wanting to be a doctor too easily.
3. Avoid things that will upset your interviewers
At the end of the day you are trying to persuade your interviewers that you are suitable for their medical school. If you mention an interest in making lots of money, or gaining a lot of respect in your community they will think you’re doing medicine for the wrong reasons. Even if these are part of your reasoning my suggestion is to avoid them altogether.
4. Show you have a realistic idea of the course and career
Mention actual experiences of working with doctors or watching doctors at work as pivotal to your decision to study medicine.
The easiest candidates to reject are those that have the wrong idea about what they are letting themselves in for.
What you have learned from seeing other doctors should have inspired you to study medicine. Give actual personal examples as again, these add individuality to your answer and your medical school admissions team need something interesting to read or listen to after all the boring repetitive statements we have to put up with!
In summary, people have all sorts of different reasons for wanting to study medicine. You must make sure your answer obeys the simple rules above in order to succeed and to beat your competitors.
Medical school admission is difficult and most people fail to get a place. Getting your reasons for doing medicine sounding right is a large part of becoming a success. Remember that the first step to becoming a doctor is getting into medical school, and the first step in preparing for that is articulating why you want to study medicine.