Why do you want to be a doctor? This should be the easiest medical school interview question to answer; however it is commonly the most poorly answered. The truth is, there is no perfect answer to the question and avoiding clichés is difficult. However, these are my top 5 things to consider when thinking about how to articulate exactly WHY you are choosing to study medicine.
- What qualities do YOU have that would make you a good doctor? I think this is a great place to start. Knowing yourself and knowing how you could apply yourself in the healthcare setting shows an understanding of what a career as a doctor entails. Studying medicine is a long journey with highs and lows. It is unlikely to be a smooth ride for every student. What qualities do you have that give you the confidence to succeed and remain motivated?
- Are your parents doctors or have you had a personal experience that made you want to become a doctor? This alone is not a reason to become a doctor, however you can still use it as a starting point. The big question here is WHY, WHAT and HOW. Why has this sparked a desire to be a doctor? What exactly makes you interested? How has your experience changed your perspective?
- What have you done to explore how it would feel to be a doctor? With exam revision and extra-curricula activities, finding the time to gain work experience can be tricky. However I think this is THE most important thing you can do. This does not mean following a top consultant round a hospital for a week (although definitely use any opportunities you can!). It is important to gain experience with the ‘less glamorous’ side of medicine, for example care of the elderly or care in the community.
- Why do you want to be a doctor and not another type of healthcare professional? If you want to study medicine to help others, then that is great but remember that there are many professionals who help others (nurses, carers, teachers, etc). What makes the role of a doctor stand out to you? Using your work experience will help with this.
- Are you simply ticking boxes or do you genuinely care? This question may seen a little harsh but it has a purpose. I think it is very easy, especially at school, to simply follow a path because you are told it is right for you. Studying medicine is so much more than having ‘a passion for science’, it is exciting, dynamic and most importantly centred around patients. If you find yourself doing work experience, simply so you can put it on your application, reflect on your priorities and ask yourself what you really think you would get out of being a doctor.
The stand out theme amongst each of these thought provoking questions is how and why is your desire to become a doctor personal to YOU. Please do not be put off by these big questions, I’m sure many doctors themselves would struggle to answer them. They are simply there to get you thinking. Do not be afraid to be yourself, there is no right or wrong answer, only genuine or insincere.