I guess the best place to start with this blog is with the probably the most commonly asked medical interview question there is: Why do you want to do medicine?
For those of you finishing school and thinking about doing medicine, this is a question you will be asked over and over for at least the next few years, not just by other people, but also by yourself, so it’s probably a good idea to have an answer!
Everybody’s reason for going to do medicine is different and can be very personal in some cases. Somebody I know at uni started to be interested in medicine once she learned that she was born quite premature, and I’m sure there’s plenty of other stories like this flying around. In my experience, a lot of people don’t seem to think they have a particularly good reason. I know that I didn’t have a particularly good reason when I applied to medicine and I would say that if you’re writing your Personal Statement for UCAS at the moment, please don’t copy ideas for why you wanted to medicine from a search engine. After I applied to medicine I heard stories that there were something like 14 people who applied to the university of dundee (UoD) saying that they started to consider a career in medicine “after their house went on fire when they were 13 years old”. Now I’m not sure what the stats are for house fires in the UK, but this seems a bit suspicious to me. Whether this story is actually true or not, the message still stands.
My reasons for doing medicine are quite bland, and in no way original. I liked science at school, was generally quite a caring person and enjoyed learning. Also, after doing work experience, I could see myself doing it. I basically said this in my personal statement, obviously in more words than that! So, don’t worry if you’ve not been in any house fires recently…
Another thing that people seem to worry about is that some people applying to medicine have wanted to do medicine since before they can walk, and people who come from a family of doctors. More power to those who have this sense of vocation, but for me, I definitely didn’t have this calling. I decided I wanted to do medicine at the start of 5th year at school (my 2nd last year at school – not sure how this converts to the english system of schooling – 5th form, if there is such a thing?). This was just in time to motivate me to get the grades I needed to apply and also just enough time to get some work/shadowing/voluntary experience to give my personal statement a boost. I guess these are subjects which I’ll pick up on later. My uncle is a doctor, but I definitely didn’t have doctoring shoved down my throat as a child and never saw anything of him being a doctor as I grew up either, so I don’t think this particularly influenced my decision to become a medic either.
I guess I’m trying to say that you don’t need an original reason to be a medic, and you don’t need to have wanted to be a doctor all your life, and you definitely don’t need to have a doctor in the family either. Hopefully this is reassuring to some of you. For those of you that do have an original idea, have wanted to do it all your life and/or have a doctor in the family – definitely use them as reasons for wanting to be a medic, they certainly won’t hurt!