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10 Reasons I Decided Not To Become A Doctor

I nearly applied to medical school, but then had second thoughts. Here's why:

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I recently applied to university to read International Relations and Arabic. This was a U-turn from Medicine, which I had wanted to apply for only weeks previously... I went through the whole process, so you don't have to.

1. It's not like on TV

New York Times

I was under the assumption that being a real-life doctor would be a little bit like 'The Mindy Project' where I could spend time socialising with my cool co-workers in NYC after my move there, and generally live a cool life in an awesome office. Well no. The hospitals where I did my work experience were as modern as it comes, but nobody was socialising: the doctors were either asleep or grumpy. And their offices? A few rows of computers and not a lot else.

2. 7 years is actually a really long time


5 years at med school, 2 years foundation and then who knows what else? In that time you could be doing anything, and could be earning a lot more than the salary of a junior doctor.

3. You don't really know where you'll end up

You don't get the choice that initially it seemed like you would. I thought that it would be possible to choose to live in London somewhere without trouble, or even to move to the US if I wanted to. It's just not that simple: chances are you'll get your only job offer from a distant and unpleasant land in the north of England.

4. You're a doctor and that's it


Ok well that's not entirely true: maybe you become a consultant, maybe you start lecturing but either way, the paths are clear. What I love about life is those surprises that shape who you are and your career. I'm so much happier with my current choice, and I only found out about that by chance. I hated knowing exactly where my life might lead, but hey: some people love that.

5. It's so competitive

A*AA? No thanks, sorry not going to happen. The application process, the admissions tests, the personal statement, the work experience all to make yourself more attractive to the admissions board. When I got my results, I'd already decided not to apply. Good thing too, I didn't get those grades!

6. You have to care about people. Like, really care.


In order to be good at this job, you have to put your patients' happiness before your own. This would be really easy for some people, but it's perfectly fine to not want to live your life like that. There are other ways to be amazing.

7. You're tested constantly throughout your career

It takes a lot to become a succesful doctor, and this is tested frequently by exams and appraisals. While job security won't be a threat, I think most people would rather not have to life in fear of the next exam, especially not if you won't even progress because of it.

8. You'll have to work shifts at times you never thought existed


Did you know that there's a 3 o'clock that's at night? Well there is, and as a doctor becoming familiar with the early morning is going to happen. I can't live like that, but some people get a kick from it.

9. The constant paperwork

Via flickr

Every time a doctor does anything short of washing their hands, they have to write about it to cover themselves. This sucks because all that time they use filling out forms could be spent doing something really crucial.

10. Patients will die and there's nothing you can do about it

Sometimes you can't save someone, obviously. But having to tell families, coping yourself.. it would be too much for me, and for a lot of people. It truly takes an empathetic and understanding person to deliver such bad news and it must make you feel terrible.

There are lots of reasons to become a doctor. Sure: the pay, in the end will probably be quite good, and I bet you end up working as part of a pretty great team. Hospitals are exciting places and the buzz of rushing around is hard to replicate.

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