Is medicine the right career for me?
It's often difficult to make a choice about studying medicine if you have little experience or insight into the medical profession.
Getting the appropriate insight and experience
Perhaps the best way to find out if you would be suited to a career in medicine is to spend some time in a caring role (such as a volunteer in a nursing home, hospice, school or other community setting). This will give you an insight into the skills required by individuals working in caring professions such as medicine. Work experience in a local hospital, GP practice or clinic may also help you decide if medicine is the right route for you but not essential- hospital- based placements might be tricky to acquire and
any role which will see you interacting with members of the public or vulnerable people will allow you get a sense of whether you may be interested in pursuing a medical career as well as providing useful experiences to draw upon in your application should you decide to apply for medicine in the future. Having a part time job and volunteering with local organisations are great examples .
Are you interested in the science of disease (and health)?
Being able to communicate and empathise with others is a very important skill for doctors but you should also have an interest in the sciences and human biology. If you're curious about the nature of disease, why and how things go wrong and what we can do to tackle these problems, then medicine might appeal to you!
Do you meet the academic requirements?
You will need a good academic record to study medicine and should be able to prove your proficiency in the Sciences (most medical Schools will ask for A-levels in Chemistry, Biology and one other subject although not all medical schools require 2 sciences so it's best to check individual university websites before making any decisions). If you've yet to choose your A-level subjects, it's great that you're preparing yourself nice and early for making choices about your chosen career path. It would be recommended to take A-levels in Chemistry and Biology to keep your options open for most UK medical courses.
A lot of people also have very personal reasons for wanting to study medicine. Maybe medicine has impacted your own life in some way or you have seen first hand the effect of medicine on the lives of others close to you. Equally, you might have very little experience of the medical world and this is perfectly acceptable too!
Some people have thought about medicine for a long time whilst others become interested much later on and there's no 'right' path to coming to that decision. You're also entitled to change your mind! Keep open minded and consider exploring exploring other courses even if it's just a case of ruling certain subjects out. You can always change your mind if you decide it's not for you but the earlier you start exploring your options the better.
Most importantly, give yourself time to talk to your friends, family and teachers and don't be afraid of asking lots of questions and doing your research!
Some more tips...
Below is a useful checklist if you're still unsure about whether medicine is the right choice for you. Consider the points below honestly to help you make the right decision.
You might be suited to a career in medicine if:
You want to make a positive contribution to the lives of those around you
You enjoy interacting with people and show empathy towards others
You're mentally resilient and want a rewarding career where you have the opportunity to make a real difference
You're prepared to study and work hard to succeed
You can keep calm under pressure
You want to work in a field which is constantly changing with the opportunity to continue acquiring new skills and knowledge throughout your career
You probably shouldn't be choosing to study medicine if:
you feel pressured into medicine by your family, teachers or friends
you don't enjoy interacting with others
you're not prepared for sustained and hard work
your main motivation for studying medicine is a good salary and the prestige of a medical career