Do you have what it takes to become a doctor?

Eye-opening hospital work experience
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Becoming a doctor is not an easy decision. Time, perseverance, expense and commitment are just some of the factors that you need to weigh while making a decision to become a doctor. In addition to all this, you have to also consider the compromises you will have to make in terms of your family and social life. Are you prepared for all the hard work you will have to put in and the sacrifices you will have to make in order to pursue your passion for medicine? This is not a career for everybody. Medicine is a special career and it takes a special kind of person to become a professional in this field.   

A student taking a patient's blood pressure in a Tanzanian hospital. If you are struggling with making up your mind about a career medicine and determining whether it is right for you, the first thing to do is take a realistic look at what it takes to get there and what a doctor’s job really is like. Do some introspection and get to know yourself better. Ask yourself the below few questions and can see if you tick off all the boxes:

-Do you have the right personality to be a doctor? Are you considerate, caring and empathetic towards the sick and the injured?
-Do you have the perseverance to complete the six years and more of studying and training?
-Do you truly have a strong desire to help people without being prejudiced against those from a different culture or those who speak a different language?
-Are you academically strong and do you have the ability to get outstanding grades?
-Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices in terms of time and your social life, to get through medical school and residency?
-Are you a good test taker?

Some individuals know that they want to become a doctor right from a very young age. For them, the decision is simple. They chose a straight path into medical school, never hesitant or considering any other career choices.

For others, making that decision is not so straightforward. If you belong to this category, you must do some soul-searching, take a closer, unbiased look at the profession, and an objective look not just at your own personality but also your abilities.

How Can You Know For Sure?

Medical school is long, tough and expensive. Before you take this huge step to embark upon a career in medicine, there are a few things you can do to make sure you are on the right path.  Spending some time shadowing a physician in a hospital or private clinic will give you a realistic look into what life as a doctor really is like. Another fantastic way to get the real picture of this profession is by doing a medical placement in a resource-poor country. Take the opportunity to go on a Gap Medics organised medical placement to Tanzania, the Czech Republic or Thailand where you work in local hospitals alongside medical professionals across different specialties. There’s no better way to get to know the ins and outs of this profession and to get a firsthand experience of the immense satisfaction that comes from helping the sick and saving lives. After an experience such as this, you’ll know for sure whether or not this is or isn’t the right profession for you.  

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