QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE STUDYING MEDICINE
Before deciding to pursue a career in medicine, it is important to ask yourself these questions.
Many people choose to pursue medicine as a career with certain preconceived ideas of what it is like to be a doctor. It is important to choose medicine as a career not for the money or the status, but for the genuine interest in the field and the desire to help others. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are thinking of becoming a doctor.
Are You Ready for Long Years of Study?
A Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme takes five years to complete. Medical subjects require long hours of studying and memorising difficult terminology, followed by challenging exams and clinical placements. After completing an MBBS programme, it is compulsory for graduates to undergo two years of internship or “housemanship” (as it is called in Malaysia) at selected government hospitals and clinics. Upon completion, they can call themselves a medical officer (MO) and they then have to complete a mandatory three-year government service in local hospitals or clinics. Those who wish to specialise in a specific medical field need to pursue postgraduate education and training which can take up to ten years. Medicine is not a quick career path as being a qualified doctor or specialist takes years of studying and practice.
Does Blood Bother You?
People who feel faint at the sight of blood should think twice about choosing medicine as a career. Doctors are required to face all sorts of medical conditions and injuries on a daily basis. They need to master basic medical techniques such as drawing blood and stitching wounds of patients. Also, students are exposed to all kinds of medical conditions and diseases when they carry out their rotations in hospitals and clinics. However, fear can be overcome through appropriate amount of exposure. Those who are passionate about medicine but feel squeamish at the sight of blood need to deal with their fear first.
Are You Prepared to Work Long Hours?
At the beginning of their medical careers, doctors have to sacrifice weekends and say goodbye to regular working hours. After a usual shift, junior doctors are subjected to on-call sessions where they may have to work through the night, and resume their normal shift in the morning. This means going many hours without proper rest but still having the ability to stay focused and prepared for all sorts of medical situations. Therefore, you need to be prepared to work long hours and put in a lot of hard work at the beginning of your medical career.
Can You Handle Your Emotions?
Doctors have the serious responsibility of taking care of patients and making sure their health does not deteriorate. When it comes to emergencies, the lives of patients and their loved ones are in the doctor’s hands. The wrong diagnosis and subsequent treatment may have dire consequences for patients, the worst-case scenario being death. Therefore, doctors need to be objective and not allow their emotions to influence their diagnosis and treatment. They are also often confronted with disease and people in poor health. If their personal well-being and emotions are not managed properly, doctors can be burned out and mentally exhausted, leading many to quit their jobs.
The reality of being a doctor may come as a shock to some. However, it is still a viable career for those who are passionate, brave and selfless. If you have contemplated these questions and believe you have what it takes to become a doctor, visit www.mmc.gov.my for more information.