Every year medical schools around the country will receive 4000 - 5000+ applicants each for a limited number of positions. As someone who holds one of these coveted places I’m frequently asked by students ‘how do I get in?’ ‘what grades do I need?’ ‘what should I say in the interviews?’. No one ever asks if they should go into medicine. I sat in a classroom a few weeks ago and we discussed an important fact: the majority of us are not happy, the majority of us regret going into medicine, if we knew when we were applying what we know now, there’s no way we would make the same mistake again. To those school leavers about to finalise there university preferences - think hard about what you will be forced to do.
Don’t think that if you have strong academics that will be enough to succeed in medicine. It doesn’t matter how smart you were when you’re surrounded by the smartest students in the world you’re lucky if you’re in the middle of the pack. The crushing reality is if you aren’t among the top achievers of these top achievers, say goodbye to any dreams you had of being a paediatrician or a neurosurgeon - it’s the GP family practice life for you whether you want it or not. They will feed you dreams of specialty grandeur until you’re so far into the course it’s too late to turn back and then shove the fact you will only amount to this down your throat so hard you realise you have no choice, there’s no going back now. Even if you happen to be among the best of the best - you have to have the right extra-curriculars, the right references, know the right people, or you’re done.
Be prepared for the fact that even if you do anything right they will still screw you over. It doesn’t matter if you’re a scholarship student, if you do research with leading experts and have a great job. Guess what they’ll force you to move to the middle of nowhere isolating you from all of your friends and family, forcing you to quit the research which was critical to your CV and forcing you to give up that livelihood you spent months trying to line up that actually fit with the limited time you have off. If you have the galls to complain about the fact this isn’t professional suicide but rather professional murder, you’ll get a ‘professional behaviour notice’ that will stay with you for the rest of your academic career further preventing you from any path but the family practice route.
When it comes to the family practice route most of you will be forced into - know what you’re getting into. Think medicine is about diagnosing and treating illness? Think again. Be prepared for paperwork, social issues and lonely patients who are just their to waste your time. If you got into medicine for the science… well just don’t go into medicine for the science. This is the kind of thing that you’ll have to deal with all through medical school and your junior years because the reality is the only job as a student you perform is to talk to the patients - which is a total waste of time and will get you nowhere. You’ll be forced to do this everyday because “patients are experts in their condition you must learn from them”. I’m pretty sure an expert in a liver condition wouldn’t say “it’s ok though you have 2 liver’s and only 1 of them is stuffed up”.
Be prepared for the disgusting things you will have to do and the amount of time you will be forced to do them. Rectal exams, manual evacuations, you name it - by the end of medical school if you haven’t been covered in blood, urine and faeces you aren’t doing it right. Think you won’t have to do these disgusting jobs because ‘you don’t plan on going into gastro’ think again, you have to do everything no matter what you want. You are their little show pony designed to write the notes, make the phone calls, beg for procedures that make you throw up because you’re required to do them, all whilst pulling a 60 hour week and paying a huge amount of money to do so.
If you go into medicine whether or not you want it to be that way your entire life will become about medicine and the reality is for the majority of you it won’t amount to you getting into a job you actually want to do. All of your time, all of your “vacations” will be spent doing medical activities to maximise your CV. You’ll lose most of your friends who aren’t in medicine - leaving you to make relationships with some of the most arrogant self-absorbed people in the world. When it comes down to it if you can deal with all of this more power to you, but be prepared for the fact statistically you won’t end up in a specialty or career you actually want. When we all entered university we were excited and hopeful for the future, I’d gotten in to medical schools all over the world and picked the best of my options. But even at the best of the best - medicine is a massive let down and probably the biggest regret of my life. For me it’s all about trying to maximise my options of side-stepping into a different career, for you, I hope by reading this you’ll have a greater awareness of what you’re in for and not make the same mistake we did.