HOW TO FIND THE ANSWER YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR
One of the most complicated questions we all had to answer. How do I know if I really want to become a doctor?
Before you hit submit and apply to intimidating med school programs or before you announce it to your family —who might think it’s all a pipe dream anyway, “Hey, mom, I want to become a doctor”, you have to figure out if that’s even what you want to do.
Choosing your career is such a big decision, and it’s difficult to know where to start. Some people are unsure if they want to be a doctor bad enough that they’re willing to sacrifice the time, money, and effort it takes for medical school.
There’s a ton of online research you can do to find out what it takes to be a doctor, but how are you supposed to decide with your heart if you want to be one?
Too many things to think about, which makes it difficult to decide if becoming a doctor is right for you
I know. I’ve been there.
It’s so hard to know if you’re going to like being a doctor and if becoming one is really what you want to do. It’s aspirational —helping people, maybe even saving lives. It sounds so rewarding, but it’s hard to know if being a doctor is all it’s cracked up to be.
There are so many things to think about, like how hard medical school will be for you or if you’ll make the cut. You might even be thinking about how medical school and becoming a doctor will affect you starting a family. These are the same concerns that everyone has, making it difficult to think straight and feel confident about their decision.
When you have all these thoughts (so many thoughts) running through your head, the first thing you need to do is take a breath. Might sound cliché, “to pause and take a breath”, but when you’re constantly thinking over and over (and over), and still can’t come to a solution, it’s time to try something new.
Instead of battling all the what-ifs, the best thing to do is get quiet.
Quiet? Yes, get quiet. Let your brain settle down. It didn’t find the answer when your thoughts were racing about, trying to decide whether or not you should become a doctor, so let’s try something else.
Accept that you don’t know.
But know that you will figure it out in time.
TIP: Take one week from trying to unveil your destiny about becoming a doctor and sit with yourself.
Every morning spend 10 minutes feeling thankful for all that you have. Before you dive into the future, let’s take a moment and admire the present—so many great things. Your health, your loved ones, your plants that make the living room feel alive, the pet that greets you when you walk through the door, the hobby you love, and anything else you can think of that makes you happy and grateful.
Taking stock of what you have at the moment helps release the pressure about what needs to happen next. It removes you from the clutter of unanswered questions.
In the evening, spend another 10 minutes getting quiet —thinking of nothing, focusing only on your breath. Listen to your breath in and out, and every time your mind wanders off —which it will, bring it right back to your breath. This is a form of mental exercise, and it takes practice.
Clutter causes confusion, confusion causes fear, and fear causes doubt, which leaves you in a state of immobilization.
If you want to come to a confident decision about whether or not you truly want to become a doctor and take on medical school, then you need to gain clarity. The evening exercise of quiet breathing will continue to help you clear your mind to begin to see things more clearly.
Thinking about becoming a doctor makes you feel overwhelmed, even though it’s been your dream.
Just because you’re feeling overwhelmed when you think about becoming a doctor doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue your dream. Most often, feelings of overwhelm result from fear, doubt, and uncertainty. Of course it’s scary to think about medical school, tests, competition, interviews, and having a patient’s life in your hands. But if deep down you are so drawn to the idea of helping people, understanding diseases so that you can cure your patients, or helping people live better lives, then here are some ways to not let fear, doubt, and feeling overwhelmed stop you.
Turn “I don’t know” into “Look at her go”.
Tip: Find inspiration in other doctors and medical students on the road to becoming a doctor.
Seek out physicians who have a similar story as you. Learn from them. Watch how they succeeded in their medical school career or in their current career as a doctor. Find them on social media and use their story as inspiration for your own.
You can even hunt down medical residents and follow their stories.
When you see how others got through their medical school journey and what it was like for them to become a doctor, you learn that it’s possible and you can do it too.
Finding inspiration in other people’s experiences is motivating and builds confidence. It reinforces that pursuing any dream is a challenge and also completely achievable. If they can do it so can you!
Becoming a doctor is a challenge you can handle.
Is you becoming a doctor a fantasy, or is it something you really want to do?
It’s ok to admit you’re unsure if you really want to become a doctor or if it’s just a romantic fantasy that you’ll hate and want to quit once you start the hard work.
It’s in the back of the minds of many.
Being a doctor is a hard job.
It’s a rewarding job that throws challenges and joys your way at every corner. Becoming a doctor is also a long road, one that so many people from all walks of life complete.
However, as you know, anything incredible takes work to achieve. So the question is, are you going to like medical school enough to keep it up? Are you going to be ok with hours and hours of studying and weekend activities missed due to an upcoming exam? Is four then eight years of school what you see in your future? I know those are the questions you’re asking yourself, we all did.
tip: Take the facts about becoming a doctor that you’re learning online and put them to the test by living the life of someone who is or is becoming a doctor.
What this means is, get yourself in character. Volunteer at a hospital. Witness what goes on in a hospital or medical office setting. Ask to interview family friends that are doctors or even one of your family practitioners. Gather as much real-life information as you can.
Typically physicians love to share how they got where they are or offer advice about what they might do differently.
Imagine yourself as a doctor or as a medical student. When you move through your day, you could say to yourself, “if I were a medical student, I’d be doing ‘this’ right now,” and picture yourself doing that thing. How does that feel to you?
After doing this for a few weeks or even months, you’ll know in your heart if it all feels right.
Becoming a doctor is a big decision for you, so let it be that way. Analyze more than just the thoughts in your head.
- Clear your mind with quiet breath and meditation.
- Get inspired by other physicians or med students so you can learn about the journey, failures (because we all have them), and successes.
- And lastly, put yourself in the life you dream of leading. Imagine yourself in the career you want and in all the steps it takes to get there. It’ll help you sort through what’s a “romanticized vision” and what’s real and true to you.
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