Do you have what it takes to become a doctor?
The idealisation of medicine as a career choice has reasons that are hard to beat. So much so that it is easy to be blinded by the promises and trivialise the hard work it requires. Thus, there are a few questions we must ask ourselves first.
Firstly, think about whether the subject matter actually interests you. If you harbour any negative feelings towards human biology, both theory and practicals, it's best to take a step back without any further thought.
Next, assess whether you'll be able to live the life of a medical student, as it is usually a thirteen-year long commitment. The misconception that one is only a student for the five-year period of the MBBS degree is unfortunately quite common. The requirements to become a full-fledged doctor of a specialised field include years of mandatory internships with negligible pay followed by several post-grad degrees. And only after that, one could expect to see financial rewards.
This assessment is twofold – first is an evaluation of your incentive.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with money being the primary incentive behind your career choice, medicine may not be the best option in that case. Good money often appears very late into your career, if it does appear at all.
I say that because in Bangladesh, the income of doctors varies over a huge range. Several factors play into deciding your income. Some of them are which post-grad degree one pursued, how high one scored at each stage of their studies, whether the pupil has received work at a public or private hospital along with a fixed income or even the number of patients one looked after.
Not only does financial success require patience, but if you are someone who is expected to take on financial responsibility for your family a few years into your career, this is a risky path to take. For some, pursuing medicine solely with a monetary incentive increases the risks that they become involved in medical malpractice.
If you want meaningful work and to help people, medicine is a valid consideration. One could opt to work in healthcare or venture out to offer their services in social services and nonprofits. Nonetheless, do consider if you'll be able to simply make it through the long years of study without any lasting negative repercussions to your health and well-being.
Evaluate your academic life so far. Are you okay with a few years of your life passing by as a transitory period to eventually work your dream job? Unless your answer to this question is yes, it is definitely worth considering other options.
If you're on board with taking on the challenge, it might help to be aware of the following facts before making your final decision.
To begin with, in Bangladesh, a considerable time will pass before you are able to see and interact with patients. That is, not till you've completed your second year. Getting into an MBBS program will not immediately set you up for life. The first two years will be theory intensive, and will mostly cover basic science.
At the end of the day, it is down to whether you have a strong personal motivation to achieve an outcome that is mostly exclusive to being a doctor.
Amrin Tasnim Rafa is a high school graduate.