What motivates people to become doctors?

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When strumming your fingers across your desk during school and college, you undoubtedly mused about your career prospects and what you could potentially be doing in a few years time. Many people describe beginning a medical career as a pure vocation, whilst for others, it was a fascination with science that initially drew them to med school application forms. Interestingly, Drew Young Shin, a Clinical Assistant Professor in Paediatrics and Cardiology, stated a very different reason for wanting to join the esteemed medical profession: competition.

Commenting on social site Quora, he explains “If I were to be completely honest with myself, I think my fierce competitive nature drew me to the challenge of medical school.  I distinctly remember reading about the dauntingly impossible statistics for applicants and instead of intimidation, I thought ‘I can do this.’  Perhaps not surprisingly, many of my medical colleagues also share similar stories of having a dominating feature of their childhood rooted in competition whether as an athlete or musician.”

Joining the ranks

Medical student Abdul Kareem agrees with the driving notion of wanting to be the best leading him to consider medicine, however he also says “It was a gut feeling- a combined feeling of wanting to be different from the majority, having a job that also involved some service to people, a profession more human than mechanical, a job that had both mental and physical work, a career that gives you certain amount of respect in the society, and much more. But above all that, was the desire to be above all others, among the best, and I’ve found this to be true with many of my colleagues.”

Fellow medical student Komang Shary takes a more humanitarian view of the profession, claiming that working as a doctor makes you a better all round person. “Medicine deals with humans, not computers. It requires you to be empathic with patients. That alone is enough to sharpen your skills in interaction. You will also be reminded of death in every step you take, so you’ll be more cautious with your actions,” she comments. Retired GP Steven Ford however believes his successful career in medicine was all down to a vocation, stating “I had never considered any alternative – for reasons that I do not know to this day, I simply felt impelled in this direction.”

Why did you decide to become a doctor? Do you agree with the opinions shared here?


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