Becoming a doctor is by no means easy, but it’s also not the soul-crushing experience that a lot of people make it out to be.
Here are 5 common misconceptions about becoming a doctor.
- You Have to Be Smart
- You Have to Be Rich
- You Won’t Have Any Time
- Medical School & Residency Are Miserable
- It’s Not Worth It
1 | You Have to Be Smart
Many people believe that you have to be incredibly smart to become a doctor. Although medicine tends to attract intelligent individuals, becoming an effective doctor isn’t just about brains.
Oftentimes, the information you learn in medical school isn’t difficult because of what you’re learning but rather how much of it you have to learn.
This is why you’ll often hear students compare learning in medical school to “drinking from a fire hose.” There’s a lot of information to learn and not a lot of time to learn it. As such, doing well in medical school has less to do with how smart you are and much more to do with your study strategies, time management, and work ethic.
I’ll give you an example. One of my good friends is a brilliant guy. He skated through high school and Harvard with minimal studying. He was able to rely on his excellent critical thinking and reasoning skills to perform well. Once he got to medical school, however, he didn’t have the work ethic to study and found himself in the bottom quartile of his class.
This is why it is incredibly important to hone your study strategies and time management skills during your premed years. If you don’t have a strong foundation by the time you get to medical school, you’ll be in for a rude awakening.
2 | You Have to Be Rich
The next misconception about becoming a doctor is that you have to be rich.
The cost of medical school tuition in the United States is approximately $50,000 per year for public schools and $60,000 per year for private schools. When you factor in the cost of living and all the other expenses during your four years of medical school, your total medical school expenses can easily exceed a quarter of a million dollars.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American earns approximately $1,041 per week which equates to roughly $54,000 per year. And even then, most schools do not allow students to hold a job during medical school. As such, the vast majority of students cannot afford to pay for medical school outright.
That being said, there are many financial resources available to help students pay for medical school – regardless of their financial background. This includes financial aid, scholarships, grants, and student loans.
3 | You Won’t Have Any Time
Misconception number three is that you won’t have time for things outside of medicine. Contrary to popular belief, your social life doesn’t end once you start your medical training.
Becoming a doctor is often viewed as something that will consume your entire life. You’re told that you won’t have time for sleep, friends, or relationships, but this simply isn’t true.
While your academic responsibilities will be much greater during medical school and you will be working long hours in the hospital and clinic during residency, you will also be doing fewer extracurriculars than you did during your premed years. Overall, you’ll have less time, but it’s not nearly as bad as people make it out to be.
I was able to make time to go out with friends a few times a month, balance a relationship, get 6-7 hours of sleep each night, and stay active. I was also able to start two businesses at the end of medical school, one of which was Med School Insiders.
It’s all about being efficient with your time and making priorities. You need to schedule time for both socialization and relaxation, and the most effective way to accomplish this is by being intentional with your time.
If you set aside two hours to study, be sure to focus and study. But if you set aside two hours to spend time with family or friends, be fully present and enjoy yourself. There’s no point in trying to combine work and play. You end up not getting much done and not feeling refreshed in the end.
4 | Medical School & Residency Are Miserable
Next is the misconception that medical school and residency must be miserable experiences.
Although you will undoubtedly experience long hours, sleepless nights, and difficult obstacles on your pathway to becoming a doctor, I believe that it’s all a matter of perspective. Sure, high school was carefree and easy and college was all about exploration and becoming independent, but medical school and residency offer something unique.
Unlike high school and college where you spend a great deal of time studying subjects that have little to do with your future career as a doctor, in medical school pretty much everything you study is highly relevant – which makes the material much more engaging.
Of course, you’ll still have some subjects and classes that you’ll enjoy more than others but at least you don’t have to do mandatory English classes or other general education classes that feel irrelevant to your future career.
You will also be surrounded by some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet. I was constantly in awe of the diversity, talent, and character of my fellow medical students and residents. We had former Olympians, highly accomplished artists, mountaineers who had climbed Mt. Everest and so much more. And because you’re with people with similar life ambitions and goals, you’ll make many close friendships that will last a lifetime.
Medical school and residency also offer a unique opportunity for self-growth and development. You’ll be forced to grow in many ways through the pressure cooker that is medical training.
Your resilience will develop rapidly to handle the rigors of medical school and residency. You’ll find yourself pushing the limits of your productivity and efficiency and building systems to get more done in less time. But most importantly, you’ll be forced to face important questions about who you are as a person. You’ll become familiar with your strengths but you’ll also grow intimately familiar with your faults and hopefully learn from them to improve.
I became who I am today because of my time in medical school and residency. I developed authentic confidence, knowing I could accomplish just about anything I set my mind to. I grew more efficient, productive, and intentional with my time and energy. I explored dating and what I wanted in a life partner. I confronted fears like public speaking and overcame them. I loved my time in medical school and residency and I think that, with an open mind, most people can too.
5 | It’s Not Worth It
Lastly, many people believe that becoming a doctor is no longer worth it. Although it’s true that medicine isn’t worth it for everyone, it is still a great choice for many students.
Becoming a doctor can be immensely satisfying. You have the privilege of using your extensive medical knowledge to help your patients through some of the most difficult times in their lives. In addition, the responsibility you have to your patients often pushes you to become a better version of yourself.
When I look back to the person that started medical school at 21 compared to who I am today at 31, I’m grateful for the experience and how it’s shaped me over the years. Without that pressure and forcing function, I wouldn’t have learned much of what I did and I wouldn’t be the same person I am today.
Medicine is a great career and is definitely worth it for many students. That being said, it is important to understand the ups and downs of being a doctor before committing to the career. This is why we spend so much time discussing the pros and cons of medicine on this channel and trying to bridge the gap between expectations and reality.
Being a doctor is a special profession for a special breed of person. If you’re set on becoming a doctor, we want to help make your dream become a reality. We offer the highest quality, systematically designed courses and services to help you become an effective doctor.
If you’re a premed, check out our Pre-Med Roadmap to Medical School Acceptancecourse, which lays out a customizable template with high-yield content to help you craft your college career and set yourself up for a medical school acceptance.
If you’re further along in the process, our How to Ace the Medical School Interview Course will help you put your best foot forward and maximize your chances of securing that sweet sweet acceptance. Additionally, all courses come backed with a 100% 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you are not satisfied for any reason, let us know, and you’ll get a full refund.