Setback Sunday: Do You Really Want To Be a Doctor?

Surprise, guys, it isn't anything like Grey's Anatomy!

Oh, so you’ve decided to become a doctor? You’re ready to cut people open and get up close and personal with blood, illness and the hectic routine that all doctors casually talk about over breakfast.

Good for you!

Oh, wait. Haven’t you thought about the blood yet? Or the flesh? Or the wounds?

Welp. Time to consider what it really means to be a doctor. If you were like this author and basically grew up with dramatic, captivating TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, ER, House etc. polluting your reality with sunshine, rainbows and the promises of an exciting life if you enter the world of medicine, then this author is about to burst your shiny bubble. Sincerest apologies.

At the tender age of fourteen, yours truly discovered why she couldn’t be a doctor. Ever.

It was an interesting development for someone who had dreamt of becoming a doctor ever since some random kid in her class fell ill, sweat running down his face and blood trickling down his nose. This author had always wanted to be witty and keeping up with this spirit meant she just had to say something about this entire ordeal.

And she did.

This author went to a teacher and told her to give the poor guy a Panadol. The teacher must have thought this simple task to be the mark of true genius and thus the myth began. You always wanted to be a doctor since you were a child.

Or, did I?

You see, prescribing paracetamol that one time does not, in any way, mean that you want to be a doctor. It means that you knew about the medicine only because of the medical expertise of all Pakistanis. Panadol can cure everything. Similarly, giving someone a medicine and hearing they’ve completely recovered after your diagnosis does not make anyone a doctor. It meant you got lucky. Surprise!

Alas, this author, being the impressionable child that she was decided to be a doctor until she turned fourteen and discovered the true meaning of medicine.

If you only want to be a doctor because your parents want it, or your grandparents want it, or the auntie with the house in the corner wants it, then don’t bother. It won’t be interesting and it definitely won’t be a chance to learn. Instead, you’ll find it cumbersome and will feel weighed down by everything which in turn will not make you a very good doctor; you will have a stable career but your heart won’t be in it and practicing medicine is just like practicing arts; you need to feel as if it is your ultimate purpose.

If you’re squeamish and don’t like the sight of blood, putrid wounds or bones then you’re out of luck! Being a doctor means being rational, calm and having a spine of steel; you’re going to be looking at humans who have been brought down by their illnesses, who have sores and wounds full of pus.  You’re going to be using sinister surgical tools to make incisions and cuts on someone’s body. If you want to wear an immaculate, white lab coat, sip tea while discussing the latest developments in gossip office and examine people from a distance then you need to reconsider your options, folks!

If you’re set on becoming a doctor, purely out of a love of medicine and humanity, I applaud your courage and resilience. Being a doctor means actually caring about the lives of people and understanding the responsibility that comes with your practice, it doesn’t always end up well and people will sometimes die in your care.

If you’re not ready to deal with the concept of death and life in a manner that doesn’t interfere with your personal life, then the profession is going to drain your soul out of you. Don’t become a doctor simply because it seems cool or all your friends are doing it or because you can’t be bothered to pick something out for yourself. Very few people actually develop an interest in medicine after studying it for a year or two and the chances of that happening are really low. Don’t take the odds to be in your favor. They usually aren’t.

Medicine isn’t about long, scientific jargon that you can use to impress your crush, it isn’t about fulfilling a dream that isn’t yours and it is definitely not something you practice just to brag about it to every random person in the street. It’s a learning process. One that wants you to be fascinated about nature and its simple yet intricate workings.

As someone who has a lot of friends that now regret choosing medicine as their profession simply because it does not interest them or motivate them to get up from bed every morning or to even learn something new, this author would want you to consider what it really means to be a doctor before dipping your feet in the hot, difficult waters that we call a medical school.

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