The world of medicine is as fascinating as it is intricate. It has so many fields and facets that people spend their entire lives learning how to navigate it. That’s why pursuing a career in medicine is not something that you can decide on a whim.
It will take dedication and careful consideration because you don’t become a doctor overnight. The average time it will take to become a full-fledged physician is 11 years, and that doesn’t include the 16 years you already spent learning primary, secondary, and tertiary education.
By those numbers alone, it’s safe to say that you won’t be a doctor until well into your 30s. That is a very long time to study and apply what you have learned, which is why you will need the determination to become a doctor.
Thinking About Being a Doctor Begins in Your Youth
Your fascination for medicine may have begun in childhood when you first played doctor with a toy stethoscope around your neck as you tried to listen to your stuffed bear’s chest. You might have imitated what the pediatrician did to you for your regular check-up.
You could also have developed your desire to study medicine when you first dissected a frog in biology class or conducted experiments with different chemicals during chemistry. High school is a great place to begin thinking about the future because you’ll need good grades to enter a good university.
It can be difficult to raise your grade point average for college when you’ve been enjoying your teenage years too much to care about the future. But studying well throughout secondary education, even in a virtual junior high school setup, is what can allow you to earn your pre-medicine degree.
Wanting to Be a Doctor is Strengthened in Adulthood
To get into a renowned medical school and become a med student, you first have to earn a bachelor’s degree. That means spending four years after high school to attend a university. And then four more years to undergo preclinical and clinical sections in medical school.
Considering that you entered college right after high school graduation and then med school after your collegiate graduation, you’re around 26 years old by the time you graduate from med school. You might be done with school, but the learning never stops.
Once you have finished earning your degrees, taking the medical theories to heart, and learning through observation, you will now be applying everything you have learned. This application of theories begins in residency, which is a mix between an internship and actual medicinal practice with supervision, of course.
On average, the residency program can take anywhere from three to five years, depending on where you take it. As soon as you finish your residency, you will have the option to take your board certifications or enter a fellowship program to further specialize in a field of medicine.
The length of the fellowship, should you choose to take it, highly depends on your specialty. But most fellowships can take anywhere between one and three years to accomplish; afterward, you will be a licensed physician who can treat patients without supervision.
Finally Being a Doctor
Once you have survived med school, residency, fellowship, and the boards, you can now proudly wear the white coat you have been dreaming of ever since you were a kid. At this point, you might be around your mid-30s and enjoying your single lifestyle or building your own family.
Choosing to pursue medicine and actually becoming a doctor are two very different things. Many people have vowed to chase after this career in the service of others, but not everyone has succeeded. This rigorous process often weeds out those in this pursuit of knowledge for all the wrong reasons.
There are plenty of reasons to choose a career in medicine — financial stability, job security, or personal gratification. But only one thing can get you through all these challenging obstacles and finish unscathed: passion. Your passion for serving other people will be the internal motivation that strengthens you despite the hardships.
There’s no sugarcoating it; pursuing a career in medicine is hard, and it’s exhausting. Even the most passionate people can get tired because medicine is a very demanding industry. There are always patients who need to be treated, and you have to accommodate them.
But it’s also gratifying to pursue a career that gives value to your life. You might not imagine yourself wearing a corporate suit and working a 9 to 5 shift, but you can see yourself working a 48-hour shift in the hospital. What matters is that you are confident in your abilities; never mind what other people will say.