The question that is almost guaranteed to come up in your medical school interviews and the one which people dread giving a textbook answer to – Why medicine?
I remember when I was practising for my medical school interviews, this question really took some thought before I could nail it. I am going to take you through the steps I took to get a solid but unique answer to this question.
Answering the ‘Why Medicine’ question summary
- Almost guranteed to come up in your interview
- Start from within yourself – why did you choose Medicine?
- Who or what inspired you to study Medicine?
- How did you confirm for yourself that Medicine is right for you?
- Do you understad what being a Doctor entails?
- Why Medicine and not nursing/pharmacy/dentistry?
Why do you want to study Medicine?
You need to start by asking yourself what triggered you to think that Medicine might be for you. There are lots of reasons people apply to medical school and want to become a doctor. I will give some examples of these below but if you have more or different reasons for these, make sure you say those (they’re more likely to be an uncommon answer too!).
One of these may be an experience you or someone close to you had with a doctor. Think about this situation and why it made you think about medical school as an option for you.
Sometimes, there is a twist to this aspect, and unfortunately, something might have gone wrong in doctors’ care. Some applicants use this as a reason to want to be a doctor so they can be a part of changing this.
Parents as role models
Another reason some people may have is their parents are doctors. This is not a bad reason to pursue a career in Medicine. But what was it about your parents and their profession you admired to get you to where you are now?I wouldn’t use this as your sole reason. But if it is a part of you, don’t feel you have to exclude it from your answer.
Medicine as a subject
Think about the content of Medicine. Saying that you have always had an interest in science is okay but then why wouldn’t you go into research in another degree? What are the topics and skills that medical content contains that interests you? Some examples of these that people use are problem-solving and the extensive range that Medicine covers.
One part of the answer that every person interviewing for medical school will give is helping people. This isn’t an answer to avoid because you don’t want to sound cliché.
Part of being a doctor legally is doing the best for our patients. You just need to make the answer exclusive to you. You will probably have some experience (in person or virtually) that you carried out before applying for medical school. Use this in this part of the answer to explain how you helped people and how they made you feel.
A major point at the moment is COVID. For some of you, this may have sparked your interest in Medicine. As long as you can relate it to yourself personally, as in the other reasons above, this is a valid answer too.
Moving on to the next step…
What did you do next?
Now you’ve told the interviewer what sparked your interest in Medicine, and you need to explain what you did next to confirm Medicine was right for you.
Life as a Doctor
You may have had the opportunity to speak to a doctor or watched interviews with doctors talking about their careers and lifestyle. It is important you know what becoming a doctor entails and that you highlight this in your interview. Doctors have a lot of responsibilities so think about how you’ll tackle these.
Negatives of the medical career
When researching more about Medicine, it won’t have just been positives you came across about the career. There are also some negatives too.
It can be a high-stress job at times, training can take a long time and sometimes you need to be flexible with your working hours. In some areas, these are also relevant to medical school too.
Show your interviewer that you are aware of these potential struggles you may come across and have put thought into how you will deal with these.
This might include things you do to help you destress. Do you exercise, like go for a run? Do you schedule and spend time with family and friends?
These are lots of different ways people relax, and if you are not 100% sure about what yours is yet, don’t worry. You can try a range of ways until you find one that’s best for you.
Experience in the field
As well as speaking to doctors, you may have also had some experience in the medical field. This can be linked to the ‘What prompted you to want to do Medicine?’ section of the question.
During this time in a hospital, general practice, care home, even online, wherever you carried out your time familiarising yourself with the medical environment, you will have experienced scenarios that consolidated your interest in becoming a doctor.
Think of a situation that you related to and how it cemented your choice of Medicine.
So, you’ve spoken about what inspired you to do Medicine, and you’ve shown you know what becoming a medic entails. Remember, you are not expected to have answers to all the problems you might encounter on your path to becoming a doctor and being one.
This is your chance to say what things you need to improve on and expand your knowledge on.
This will only make up a small portion of the question, but it is good to think of this in advance. It shows the interviewer you actively think and look back on experiences and then adapt and better yourself.
Why Medicine and not nursing/pharmacy/dentistry?
A slight adaptation to the Why Medicine question is ‘why medicine and not nursing/pharmacy/dentistry?’.
The most important aspect to remember when answering this question is to stay entirely respectful of other medical professions. Acknowledge that there are other members of the medical team. Without them, the job of a doctor would be extremely difficult, and we would not function without them.
Everyone is of equal importance in the team, and we just have different roles to fulfil.
Familiarise yourself with these roles
Make sure you know the roles of nurses and pharmacists. Lots of nurses train and fill leadership roles, so saying that you want to become a doctor because of the leadership aspect is not entirely right.
Remember, doctors do have to take responsibility for the care of a patient, so they usually are the final component in a decision.
The educational pathways of nurses and doctors are slightly different. In Medicine, you usually spend a few years learning in-depth about diseases and their pathologies. Whereas in nursing degrees, you train and learn skills carried out day in and out on wards. This means you learn a lot more about the biology of the body in Medicine and then put it into practice later.
Why medicine – Final thoughts
This question can be a difficult one when you have not prepared for it properly. But with the right groundwork, it will be one of the easiest questions you come across in your interviews because you already have the majority of your answer in advance.
PRESENT THE BEST YOU AT THE INTERVIEW