Should you study medicine? Although this chapter is mainly aimed at helping you get a place at a medical school, the degree of your commitment to medicine is so important, not only for achieving this but also for dictating whether you will enjoy a career in medicine afterwards, that I make no apology for starting by asking you again to think carefully about whether you really want to study medicine at all. If, having examined yourself and your motivation thoroughly and honestly, the pros do not easily outweigh the cons of a medical career for you, then I earnestly entreat that you seriously consider another career.
The ideal doctor should be not only knowledgeable about the human body and its diseases, but also compassionate and sensitive to people’s feelings and have a burning desire to help people. The aim being to make a positive difference to people’s lives, the doctor should be highly dedicated and committed to medicine, be very hard-working and conscientious, and have the highest integrity. You will need to be reasonably intelligent, with a retentive memory and an enquiring mind. You should want to know how the body works – but also be an articulate and sensitive communicator with very high personal standards of morality. You will need to have great energy and good organizational abilities, and to be tolerant of fairly long hours and hard physical labour. In addition, you should be able to cope with sometimes horrible people and often horrifying emotional traumas.
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