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Medicine as a Career

Why Study Medicine?

The medical profession offers much to a young person. It provides an avenue for attaining satisfaction of many of the most fundamental human desires. Medicine can satisfy your intellectual curiosity; it permits you to successfully apply the enormous body of information that has been accumulated in recent decades to reduce pain and suffering and extend the average life span. At the same time, it presents the challenge of the many unsolved problems that await solution through laboratory or hospital work.

Medicine can satisfy your desire for human service by enabling you to bring help and comfort to others. Medicine can satisfy your desire to work in a profession that has prestige. While prestige is no longer granted automatically, it does come with the faithful discharge of responsibilities and obligations. Medicine can also satisfy your desire for a substantial income. This income, which is superior to that of most other professions, is earned by the long and difficult hours demanded of the physician. Medicine is a profession that can, to a significant extent, satisfy your desire for independent and individual achievement in a society that is becoming increasingly overstructured.

An MD degree and the completion of all three components of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) enables you to practice medicine anywhere in the United States. With this degree, you can care for people at all stages: you can bring them into the world, treat their childhood and young adult illnesses, help them deal with their middle-age crises, and assist them in coping with the increasingly frequent and troublesome illnesses of advancing years.

If teaching appeals to you, you can enjoy guiding the next generation of physicians. Educating medical students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows will enhance your own creative abilities and stimulate your own thought processes.

If you have a flair for writing, there is a vast potential to use literary expression in writing lucid scientific papers, analytic essays, or even nonscientific works. Just remember the background of Arthur Conan Doyle, W. Somerset Maugham, or Lewis Thomas, to mention a few prominent physician-writers.

Should laboratory work be more to your liking, with suitable postdoctoral training (or an MD-PhD degree), you may want to become involved in valuable research that can lead to finding cures for diseases and possible disease prevention. Much work is being done today in the field of genetic engineering, which impacts greatly on congenital disorders and various metabolic abnormalities.

Medicine therefore represents the broadest spectrum of opportunities for an individual to render service to others while at the same time attaining his or her own goals in life in a satisfying manner. Medicine provides the widest range of career options in a variety of roles, such as small-town doctor, family practitioner, specialist, superspecialist, clinical investigator, academician, public health officer, administrator, and varying combinations of these positions. Making the choice, rather than having the choice, is the issue medical students and residents face at some point in their training.

Bottom Line

The profession of medicine offers physicians many specific advantages. These include

  • • respect from patients whose lives they seek to help.
  • • an opportunity to gain much personal satisfaction by using one's knowledge, talents, and skills to enhance the well-being of others.
  • • the option of being able to select from the wide variety of possible career pathways that medical specialties and subspecialties offer.
  • • an opportunity to set up a practice in a wide variety of possible geographic locations and select the type of practice one prefers.
  • • being assured of receiving, in due course, a steady income that can provide a comfortable life.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesGuide to Medical & Dental SchoolsMedicine as a Career - On Being A Physician, Why Study Medicine?, The Reality Of A Physician's Career