Updated: Jul 15
As I write this in the middle of a stretch of night shifts I realise that sometimes we all need reminding just how amazing being a doctor can be. So I am writing this as much for myself as I am for all of you. I remember being an aspiring medical student aged 17, being advised on my work experience not to pursue medicine. Then growing up as a medical student I heard much more of the same from exhausted junior doctors and sometimes even consultants. And now I’m in a position to tell those more junior than me what it is truly like to work as a junior doctor in the NHS, and honestly, I love it. Don’t get me wrong, the job is difficult and there are days where I may briefly question my decision, but even on those days I can come out feeling happy with what I have chosen and those I have helped. But it’s not enough to just tell you it’s a great job, in true doctor fashion I’ve compiled a list of all the things I love (that hopefully you will grow to love too). So here it is, the 8 reasons I love my job and am constantly grateful that I didn’t give up when everyone around me advised me to:
1) You are actively helping and contributing to society.
This one might seem obvious and a little cheesy, but knowing that every action you take in a day is to try and care for someone better and make their life a little bit easier is incredibly rewarding. You may not see the direct impact of your work straight away, but when you step back you realise just what a positive impact you can have.
2) It’s a very interesting job.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand human biology is not everyone’s cup of tea but to me the study of medicine is genuinely fascinating. The human body is so intricate and there are so many things even the greatest minds are yet to figure out. You can read countless textbooks about a given disease then see a patient present in a completely different way. Which brings me to my next point….
3) Its challenging
Even those who graduate top of the class will at some point face difficult decisions. Whether you prefer to diagnose, investigate or treat, every step in a patient’s care brings new challenges and new opportunities to learn. And that takes me nicely to…
4) You are constantly learning.
There’s a reason even consultants need to be regularly evaluated and stay up to date with their knowledge, and that’s because the world of medicine is constantly and rapidly evolving. The treatments we used 10 years ago may become obsolete in the future, which means there are endless opportunities to learn new things and stretch your mind. And hey, at least that means you’ll never be bored.
5) No two days are the same.
I’ve worked a few different jobs as part of my rotations, and sometimes you wonder if working the same job for 4 months will become repetitive. But the beauty of working as a doctor is every patient is different which means every day is different. On a typical A+E shift I can see anything from broken bones, to heart attacks to blood clots, all in the space of a few hours!
6) You meet people from all walks of life.
Being a doctor means you’re working with people all the time. Those people may be your colleagues, other team members or your patients. In my foundation training I’ve met people from every corner of the globe, some with absolutely fascinating stories to share.
7) You get to work in a team.
Some jobs can end up being very isolating, especially in a pandemic where the majority of the country is working from home. But in the NHS you are always working with people and in a team. There are all sorts of teams at work, such as multidisciplinary teams comprising physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses, pharmacists and many others. During the pandemic where across the country people were battling loneliness and isolation, I was grateful to go into work to see my colleagues and friends, and to get through the tumultuous time together.
8) There’s something for everyone.
A lot of people worry that choosing medicine at the age of 17 means you have chosen your career for life. What you may not realise is that there is so much variation between all the different career paths available as a doctor. Not only are there a huge number of specialties to choose from, but you can also choose to go into sectors such as education, policy and leadership. Whatever your personality trait, you will be sure to find something that suits.
So that’s my list. I know throughout your career you will meet people who do not share my passion for the job, or who may even regret choosing medicine as a career. But when you hear those stories, remember this post, and remember that for all the bad, there is still a lot of good and if I were 17 again, I would still pick medicine every time.
Dr Shree Vadera, WPMN Doctors Rep.