Embarking on a career in medicine or as a choice for further education is exciting and brings many great opportunities for the future. Though, it can be difficult to know ahead of time if it’s the right choice. Here are some questions you may be pondering, which might help you decide!
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Medical school can take anywhere from four to seven years, depending on the university and course. Some students choose to study a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree first, meaning the study pathway can take longer.
Once you have finished medical school, you often start working as a junior or intern. In Australia, most people work in this role for two years. After this, you can then decide which areas you would like to continue working in and the skills you want to develop.
Training to become a specialist can take three years or longer and during this time, you will be working and studying at the same time. There are specialist exams and tasks you’re required to do as part of your training. Some training programs can be competitive to get into and will require experience in specific areas.
Studying medicine enables you to learn interesting and intricate information about the human body and illnesses. You will come to understand how the body works when it is healthy and what happens in different scenarios of illness and injury. If you are curious to know more, maybe medicine is a good fit for you.
Being a medical student or a doctor means patients and their families will share personal experiences and confidential information with you. This is a gift, as you are trusted to provide the best medical advice, practice and compassion during the highs and lows your patients might experience.
3. What challenges should I expect?
There is a lot to learn and put into practice when you study medicine. Many students find the workload can be a lot to manage. Discovering strategies that work for you early on will help you keep on top of learning material and managing your time effectively. It is also important to strike a balance between study and taking time out for yourself.
Expect to experience challenging social and emotional situations whilst studying and working in medicine. You might find yourself having conversations about relatively new topics. Patients might have illnesses, injuries and life experiences that are unfamiliar. You will quickly learn lots of new skills in communication that will help you navigate this new territory.
Valuable skills include learning how to be inquisitive but not judgemental and how to show empathy and understanding. These skills are transferable to other areas of life, which your friends and family will most likely love you for!
4. What options do I have after finishing medical school?
There are lots of different pathways available to you after finishing medical school. Possible careers can include working in general practice, surgery, emergency or specialist medical fields. You can explore different areas while on placement and as a junior doctor to find out what your career interests are.
It’s good to try out all different fields, as it makes it easier to work out what you like and what you don’t. The best way to find out if something suits you is to give it a try!
You can also be involved in research work on how we diagnose, manage and treat disease. There are also many management roles which benefit from having medical training. As you progress through your studies and training, it is a good idea to talk to supervisors and mentors and receive personalised advice to help you work out what the best career pathway is for you.
5. Talk to family, friends and mentors
Your family and friends are the people who know you best and may be able to offer advice that will help you decide. They know your interests, strengths and weaknesses better than most people. It also helps to discuss your ideas as it can help you work through all the thoughts you might have on future possibilities.
Talking to a mentor or people already studying or working in medicine can give you a reasonable idea of what to expect from your future career. They will be able to share with you their advice and experiences to help you work out whether medicine is the right path for you. They can also answer any niggling questions you might have too!