Click the pictures below and read about the different motivations to become a doctor.
Why I want to be a doctor: Perspectives from three generationsBeing a doctor can mean different things to different people, especially with the technological advancements facing the healthcare industry today. We have asked three generations about their motivation to become a doctor.
Phoebe Lander, 8-years old, wants to be a doctor when she grows up.
Why do you want to become a doctor?
I’d like to be a doctor because I’d like to learn how to cure people with things like cancer. I’d like to help people who are sick. If I learn these things then it’ll be a great thing to be proud of because I think it would be nice to think: “I cured someone who has been very sick!”
Is there a type of doctor you want to become?
Maybe an oncologist who helps people with cancer because I saw how smart the doctor who treated my mum was. She really helped her get better.
What do you think is the best thing about being a doctor?
I think the best thing about being a doctor is making people feel better when they were sick and seeing their faces when they are cured.
What do you think might be hard about being a doctor?
That’s easy to answer! Leaving my family, especially if I had children, to help people who don’t feel very well.
Maxime Maruzzi, 23 years old, fifth-year student at Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ) in the Paris region.
Why did you decide to enter medical school?
I wasn’t necessarily interested in medicine as a vocation, I had more of a fascination for the functioning of the human body, the scientific aspect of diseases and the different ways of curing them.
How do you think medical care in France compares to other countries?
I’ve rarely had the opportunity to experience medical care abroad. Having said that, Western European healthcare systems seem pretty similar, each with their own minor differences. I think that in France the patient is very well taken care of. They’re given a role in medical decisions and reimbursed fairly.
Digital technology has had a huge impact across industries – how has digitalization impacted how you work? How do you think it could potentially change healthcare in the future?
Digital technology significantly improved diagnostic techniques in the late 1970s, which has allowed for diagnosis of a huge array of pathologies in a non-invasive way.
Digital medical records are a means of improving patient care. They’re already being used to a certain extent in France but in my opinion, not enough. A centralized record of consultation reports, imaging exams, biological results or other diagnostic procedures would save time and provide access to data that is often missing or lost in paper files.
Do you think that the education you’ve received so far is useful? Do you feel it prepared you for the real thing?
Medical studies are tough in France but they’re also well-structured and take place in three cycles. The first two are three years long and the last is between three and six years long, depending on the specialty. I’ve already learned and achieved a lot through my studies, despite only being halfway through. Over the years we progressively study less theory in favor of time spent practicing in the hospital. We do this independently but are often supervised by doctors and interns from the different specialties too.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about what I do has been acquiring through experience the ability to quickly recognize an emergency situation. It’s also been learning how to reassure patients and direct them towards the care they need. To me, the duty of care and the doctor-patient relationship that is born from it remains essential to my practice. My ability to empathize continues to strengthen my willingness to take care of patients better.
Is being a doctor how you thought it was going to be? What do you think are some misconceptions?
I’ve only really had the chance to reflect on this since starting work at the hospital. One thing I have noticed is that, at least in France, there is a surprisingly large amount of specialization. There are countless specialties within specialties and it’s hard to choose a path when so many are open to you.
Dr. Graham Sole, qualified from University College London in 1976 and then studied Urology in Birmingham and Leeds gaining the higher degree of Master of Surgery in 1988. He was appointed as the first full-time Urologist in Hereford in 1988 and has developed a special interest in prostatic surgery.
What do you think would attract more people to become a doctor?
The issue is how best to attract and select candidates who will be happy and willing to work full time for 35-40 years. At present, we are failing to do this in the UK. Many doctors retire before they are 60 or are not returning to full-time employment after having a family.
I believe we need to look at criteria other than school qualifications to select students for medical school. Not all doctors need to be top of the class. It’s difficult to select candidates who really understand what it takes to work in the National Health System (NHS) as few have had more than a token exposure through work experience. Many of the best doctors I have worked with have entered medicine as mature students.
A controversial idea may be to expect candidates to have worked in some capacity within the caring professions for at least a year before applying to medical school. This would ensure that prospective candidates have more life experience.
What do you like most about being a doctor? What is your fondest memory during your profession?
I enjoyed working in surgical teams throughout my career, being taught and teaching others. Introducing new surgical techniques to my hospital carry my fondest memories.
Caring for patients with chronic conditions over decades was a great pleasure.
What is the most difficult part?
Working outside one’s competence is always stressful but without it, you would never progress, so finding the correct balance is the challenge. This has improved beyond measure over the last 20 years since the Bristol Children’s heart surgery enquiry.
In emergency situations, there will be occasions when you alone need to make a critical decision for a patient and if you are not prepared to take that responsibility a medical career is not for you.
What do you think are some misconceptions that medical students have about being a doctor?
I think they underestimate the volume of work that must be done in limited time.
As junior doctors, they are protected from over-work to some extent, by the European Working Time Directive (WTD). However, as their career progresses, peer pressure leads to them opting out of the WTD and many do not slow down until a major issue or personal crisis occurs.
What advice would you have for people entering the profession?
Take a year out after leaving school to get a better idea of what a career in medicine entails. Once qualified do not be afraid of taking time to explore a number of specialties before selecting your career choice. There is the misconception amongst junior doctors that if you do not progress quickly you will miss the consultant ladder.