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'Why do you want to study medicine?' - How to ACE your Interview

"So why do you want to study medicine?" This one question stumps every medicine applicant.

Some may have a prepared answer, an incredulous tale of experiences in during high school, facing adversity from chronic illness, a family member with an incurable disease.... all of which drove you to choose medicine as a career.

This a big question and has to come from YOU! Everyone will have a different answer because everyone has lived a different life. But there are four things you should tick off when giving a complete and comprehensive answer.

  1. What have you experienced in your 16/17 years of life?

    Everyone has different experiences. You may lived in Sydney your whole life with a cushy lifestyle in the lower north-shore. Or you may have lived on a property on the South Coast, growing up with cattle and livestock. What have you experienced? Was their chronic illness in your family? Did you have experience with rural medicine?

    This should not be forced. Deep down, there is a reason why you want to be a doctor. Think carefully about this.

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  2. What do you know about the medical profession?

    Everyone wants to become a doctor to fix a problem. What is the problem that you saw and decided that being a doctor was the best solution? It may be because you wanted to see a particular specialist or seek a particular operation, but there were none in your area or your state. You may have been affected by the a lack of rural specialists and want to become a rural doctor to fix this issue. Consider what you know about the medicine and demonstrate that you know the issues facing the profession.

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  3. Don't hold back

    You know why you want to do medicine now. You have told your interviewers what you know about the medical profession. Now express this in a way that is quintessentially YOU. Be passionate, be emotional, be enthusiastic. Interviewers are professional BS-meters and can differentiate authenticity vs BS from a mile away. So be authentic. You don't have to speak particularly eloquently or sophisticatedly. Just be YOU.

Money and status... Are these red flags?

There are many many ways to answer this question. But first, lets delve into the demons we have when answering this question.

Money. If you want to become a doctor for the money, then I'd tell you to look elsewhere. There are so many other jobs out there that will get you much more money much easier. For instance, an investment banker or consultant at the Big Four or MBB firms can pocket great sums very early after graduation. The amount of effort required to complete a medical degree, then intern, then become a resident, and then specialize, makes the idea of doing medicine for the money seem preposterous.

Status. Yes it is true, doctors are held to a high regard in our society. They are those with the privilege of helping others with their problems and learn the deepest darkest secrets that not even close family members may know. But it is also true that a doctor has made a lot of sacrifices. They have dedicated decades years of their life to learn the ins and outs of the human body, had countless night shifts, sleepless nights, just so that their patients can have the best medical outcome.

Now lets have a think of the counter argument to all of these demons.

Money. Yes doctors do earn a stable and above-average income. If they didn't, then no one would want to study medicine. And this isn't necessarily a bad thing! An interviewer wants to know that you've considered all the possibilities regarding the medical profession, and it is completely appropriate that you would want to sustain a certain lifestyle with the money you earn. So in short, becoming a doctor purely for the money is stupid. But becoming a doctor who is able to financially stable isn't.

Status. Yes doctors are looked upon with high regard because they are role models. Doctors are the ones who promote good health practices in their community and raise awareness for health issues. Look at the COVID-19 crisis - doctors are out there encouraging people to wear masks and observe social distancing. And you know what, people tend to listen. Making use of a doctor's position as a role model to promote good health is actually a great thing.