How I Knew I Wanted to Study Medicine | A Medical Student's Experience

Are you looking at Medicine but unsure if you 'actually' want to study it? Well, in this post, a Medicine student shares their process of figuring it out!

Let me tell you how I knew I wanted to study medicince. You may have caught yourself in the situation where a family member or friend asks what you are planning to do after school. If you mention Medicine they may ‘ooh’, ‘aah’ or ‘wow’ in response.

Medicine is shrouded in taboo and is, in simple terms, very much glorified. The issue with this is that there is limited conversation around what attracts people to the career.

It goes without saying that every industry and career is becoming equally competitive and intensive. Consequently, if your reasons are not intrinsic or passionate, you may not be seeking the right rewards or outcomes to truly motivate yourself and succeed.


Why is it important to know what you want to study at University?

Alongside the gruelling academic aspect of your final years of high school, there is the looming question of what you would like your post-school life to look like career-wise.

Knowing in advance the university course of your dream will be a great source of motivation throughout your senior high school years.

It is also helpful to know in advance what areas of interest you may like to pursue, so that you can keep on top of additional requirements those courses may have in addition to a cut-off ATAR.

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How I knew I wanted to study Medicine!


1. Love for the Sciences

The stem for my motivation to pursue medicine came from my innate love for the sciences. In Year 11, I studied Physics, Biology and Chemistry and found that I was naturally drawn to the way in which concepts could be broken down into a flowchart or series of cause and effects.

I loved the real-world application of science to everyday life, and I often felt challenged whenever learning new things as it would change my perspective on the world and I would have to spend a number of hours musing on some of the more difficult concepts. This narrowed it down for me that I wanted to pursue a STEM-based degree.




2. Fond of literature and English

Alongside this, I have also always been fond of literature and studying English.

I have always loved the feeling of immersing myself within another world and trying to understand people better.

In hindsight, this has some real applications in medicine: the ability to empathise with people at some of their lowest points in their life and the ability to communicate with people from different disciplines to work towards the common goal of improving someone’s quality of life.


3. Realising the effects of Medicine in real life (through volunteering or through personal experiences)

I spent a lot of time volunteering throughout high school. One of my favourite volunteering experiences was with the Red Cross where I would make weekly phone calls to an elderly woman living in rural Australia. It was one of the most confronting but rewarding experiences because I became aware first-hand of the issue of limited access to health care services in rural areas. And, even more importantly, the impact one’s lack of access to health had on their wellbeing.

You may find this anecdote useful for your own reflection: consider all of the moments in your life where a family member or friend’s health may have been compromised. In those moments, you realise that you are entirely helpless, and potentially you may have been aware of the fact that only the doctors and specialists were in a position to help improve the situation.




If you’re like me, what you will come to realise is that the conclusion that medicine is the career for you. This is a culmination of a confluence of events. What I have mentioned up until now is truly how medicine earned its position on my career radar.


You need to research!

From there, it was a matter of research. I began to read novels written by junior doctors and specialists, to gauge a better understanding of what their long term lives looked like.

I would highly recommend Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, even if only for the eloquent writing and the emotional rollercoaster of Kalanithi’s life. You come to understand what a truly gruelling academic progression medicine is and the extent to which it tests your emotional stability and resilience in the face of long hours and the trauma of all of the people you failed to help.

But beyond that, you may find yourself, as I did, ready to tackle these challenges in the hope that you may be able to look back on your life and see the small positive impact you were able to have.

I also spoke to several medical students to gauge what studying a medicine degree was like. I asked them to tell me what shocked them most, what were the toughest parts, what they were surprised they enjoyed, what they were learning and more.

Medicine is a life-long career of learning, so it is important to gather information on the good and the bad before committing to it.




In conclusion…

I can reflect on all my personal attributes and passions which convinced me early on that I wanted to do medicine. The truth is, deciding on a career in medicine is a gradual process that begins subconscious and then involves going out and seeking knowledge and experiences to convince yourself you are making the right decision.

There is no single reason for why I wanted to study medicine, but there are several really good ones.

You will no doubt be faced with the interview question, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” when you apply for medical school. The answer will unfortunately never be original or complex, but it does not have to be. Instead, the answer should instead be personal and yours only to claim.

All doctors at some point realised they loved helping people and enjoyed learning science, but each can tell you about a specific time in their lives when they began to realise this. I knew I wanted to study medicine when I could not imagine myself studying anything else.

And because I made my career decision as well-informed as possible, my passion for medicine, three years later, remains unfaltering.


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