Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Are medical students just in it for the money?

I was just casually scrolling through Facebook when I came across an article entitled 'Medics are the worst people at uni'. I clicked on it, thinking that it would be a funny post about how we're always too busy for social events or taking up too much space in the library with all our books but, oh, I was so wrong.

The article basically implied that medicine is a cushy degree and that doctors are only doing the career for money - it's actually the first piece of writing I've come across that is detrimental towards medical students. And it made me wonder why I should bother going through 5 hard years of medical school for people to genuinely believe that I'm doing it for the monetary rewards.

The truth is, medicine is hard. I know people that have had to drop out due to stress levels and the degree making them mentally ill - there's a reason that the rate of mental illness is so high in the medical profession. Us fourth years are currently in hospital for around 30 hours a week, unpaid, and then have to come home and do a few hours of studying to keep up with the work load for our finals at the end of this year. It takes a lot of dedication and motivation to be able to keep up with it - but most people do it because they love medicine so much, and know that they will have a satisfying career at the end of it all.

If anyone is in the medical profession for the money, then they are in the wrong career. There are much easier ways to make much more money than doctors do, where you wouldn't have to do a 5 year degree or work a 60 hour week. Sure, the job stability is a factor in why people choose to go into medicine, and the fairly decent pay is a bonus (although I wish we were paid 'five times the national average salary straight out of uni', as the article said). But medics are saving peoples' lives. Our society needs doctors, and that is why there is job stability and the pay that they receive.

Also, just to contradict a couple of other points in the article - we have to get at least 60% in our exams to pass them each year, some reaching as high as 80%, not 40%. And yes, we do have amazing parties - a few times a year. It would be great if I could party and enjoy myself a little more, but actually most weekends I'm so exhausted that my greatest achievement is to crawl into bed and watch Netflix. However, once in a while, it's great to let go a little and not have to worry about Hirschsprung disease or placenta praevia, and a lot of medics like to let their hair down a bit and have a good boogie (yes, I did just say that). Plus I have never used my degree to queue jump (I wish this worked).

It's such a classic cliche and spouted during every potential medical student's interview ever, but I am doing medicine because I genuinely want to help people. The joy that it brings to make someone feel better, even just being able to reassure them that they are okay, is priceless. I realise that I am really lucky to be on the path to a career that I know I will enjoy so much, and one that I will feel like I have achieved something at the end of the day - but I'm not going to lie, it is hard, and sometimes I feel like I could be doing a 9-5 office job and enjoy my life a little more. I could be comfortable and have time for myself, without the pressures of studying.

But at the end of the day, I am incredibly passionate about medicine and it would take a lot for me to give it up - even my depression can't take it away from me. I feel privileged to be a part of the medical world and hope that, for as many people that believe that we are just in this job for the money, many more will know that it is because we do care, and we do want to make a difference to peoples' lives.
Do what they think you can't do.


  1. I read this article frustrating! Like you, I agree that the majority of medics know that medicine is not a get rich quick course. Being a medical student for me isn't about huge parties and using my degree to get privileges. It's like yesterday afternoon, holding the hand of a crying patient until they felt better. Or fetching a drink for a patient in resus who was uncomfortably thirsty. I'm in medicine for the people, not the money.
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

  2. There is no way that anyone is in the medical profession (or healthcare profession) for the money. I work 40-50 hour weeks and I'm paid £7 an hour which is rubbish, I know. But I carry on because I love helping people, just like you do. It's not about money at all!! xx

    Sam // Samantha Betteridge

  3. I'm not from UK so I'll just share the (I think) general view of doctors in my country. Here, they are paid well compared to most. I do believe students choose medicine because they want to help and it's interesting, but I think the bad rep mostly comes from dealing with some already established doctors who can be real assholes.
    Then again, I blame this partly on the system - there is no test for personal values when you apply to the school or at any time after, and you don't get educated about how to treat patients respectfully. You only get taught how to deal with the disease, not the patient as human being. While I believe that most people are kind and considerate, there are some individuals that simply have too many "bad days". Yes, those happen to everyone, but some people really are jerks. Considering my country educates a lot of doctors, and then doesn't employ them because "there is no money" (because it's spent on rigged supply calls), we should employ more. Overworked people should be able to take a break, people who don't like to work with people, should do something else.
    I could name many bad examples from my boyfriend and his grandma (wiho spent quite a good chunk of her life in hospitals for various complications), and my mother (who herself is a retired oncologist, and has medical problems that might be age-related), but I've always had great experience with all medical staff (I've been hospitalized three times if I don't count my 8-weeks-too-early birth with C-section, and have been to quite a few different specialists for different reasons as a child. Of all of them, it was only one doctor who didn't even look at me or said good morning at the morning visit when I was hospitalized with brain concussion - honestly, you're there in the room with almost nothing to do, you can't move, maybe you're in pain, maybe you've been there for weeks - you ARE happy to hear someone wish you a good morning and ask how you are in addition to just reading the report! It takes 10 seconds! I luckily had a great funny male nurse who loved to hang around in my room and poke jokes).

    I have the utmost respect for them, and especially for the nurses. I think their work is greatly undervalued and underpaid, not just by general society, but also by doctors. They do the worst hours, have to always be there for patients and cater to their wishes, and they often do, in my opinion, the least rewarding work (changing adult diapers, wiping vomit and blood, changing bloody pads, washing patients...). Not to mention that they get blamed when they can't fulfill the wishes.

    And the staff at the ER is even a whole different category. I can't imagine functioning in so much stress and with such limited time. So many sick or hurt people at any time of the day, with so many different problems, all waiting for their turn.

    Another thing, at least in my country, most of the professors are male, even if the women are just as qualified. And most GPs are women, who are less valued, just like you noticed in your research. How many female professors are there at your medical school?

    I do find human body interesting, but my mother has always warned me about how stressful the job is. I don't think I could do it, not because I'm not smart enough, or too lazy, but because I couldn't deal with all the people. Not the patients, but their families, supervisors, other medical staff. I guess my beforementioned doctor might have the same problem :P

    That's a long thing to write in such a small comment-box, I hope it makes sense :)

    All in all, thank you for doing this for the right reasons, I do hope your experience is and will be good! We should all know that prevention is better than curative, and people should strive to take cood care of their health before they're in need of professional help. And once we're in your hands, we should acknowledge that patient's health is (hopefully) in everyone's best interest.