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Reasons for going into medicine...inadequate??

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by rainsymphony, May 9, 2007.

  1. rainsymphony

    rainsymphony 2+ Year Member

    May 1, 2007
    I talked to a premed advisor a few days ago, and the first question he asked me was basically why medicine? Before today, I thought my reasons for going into medicine least adequate. It's something like two parts--I like the intellectual challenge and the interaction with people (well that's the idea behind my reason, not how I'd word it...). My advisor basically said my reason sucks and I have no idea why I want to pursue medicine. ouch. I had thought after another year and more clinical experience/shadowing etc, I would have a very solid answer to that question if I were asked at an interview or something, but now I'm torn between whether I actually know enough about medicine after a year of clinical experience to know that I want to pursue it, or...that I really have no idea why I want to do it. Do I have no reason, or is it because I just tend to sound unsure when I talk (when I don't pay attention to it).

    So, what I wanna ask is, what's a good answer to the question "why medicine"? Things like "to help people" whoever is asking that question actually take you seriously if you say something like that??

    I'm going to get as much clinical exposure I can to make my reasons more solid, but it seems like my motivation to pursue medicine will never have a "wow" factor to it. Do you really need a story like how fighting x disease with the help of Dr. y really made you want to be a doctor etcetc...?

    Thanks in advance for any advice. :confused:
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  3. mr burrito

    mr burrito SOCMOB 2+ Year Member

    Sep 16, 2006
    i tended to take everything my pre-med advisor said with a healthy helping of salt. seriously, as you investigate medicine further through clinical experiences, talking to people, sdn, etc. you will develop you own reasons why or whynot medicine and as a result become more convincing. remember there are tons of reasons other than "to help people", although most throw that in for good measure.
  4. diggitybop

    diggitybop 2+ Year Member

    Feb 1, 2007
    i wouldn't take too much stock in what your adviser says in this regard. many of the people i know (including myself) haven't had the significant wow factor. for me it was those basic reasons you mentioned that got me interested and then it was the significant exeriences after that confrimed my intuition. if you aren't convinced after your experiences, pursue other things. maybe you will end up doing sommething else. or after venturing outside premed you might be even more sure that medicine is right for you. basically if you haven't had that life changing experience, don't sweat it. get as much clinical expreince that you need to convince yourself one way or the other. you on;y live once so make sure you believe what you are saying to others
  5. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon 7+ Year Member

    May 1, 2006
    Those sound like two awesome reasons to me. The pre-med advisor at my school was a very nice man who was very knowledgable about the numbers one needed to be competitive at med schools. He didn't try to make alot of character judgements.

    This is kind of like people throwing out the "ultimate SDN insult," which is of course: "I feel sorry for your future patients." It is nearly impossible to look at a pre-med and decide if they are a) ready to go to med school and b) on a path of success as a physicians.

    Just apply and forget that dude.
  6. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection Physician Faculty SDN Advisor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Sep 4, 2006
    Inside the tesseract
    You will need to sort out a good answer to this question in your own mind, because it will be the basis for the essay on your required AMCAS personal statement. "Because I want to help people" is such a cliche (though often true) that you cannot include that as a reason. There are a lot of threads on this forum that ask the question, but it is rarely answered forthrightly, because the answer is very personal, and one prefers to have a creative, 'stand-out' essay, not a carbon copy that everyone has already used.
  7. Karina 07

    Karina 07 Banned Banned 5+ Year Member

    May 1, 2006
    Whatever is an honest answer is a good answer.

    My boyf had a very, very bad experience with his premed advisor. Oh my lord. She made him wait to submit his stuff until like, October. Talk about crap advice.

    So I agree with the posters who say take anything premed advisors say with a grain of salt. Why don't you talk with actual doctors about these reasons, if you're still concerned with them?
  8. AnEyeLikeMars

    AnEyeLikeMars Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    Carrboro, NC
    I agree with everyone else, ignore your advisor. I basically had the same reason as you and did fine. Remember, the goal is not to find the most creative, original answer that will blow people away. The best answer is a well thought out, honest answer. Your answer doesn't have to be unique to stand out, it's more about how you come across to your interviewer and in your essays.

    While those reasons are fine, I think that to improve your answer you should expand a little bit. Talk about what experiences piqued your intellectual curiosity or some of the intellectual challenges in medicine you've been exposed to, and maybe give some examples of patient interactions you've had in your clinical experiences that have convinced you that this is what you want to do with your life.
  9. PepperMD

    PepperMD 2+ Year Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    I would ask your advisor why he wanted to be a no-talent hack with a worthless degree that offered no other options but to sit around all day quoting admissions requirements to students who actually have a future. That's right, I went there.
  10. inside_edition

    inside_edition Waitlisted Member 2+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2006
    it's only in this field where there's a BS question and a requirement for a good answer and a lack of a good answer is the ultimate shame.

    Is this not a free country, where we are required to have a good reason to pursue something...damn, lost my train of thought because these types of things piss me off.
  11. Bored_Student

    Bored_Student New Member 5+ Year Member

    May 9, 2005
    i think aneyelikemars hit the nail on the head. there are only a limited number of answers to the why medicine question, and for many of us, we'll have to use some variant of the "we want to help people" and "im interested in it" answers. its ok if the answer is a little cliched. the real key is to be able to back it up wiht real experiences and show that while your answer is cliched, you're sincere about it. while it helps to be able to come up with some super creative answer, this won't work either unless you can back it up with real experiences and be sincere about it.
  12. soeagerun2or

    soeagerun2or Banned Banned 2+ Year Member

    Sep 27, 2006
    He has a point..

    If you like the intellectual challenge get a PhD. Working with people? Open a day-care center. Both? Try marketing or be a psychologist. Why not nursing? It's cheaper and easier and soon you'll be doing the exact same thing.

    I'm not trying to be mean. At interviews and on applications they ask questions which there really isn't a best answer for but you have to word it eloquently enough to make your point while not belittling others.

    Canned responses suck, but at least if you sit down and formulate a well thought-out, meaningful response it will sound better than "help people" or "intellectually challenging."
  13. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

    Sep 4, 2006
    Orange, CA
    Agree with Soegerun2 here!

    And let me add that this might help you. Sit down and try to remember when and why you first wanted to become a doctor - what put the idea in your head in the first place and when. Then trace your path to verifying that desire and ultimately deciding to apply.
  14. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    The best way to solidify your answer is to ask yourself, well why not X? And just make sure you can articulate why you wouldn't want to do those things. This question gets asked alot in interviews so it can't hurt to make sure that your answer is solid. I don't think your answer was nearly as bad as some others I've heard tho.
  15. emaj1n

    emaj1n M1 2+ Year Member

    Oct 16, 2006
    Good answer here. Pre-med advisors can be resourceful and worthless at the same time sometimes. He shouldn't simply tell you the answer sucks. He should have offered similiar advice to that above.

    Intellectual challenge + interest in working with people =/ medicine

    Adcoms are looking for a response that points to only medicine. Wow-factors aren't really important.

    Just my opinion here. Good luck!
  16. lilnoelle

    lilnoelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    I also had trouble answering this question. Honestly, I still am not exactly sure "why medicine." I do know that I like it.
    My reasons were interest in the human body, desire to contribute substantially to a community, impact individuals lives in a positive manner, desire to continually be learning, and a few more.
    My first set of interviewers didn't really love my reason (and I probably didn't articulate it very well).
    By my second and third set of interviews I refined my thoughts about the matter and tried to emphasize my uniqueness and my strengths in my reason for medicine. I talked about my background and how it has made me interested in rural healthcare. The second and third set of interviewers loved it. I was accepted at both of those schools (both schools are in the midwest and trying to produce health care providers for their underserved populations).

    I do feel a little guilty though because while still interested in rural healthcare - I'm not necessarily interested in primary care in a rural setting, which is what I thought I'd do before attending med school.
  17. gotmeds?

    gotmeds? 5+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    :thumbup: There's nothing wrong with wanting to help people. You should want to help people if you're going to be a doctor. The reason it's a bad answer is because it's not the whole truth. It'll take you around 12 years (counting undergrad and residency) and hundreds of thousands of dollars to become a doctor. With that kind of time and money, you could start your own charitible organization and ship oral rehydration solution to Africa by the bucketful. You'd end up saving a lot more lives that way than you ever will as a doctor.

    The problem with saying you "want to help people" is that you're leaving something out. Maybe it's, "...and I want to drive a really nice car" or "...and I want to show all the kids that made fun of me in high school that I'm better than them" or "...and I want to use the word 'stat' a lot like they do on TV." In any case, nobody goes into medicine only because they "want to help people" and are "fascinated by the human body" (number 1 and 2 cliche answers, respectively, by the way). There has to be another reason and maybe that other reason is not so good.
  18. holafarita

    holafarita 2+ Year Member

    Apr 10, 2007
    i agree w/ what everyone's said so far. if you really want to dig deep, try and think of answering the W's: what, where, when, why...oh yeah and how.

    what: help people

    how: this is where the money is: BY BEING AN MD!! i want to
    a) strengthen health care systems by being in an administrative role (dunno how adcoms feel about that prospect)
    b) contribute to our global body of medical knowledge (vast majority of worldwide biomed research goes on in this country and helps the entire world)
    c) serve in underserved areas (eg, rural areas, areas of high segregation)

    why: this is also money. you need to insert personal experiences here and find a way to eloquently tie those in with your above goals. why do you want to go into research? maybe you worked on a project that could have a major impact on human welfare. maybe serving in underserved areas was really rewarding to you. maybe you think that healthcare is a little deficient right now, and you have some ideas on how you could improve it (play this card very lightly, b/c you're presenting yourself to the current face of healthcare :p)

    where: as above, rural, urban, internationally, these are all interesting answers. an answer that shows a commitment to underserved areas is probably gonna get you extra points.

    when: uhh several years after y'all let me into your school :rolleyes:

    my basic reason for choosing medicine is that when you don't have your health, you don't have anything. you are a completely incapacitated person. i want to be the one who coaches people and works with them to achieve good health. and i experienced losing health firsthand....i should have driven that personal aspect home a little more this cycle in my PS and interviews...

    just my .02...good luck!
  19. postbac25

    postbac25 2+ Year Member

    May 4, 2007
    Princeton, NJ
    Pre-med advisors are rough, aren't they? Actually I think your reasoning is perfectly logical- wanting to help people is admirable and good. And medicine is unqiue in the sense that the study of it combines an intellectual challenge with a practical element. Few PhD programs can offer that, save for certain degrees in the counseling psych areas.

    As you gather more experiences with clinicians and with practitioners, ask them why they chose medicine. I think you will find that philosophically and practically you actualy allign with them.

    Beware of blind idealism, however. The medical practice has changed so much- managed care has all but revoked many aspects of physician's clinical autonomy in ways that detract from the overall quality of care delivered. in many cases it is up to the physicians to foreit reimburesement simply so that they may uphold their ethical obligations to treat according to the best of their abilities. Some physicians will even tell you not to go into medicine because it's that bad.

    Keep the faith. Your heart is in the right place. It sounds like all you need is more hands on experience to substantiate your claims. Best of luck.
  20. NervousNed

    NervousNed 2+ Year Member

    Oct 12, 2006
  21. riceman04

    riceman04 10+ Year Member

    Mar 21, 2005
    Los Angeles
    Wow!!! Any insecurities possibly? :p
  22. Dr2Bee

    Dr2Bee 2+ Year Member

    Sep 27, 2006
    Don't be discouraged by the words of your adviser. Your general reasons are good. You just need to gain some exposure to the field and support those reasons. It will be much more convincing to adcoms and interviewers when you have demonstrated your interest in medicine through examples like related activities, and can share those experiences with them. When you complete your application to medical school, you will need these anecdotes to stand out from the crowd.
  23. gotmeds?

    gotmeds? 5+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    I love how pre-meds assume that every advisor got there by being a failure at something else, especially at getting into med school. It's hard to believe, I know, but not everyone wants to be a doctor.
  24. PepperMD

    PepperMD 2+ Year Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    Of course not everyone wants to be a doctor. But who really wants to be an advisor?
  25. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

    Sep 4, 2006
    Orange, CA
    I actually have a couple of very intelligent friends who are either in the process of or about to go get a masters of education for the sole intent of becoming a high school or college counselor.

    Its incredibly arrogant of you to think that just because you're an ass with no respect for those who help you, everyone else is too.
  26. Green Pirate

    Green Pirate Neurotic Neuro Enthusiast 5+ Year Member

    Nov 13, 2006
    what??? :confused:

    that's kooky talk!
  27. PepperMD

    PepperMD 2+ Year Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    Take a freaking pill. I'm just joking around. Obviously every profession has merit. My comments are based more on my experience with useless advisors I've had. Obviously advisors can be helpful, blah, blah, blah, but the OP was talking about an advisor who claimed his/her reason for going into medicine "sucked", so I provided a handy retort. But call me an ass if you want. Hee-frickin-haw.
  28. dbhvt

    dbhvt Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Aug 9, 2005
    i thought it was funny.
  29. eternalrage

    eternalrage Even Kal has bad days... 10+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Yeah, "intellectual challenge", "interaction with people", and "helping people" are some of the top cookie cutter reasons to do medicine. Unfortunately, they happen to be real reasons, hence the large amount of people who share the same reasons.

    So if you don't have some crazy unique out-of-this world reason, then it puts more emphasis on what you said - "how I'd word it." Since they're banalities to adcoms, premed advisors, LOR writers, etc - you have to explain how you got to those reasons, and the WAY you say it becomes crucial to make up for lack of originality. Get personal with them, show them a picture of yourself and how your experiences helped you paint it. Keep the cheesiness and cliches to a minimum, but make it meaningful.
  30. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    To some extent the advisor could have a point. These are the cliche answers, and they are fine if you have something beyond these mere words to substantiate it, but not fine if that is your entire reason. Helping people is a hard sell because as mentioned above in this thread, medicine is perhaps one of the least cost and time efficient ways to help people, and if you think about it, the majority of jobs out there help people in some fashion. As such, the canned "I want to help people" response perhaps shows you haven't put a lot of thought into it. However if you want to help people because of something you saw/learned/experienced during your clinical experience that really inspired you, might be different. Intellectual challenge is similarly too much of a sound bite -- you need more specifics of what you like. Also bear in mind that these answers need to not only say why you want in, but why the school should let you in. So doing it for your own edification is well and nice, but it has to seem like a two way street -- that you are excited about certain things based on the clinical/research experiences you have had, and want to continue to research and work with patients in this or that exciting area.
  31. pyrois

    pyrois 2+ Year Member

    Nov 22, 2006
    Berkeley, CA
    I think the problem with that explanation is that it applies to pretty much every possible academic profession out there. It's just that the intellectual challenges are different, and so are the people.

    Why, in particular, do you like the intellectual challenges presented by medicine? Why would you rather interact with sick people than, say, consulting clients, or engineering colleagues?

    Your reason has to be a little more specific towards medicine. Specific enough such that if you replaced the word "medicine" with the name of some other profession, the reasoning wouldn't make any sense.
  32. dutchman

    dutchman 7+ Year Member

    Sep 5, 2006
    OP, "why medicine" is a serious question you should have asked yourself, and answered sincerely. It should be a personal question with a personal answer.
  33. voirlesetoiles

    voirlesetoiles Focus. 5+ Year Member

    Dec 12, 2006
    I'm guilty, I had a cookie cutter response about a year ago... I think you just need to be more specific, give reasons to back up your reasons. Although many people have emotional/philosophical reasons for entering medicine, it's important for an applicant to show that they have been objective... to show why they have chosen medicine over the thousand other ways to 'help people' or pursue science. I think you're on the right track... clinical experience/shadowing an shed light on many things....

    And while your adviser is being brutally honest, i think you're fortunate to have an adviser who candidly provides his/her input... Don't get discouraged, just go back next year after getting some experience and if you're still interested in medicine, you tell your adviser a reason with supporting evidence :luck:
  34. thirsty4chicken

    thirsty4chicken New Member 2+ Year Member

    Aug 20, 2006
    You're always going to give a cookie-cutter response if you don't include personal experiences or comparisons to other professions.

    For example, I talked about how I wanted to be a doctor vs. a 'businessman.'

    So, try to talk about medicine vs. other live paths - it will give your reasoning a little more depth.

    Edit: Oh, and OP: don't listen to your adviser on this one. He's probably bitter that he never went to med school or something.
  35. gary5

    gary5 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Sep 24, 2003
    Think about the moments that you've enjoyed interacting with patients, while shadowing and volunteering. Write those examples down in detail. There's your answer. Include your examples in your essays and when you interview. Have them on the tip of your tongue.
  36. rainsymphony

    rainsymphony 2+ Year Member

    May 1, 2007
    Thanks everyone! I know finding this reason is really important for someone who wants to go to med school, so I'll be doing everything I can to find my own reason. I should probably work on being more eloquent too. :rolleyes: people who are eloquent can be so much more successful than people who aren't. Such a useful trait/skill to have...

    Well thanks again for the advice! and lol, no grudges against my advisor, he's just helping me in his own way... The advisor Karina mentioned though, o_O October? Why is he even an advisor. :thumbdown: That's scary...
  37. brianmartin

    brianmartin 10+ Year Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Yakima, WA
    The response from your pre-med advisor probably had more to do with your delivery than the reasons themselves. You have to state your desire to be a physician in simple, powerful terms, so that nobody can disagree with you. Being eloquent and confident can make all the difference. Here is my little "30 second I want to be a doctor" speech that I use whenever the need arises:

    "I know I want to be a productive member of society. I also know some things about myself, for example I love new, stimulating experiences - I am constantly learning. Whatever I do, I know I'm going to be exercising my brain, making decisions, and analyzing situations from all angles. But why medicine? When I took Anatomy and Physiology, I had the most fun I'd ever had in college. It was my first taste of medicine and I loved it. Plus, my shadowing and clinical work experiences have been great. Are there times when I'm not sure I am "right for medicine"? Of course, this is a natural feeling, what sociologists call the "testing" phase of career exploration. Many physicians have told me, "You can't know what it's like until you are actually there." If this is true then my decision to become a physician is largely a "leap-of-faith"! Yet when I factor in my personality, and contact with doctors and medicine in general, I feel like I am ready for it."

    It's simple, to the point. I talk about my personality, and how it is suited to, among many things, medicine. Don't just state the reasons - talk about the experiences BEHIND the reasons (it helps if you have the requisite experiences!). Then you can answer the inevitable questions...such as: "Oh you mentioned shadowing and clinical work. What have you done? Tell me what you liked/disliked about it."

    Don't be afraid to address the question of, "How exactly is one to know he/she is ready to be a doctor if they've never been one?" This is really the crux of the question, and when you are asked, "Why do you want to be a doctor", they are looking to see that you have at least thought about it. And if you think about it for any length of time, you are going to arrive at many of the same thoughts that others have. You don't need the "most unique" answer in history. The've heard many answers and can tell when you are BS'ing or not. There is no "perfect" just have to be honest. Take a little time to break it down for yourself, but don't expect to prove that you were predestined for medicine. Nobody is. If you are on this message board, actively pursuing medical school, then it's likely you've had some experiences that pushed you in this direction. Just talk about them and you'll be fine!
  38. kdburton

    kdburton Ulnar Deviant 5+ Year Member

    Sep 3, 2005
    For me, on top of the typical "i like to help people" answer that everyone tries to use, I want a career:

    1) That allows you to make important decisions that will have major impacts on peoples lives (you may be very satisfied with this and you get to see the results of your decisions)

    2) That doesn't tie you to a desk all day

    3) That is seen as a positive contribution to your community

    4) That has a demand for my skills and knowledge so that I have options, job security, and can makea good living

    5) That encompasses a laundry list of all these plus others, that when all added up, becomes the career that would make me the most satisfied
  39. paranoid_eyes

    paranoid_eyes 2+ Year Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    your advisor, believe it or not, is trying to help you. EVERY premed is going to say "umm..i want to help people:idea: " Your advisor is trying to get you to stand apart from the rest of us. EVERY profession, so some degree, involves helping people. Dig deeper, and also be prepared for questions like "why not a nurse practitioner, or a PA" because they have been asked before.

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