• Young black woman with a backpack

    Is a Career in Medicine Right for You?

    Your career choice is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make. Most physicians chose to pursue medicine as a career because they wanted to make a difference by helping people and positively impacting lives through health care. You, too, can invest your intellect, skills, and passion to serve others in the demanding and rewarding medical profession.

    Questions to Ask When Considering a Career in Medicine

    What are the benefits of a career in medicine?

    Medicine could be a good fit for you if you are looking for a career that allows you to:

    • Serve -- The profession of medicine requires a unique commitment to put the service of others first.
    • Learn -- Physicians are lifelong learners, always acquiring new skills and learning new information.
    • Work as a team -- Physicians must be effective communicators and collaborative problem solvers.
    • Contribute to your community -- A physician impacts the lives of individuals, families, and communities.
    • Have career flexibility -- There are many career options for physicians. In a specialty like family medicine, physicians can practice in primary care offices and in hospitals, and they can work around the globe doing policy work, research, and advocacy.
    • Find job security -- Physicians have a high level of financial security and are in high demand, as health care needs continue to rise and evolve.

    Is a career in medicine right for me?

    Getting to know yourself -- your goals, aptitudes, personality, interests, and values -- is the best place to begin to answer this important question. Consider using the personal insight tools below to gain clarity and perspective on yourself as a person, as well as potential careers.

    Do Your Homework

    Although many students enter college wanting to become physicians, most students have little or no knowledge of what is involved in the practice of medicine. Take the time to explore what life as a physician might look like for you.

    • Ask to meet with physicians informally and interview them about their careers.
    • If you can, try to to find opportunities to shadow a physician to see what their typical day is like.
    • Review statistics on today's physician workforce.
    • Research the education and training requirements involved in becoming a doctor.
    • Learn the basics about medical school, including typical application requirements and types of medical education programs.


    What are the educational expenses and requirements?

    The national average debt for medical students is more than $100,000, and the cost of tuition continues to rise. While medical education is expensive, it is an investment with a rewarding career and an above average income. If you choose a career in primary care, there are many loan forgiveness and loan repayment program options available. Ninety percent of medical school students incur some type of student loans to finance their education.

    Learn more about paying off debt from student loans.

    Expect to Be Challenged

    Medical school admissions committees are looking for students who will be able to keep up with the coursework. Most medical students agree that the amount of material required during the first two years of pre-clinical study is exponentially higher than the workload during undergraduate school. During the third and fourth (clinical) years, there are also physical and psychological demands made by very long hours, hard work, and interaction with patients. Bottom line: It takes a highly motivated individual to pursue a career in medicine.

    What types of physicians are needed?

    While all types of physicians are needed to care for the health of the public, primary care physicians are crucial, especially in underserved areas. Primary care physicians uniquely  improve health outcomes and reduce costs, helping patients live longer and save money on their health care.

    The U.S. health care system now reinforces the need for primary care physicians through the implementation of measures that:

    • Increase patient access to health care insurance coverage
    • Incentivize preventive health care and align health care provider payments with patient health outcomes
    • Increase the primary care physician workforce