Careers

What It Takes to Be a Doctor: Is MBBS Right for You?

There are few career options that are considered as prestigious as medicine. Are you meant to be a doctor? Discover if MBBS is right for you with our guide on what it takes to be a doctor.


What It Takes to Be a Doctor Is MBBS Right for You

1. Career in Medicine

Not an easy career to take up, yet if you have passion and grit, it’s one of the most respectable and highest earning professions. Becoming a doctor requires a lot more capabilities, not only academic, but also emotional, than many other professions.

It is a fulfilling career, associated with social service and thankfulness. M.B.B.S. also opens up many different career opportunities. However, becoming a doctor takes longer than other professions to start earning. A post-graduate degree is mostly required before you begin your professional career. If you’re considering whether being a doctor is the right career option for you, here’s all you need to know before you start preparing for it.

Contents: Jump to Section

1.1 Industry/Sector
1.2 Social Image
1.3 Reasons to Become a Doctor
2.1 Personality Traits Required
2.2 Physical Demands
2.3 Psychological Demands
3.1 Extra Curricular Activities Recommended
3.2 Related Hobbies to Take Up
3.3 Related Movies/ TV Shows
3.4 Related Fiction to Read/ Novels
4.1 Courses Taken
4.2 Entrance Exams
4.3 Academic Qualifications/ Options
4.4 License Required
4.5 Internship/ Work Experience Required
4.6 Cost of Tuition and Training
4.7 Competition
4.8 General Age to Start Professional Career for Doctors
4.9 Governing Bodies
5.1 Specializations/ Sub-Professions
5.2 Companies & Institutions That Employ Doctors
5.3 Growth Prospects
5.4 Entrepreneurship Opportunities
5.5 Salary Range
6.1 Part-Time Options
6.2 Traveling Required
6.3 Average Workday/What to Expect
7.1 Retirement Prospects
7.2 Threats from Automation
7.3 Common Reasons for People to Quit
8.1 Top Universities in India
8.2 Top Universities in World
8.3 Famous Personalities
8.4 Useful Links

1.1 Industry/Sector

Healthcare, Defense, Education, etc.

Doctors are primarily employed in the healthcare industry, with most of the jobs in private and government hospitals. It’s also common for doctors to be self-employed. However, just about any large company or institution can employ onsite doctors, such as factories, universities, even theme parks, etc.

1.2 Social Image

Prestigious

Doctors are almost always well-respected and loved. It is considered one of the most noble professions. A respectable doctor should be hard-working, ethically moral and responsible towards his/her work.

1.3 Reasons to Become a Doctor

Helping people, contributing to society, respect, finding a purpose/fulfillment

2. What It Takes to Be a Doctor

professions-career-choice-doctor-medical-medicine.JPG-surgeon

2.1 Personality Traits Required/ Preferred

Hard working, professionalism, academically strong, good at time-management

Perhaps the foremost trait you’ll require is being academically strong, since getting admission in a good medical school is not at all easy. It takes 7 long years to even start your career, so patience is required, too. A high sense of responsibility, teamwork and high ethical standards are required when you’re dealing directly with people’s health and lives.

You also need strong communication skills and local language skills to be able to communicate with your patients and their families. Additionally, you’ll require an exceptionally good memory, which will come handy when recalling disease symptoms, names of medicines and patient health history. You’ll also want pro-activeness and ability to deal with critical situations as a part of your personality, which will come in handy in emergency and operations. Lastly, doctors should have attention to detail. Especially in certain specializations, like surgery or neurology, you’ll even need precision.

If you’re planning on starting your own clinic or hospital, you’ll also need additional personality traits. An entrepreneurial spirit, networking abilitiesfinancial acumen are good examples. You’ll also want to learn to manage your time well, considering a 24-hour working clinic will leave little time to spend with family or friends.

2.2 Physical Demands

Long working hours, standing for long

The biggest demand that comes with a career in medicine is that you’ll be required to work long hours. Oftentimes, working hours will extend to odd hours or after-hours. Some specializations or industries may require frequent travel, such as onsite doctors in disaster areas. Some specializations also require long standing hours such as surgery, obstetrics or for self-employed doctors.

Lastly, you’ll also need to be medically fit in order to join a medical school.

2.3 Psychological Demands

Highly competitive, less time for hobbies, socialization & emotional well-being

Being a doctor, you’ll have to get used to a certain lifestyle, which often requires odd sleep hours and working lunches, starting right from your college. Once you become a professional, forget about hobbies or free-time, especially if you have a high-profile job or your own clinic.

Most specializations will leave little time for socialization outside workplace. You’ll also require the ability to work with blood/ body parts/ disease/ life and death. Additionally, the medical entrance exams are highly competitive, so students often find themselves in challenging emotional state, competing with childhood buddies for limited college seats.

A career in medicine also comes with emotional challenges like developing emotional detachment as a coping mechanism when dealing with patients. If you’re an introvert, you’ll also have to step outside your comfort zone for networking, especially in the beginning of your career.

3. How to Build Interest in a Career in Medicine

medical-assistant-schools-online-science-experiment-chemistry-lab

3.1 Extra Curricular Activities Recommended

NGOs, science clubs at school, doctor assistantships

Try to join a local non-profit organization, such as old-age home to help the old people. You can also join or start a science club at school. There, you can make cool biology projects, put up an exhibition about science or biology for the students of your school or organize a lecture by a professional doctor. You can also organize or participate in science debates or quiz contests. This will help you increase your knowledge on the subject and also build leadership abilities.

Additionally, senior students can also apply for a doctor assistantship. You may be given small responsibilities, but it’ll give you an exposure of life at a clinic/hospital.

3.2 Related Hobbies to Take Up

Science experiment board games, hospital visits, doctor role playing games

Chemistry lab sets were one of my favorite games to play when I was a child, which let me play with chemicals! And you can find a science set that you love, as they come for all age groups! Also go for pharmacy or hospital visits. Watch documentaries about body parts, new areas of research in medicine, and health conditions across the world.

3.3 Related Movies/ TV Shows

Grey’s Anatomy [TV-14]
Doogie Howser M.D. [TV-PG]
Munnabhai M.B.B.S. [U/A]

3.4 Related Fiction to Read/ Novels

MASH by Richard Hooker
The House of God by Samuel Shem
Doctors by Erich Segal
Nothing Lasts Forever by Sydney Sheldon

4. Becoming a Doctor

medical-assistant-school-student-program-mbbs-md-doctor

4.1.1 Courses Taken at School

Science – physics, biology, chemistry; Local language & English

4.1.2 Courses Taken at College

Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Pathology, Pharmacology, Microbiology, Forensic, Medicine, Toxicology, ENT, PSM, Eye, Gynecology, Surgery, Paediatrics

4.2 Entrance Exams

NEET, AIIMS, JIPMER

Students typically take medical entrance exam in 12th standard, according to which college they’ll be applying to. Check official websites of entrance exams to find about dates and how to apply.

4.3.1 Academic Qualifications/ Degree Required

Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)

High school (11th, 12th std.) are called pre-med. After that, students join an accredited medical college to get a bachelor’s degree in medicine. MBBS is 5.5 years program, including 1 year of professional internship.

4.3.2 Post-Graduate Degree Requirements/ Options

Doctor of Medicine (MD) , Masters in Science (MS), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

MD and MS are 3 years long, after which students can obtain a license and begin their professional practice. Students also have an option to study further and do PhD, especially if they want to go into research or academia.

4.4 License Required

License is required for private practice.

4.5 Internship/ Work Experience Required

1 year internship as a part of MBBS.

4.6 Cost of Tuition and Training

Top govt. colleges in India have affordable tuition costs. Tuition fees are considerably higher in private institutions. Most private institutions require heavy donations, except for merit students. Scholarships are uncommon and very competitive.

4.7 Competition

College entrance exam is highly competitive. For masters, some specializations are quite competitive for getting into good universities.

4.8 General Age to Start Professional Career for Doctors

24 years

4.9 Governing Bodies

Indian Medical Association, Medical Council of India

5. Professional Opportunities/ Career Growth for Doctors

cardiologist-medical-specializations-types-of-doctors

5.1 Specializations/ Sub-Professions

General physician, Neuro-surgeon, ENT, General surgery, Gynaecologist, Cardiologist, Pediatrician, Dermatologist, Radiologist, Allergist/Immunologist, Emergency Medicine Specialist

You can select specialization during your residency program, such as heart doctor, children’s doctor, brain doctor, etc.

5.2 Companies & Institutions That Employ Doctors

Hospitals/Clinics – Healthcare Defense Factories – Manufacturing Clinics in Education Research Education/Teaching Sales for Med Equipment

Hospitals, clinics, both private, government and non-profit ones, employ many different kinds of doctors. Doctors also join pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies as consultants. They can be employed at universities to teach or do research. Furthermore, large corporate companies and manufacturing plants have doctors on board as resident doctors.

Many doctors start their own practice or clinic, serving as family physician or dermatologist, etc. Lastly, army, navy and air force also employ onsite doctors, who have to travel with the force, or travel to disaster areas, depending on their job.

5.3 Growth Prospects

Growth prospects depend on many factors like entrepreneurial and networking abilities, proactive and hard-working nature. Being self-motivated is a factor in career growth, especially for financial success. Read more in Section 2.1 above.

In a job, students often start as interns, and move on to become resident doctors. You can then be promoted to senior doctor after 3-7 years of experience.

5.4 Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Doctor entrepreneurs can start a private clinic or  hospital. Other options are starting a private lab or even a medical college. There is also the option of providing freelance-consulting services to hospitals, manufacturing units, medical media and research facilities.

5.5 Salary Range

6. Life as a Doctor

hospital-resident-medical-program-emergency-ward

6.1 Part-Time Options

Being a doctor is a very demanding job, and is almost always full-time. This career leaves little time for hobbies or additional part-time work. However, if you have no additional family responsibilities and can manage time well, you may be able to take up extra part-time work for relaxation or emotional well-being. Please note that this is uncommon and may get physically too tiring.

6.2 Traveling Required

Being a doctor is often not a high-travel demanding profession. Most specializations don’t require much outstation traveling, as maximum work is within the hospital or clinic. Some specializations or jobs may require frequent traveling, e.g. defense doctors.

6.3 Average Workday/What to Expect

7. Future of Your Career in Medicine

am-i-meant-to-be-a-doctor-career-in-medicine

7.1 Retirement Prospects

In India, doctors commonly work till the age of 70. After retirement, doctors sometimes oversee their private hospitals, if any. Lots of retired doctors enjoy a quiet life, or a social one, depending on their personality.

7.2  Threats from Automation

Some specializations have threat like radiologists. Some specializations are also being highly assisted by automation, for example, general surgery. Automation is also creating new fields of research & work opportunities like cancer treatment, gene mutation and DNA sequencing.

7.3 Common Reasons for People to Quit

Loss of work enthusiasm, extra long work hours and unhealthy work-life balance, thankless or doubtful patients, job not meeting expectations because of too much paperwork.

8. Further Resources

8.1 Top Universities in India

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
JIPMER College, Puducherry
Christian Medical College, Vellore
University College of Medical Sciences, University of Delhi

8.2 Top Universities in World

Harvard Medical School
University of Oxford
University of Cambridge
Stanford University
Johns Hopkins University
New York University

8.3 Famous Personalities

Dr. Devi Shetty, Bidhan Chandra Roy, Elizabeth Blackwell

8.4 Useful Links

Medical Council of India
National Eligibility/ Entrance Test (NEET)
Indian Medical Association

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