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Once you decide to take up medicine as a possibility after 10th standard, things might get complicated. The first issue being whether to listen to your heart or your mind. Our minds often think about subjective points of view of the society and our immediate surroundings, which will undoubtedly encourage us to choose medicine. But sometimes, we forget what our heart’s and our own desires are. It takes a certain kind of person to care for the sick, injured and dying.

So, whether you choose to become a nurse, doctor or physician assistant, consider asking yourself some of the questions below.

Dedication—Are you in it for the long run?

Medicine is not a career for the faint-hearted. When you choose medicine, you are signing up for five or six years of undergraduate study with frequent exams. Graduation from medical college is the just the beginning rather than the end of the journey. Once you leave medical school, you have to get through many years of foundation training, where your competence in managing acutely sick patients will be assessed. You have to get through the full-time training, with no breaks for things such as maternity leave. Some trainees decide that they don’t have what it takes to be in it for the long run.

Mental Ability—Can you deal with stressful situations?

A-level grades and entrance exam scores might get you into a good hospital or clinic, but it does not mean you’ll not run into difficulties. Jobs that involve life and death are a lot beyond just stress and require you to keep up with challenging situations. Depending on what medical field you go into, you may be dealing with life-threatening situations. If you tend to freak out easily, you may want to reconsider a career in medicine. But if you are someone who remains calm under pressure, working in the medical field may be ideal for you.

Interest—Do you have a genuine interest in medical science?

Let’s assume that you have the dedication and mental ability. But if you lack the fundamental interest in helping people or medical science, then there’s a problem. Working in the medical field is not always easy. In fact, it can be tough physically and emotionally. But if you feel strongly about making a difference in a person’s life, it may be worth the effort. Be honest with yourself and determine if that is something you can do. The people who are most satisfied with their jobs are usually those that enjoy what they do.

Acceptance—Is work/life balance important to you?

Consider how many hours you want to devote to your career as well as how much family or social time is important to you. In the latter stages of your undergraduate degree, you will still be facing a demanding schedule of clinical and academic examinations, while your non-medical friends will have left university and be starting their careers. Inevitably, there will be times when you miss out on a party or other social gathering. Even when you are not at work, you will still have lots of things to be getting on with, such as preparing for exams and keeping your professional portfolio up to date. The situation can become increasingly problematic—particularly when spouses and children enter the frame.

Communication skills—Are you a people person?

Medical college curriculums now give much greater attention to equipping their students with the necessary communication skills. Unfortunately; however, there are still some students who, with all the training in the world, struggle with the communicative demands of clinical practice. Although there are some exceptions, medical workers are often around other people. If you do not enjoy being around other people or treating patients, you may find working in the medical field a big challenge. But if you have strong interpersonal skills and consider yourself to be a people person, you may be on the right track.

Once you’ve asked yourself the these questions, you should be able to narrow your focus. If you’re not entirely sure yet, consider taking an aptitude test after 10th standard.

Talk to parents, teachers, or career counselors if available, or other important people in your life. Think about the big picture – no single question on this list should determine your choice. Here’s to your career success!

You may also be interested in reading about how a typical day in the life of a doctor looks like. Click here to know more.

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