25 things You Didn’t Know About Studying Medicine

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Being a doctor is a special profession. Studying Medicine requires more than being an A student and staying at the top of science class. It is a calling.

But are there more things you deserve to know about the medical profession before getting in? DEFINITELY.

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So today, we bring you 25 things you didn’t know about studying and practicing medicine. Numbers 5, 8 and 16, among others, will shock you.

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Let’s continue…

Table of Contents

1.     Studying Medicine is not about being intelligent

Intelligence has less to do with success in medical school than you think. It’s more closely tied to work ethics. If your idea of work is 9 to 5 a day, 5 days a week, then being a doctor is not the path for you.

2.     Prepare to Work Harder Than You Ever Worked Before

If this wasn’t a list, this would be the only thing on here. Your books may casually say medical school is tough but you won’t really know until you start. Medical school is an endurance test. Prepare to be at the top of your game consistently.

3.     Medical School requires more memorization skill than critical thinking skill

Yes. You have to be able to read all the large books and remember all the weird names. If you want to study medicine, you should get good at memorizing information.

4.     The Highest ranked Medical Schools don’t necessary provide the best training

You’ve probably seen those medical school rankings on the internet. Don’t rely on them. If you want to decide on the right medical school for you, ask the students or the medical practitioners.

5.     Becoming a doctor is not a good strategy to become rich

Surgeons and doctors in affluent communities are a very small segment of the medical population. Generally, you’ll be comfortable, but you won’t be rich, especially if you calculate what you make per hour. Your friends making the same salary will literally work half the hours you are. If getting rich is what you want, you should look to a different profession.

6.     You can’t practice part time.

If you have a variety of interests and pursuits, then medicine will not be conducive to your long term vision. To be successful as a medical doctor, your profession has to be the central focus in your life. It cannot be a part time hustle. You are either in or out.

7.     Many medical schools don’t allow students to work on the side

If you are planning to work while studying to raise some money for school, you’ll be disappointed. Even if the school allows it, the demand of school work, deadlines and more will not allow you the time to work.

8.     More people Die from medical errors than from pilot errors

From afar, it may seem that pilots are at greater risk of errors compare to medical doctors. But statistics the reality is that more people die from errors from medical doctors than from pilots. A recent Johns Hopkins study claims more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors. Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.

9.     The Medical profession records the highest number of Depression and suicide rate

May be it’s because they spend a great part of their lives saving lives without getting saved. Or the memories of medical errors or seeing patients suffer. Whatever the cause is, the sad reality is that the number of doctor suicides is more than twice that of the general population.

10. Medical doctors are control freaks

Due to the nature of the job, medical students must learn to control situations. The doctor should be the last person to freak out in case of emergency. How you handle stress is absolutely critical as a medical doctor.

11. There are laws in many countries that prohibit Medical Practitioners from advertising

In many countries around the world, medical practitioners are prohibited or at least strictly regulates from advertising. For example, the Code of Ethics by Medical Council of India states that advertisements or promises of “Guaranteed Treatment” cannot be made by doctors.

12. You may not know exactly what kind of doctor you want to be until the end of medical school

Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of being an orthopaedic surgeon. Or maybe you’ve had your sights set on cardiology for years. Even if you feel certain of pursuing a particular field, it’s very common for medical students to have a change of heart, midway. Some don’t even know their chosen field exists until halfway through.

13. When you choose a specialty, you are pretty much choosing it for life

Medicine isn’t like most careers, where you can move around different roles within a field, or even change fields completely without a ton of time and schooling. You can’t go from being a general pediatrician to a surgeon without devoting many years and finance to more education. So think carefully when you do make that decision.

14. Your Family Will Ask You for Medical Advice (Even in your first year)

Once you declare yourself a medical student, get ready to start getting health questions from people around you. You just have to tell them you haven’t gotten to that part yet.

15. Surgeons typically have an inherent financial conflict of interest

Because surgeons are paid approximately ten times more money to perform surgery than to manage your problem conservatively, they typically have conflict of interest. While many doctors will not admit it, there is often the temptation to want to default to a more profitable procedure in some cases. According to study, about 25 percent of operations are unnecessary.

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16. It’s common to stick yourself with contaminated needles

While medical students are expected to take precautions during practical lessons, it’s common for a student to mistakenly get stuck by contaminated needle or any such accidents.

17. If You’re in it for the Money, Prepare to be Disappointed

Being a physician requires over 80 hours of work a week. You could work two weeks straight without a single day off. Considering how many hours you work, your pay check may not be coming out ahead. If you really want to do this, you need to have a passion for medicine and an insanely disciplined lifestyle.

18. You will finally discover why doctors have terrible handwriting

Have you ever wondered why doctors have such terrible handwriting? Well, excessive note-taking will ruin your handwriting in medical school. You’ll realize some generalizations are actually true.

19. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness

Medical school is one of the most rigorous educational paths out there. Many students find themselves struggling academically for the first time in their lives. What if this happens to you? You may find that you will have to ask for help more often even if you are not used to it.

20. You’re not going to be the smartest person in the room anymore

If you are used to being the best student in class, in medical school, you’ll be surrounded by equally and more brilliant people. There will always be someone who knows more than you do. You have to get over yourself and start learning from other people.

21. You’re never going to know everything.

You’ll pick up more and more knowledge as you gain time and experience in your field, but there are always new discoveries and new treatments. Even 20 or 30 years into your career, you need to be constantly learning.

22. You’re going to mess things up

Often it’s something pretty minor that doesn’t affect a patient’s livelihood, like giving a medication at the wrong time. But sometimes it is major, like overdosing a patient. The important thing is to be honest when it happens and report it objectively, so corrective measures can be taken.

23. You need to be really good at working with other people. 

Being a doctor is not a one-man show. You have to work as a team with other doctors, nurses, and support staff, particularly if you’re working in a hospital. Learning how to get along with different personalities is a huge, and challenging, part of residency.

24. Being a doctor is a ton of paperwork

A lot of medicine is simply documentation: if you don’t write down that something happened, it’s like it never happened. From giving someone a medication to completing a procedure, you have to honestly and objectively document everything.

25. Be prepared to move

It’s hard to stay in one place for med school, residency, fellowship, and the jobs that come after. It’s easier if you’re based in a big city, but understand that the best program for you and your specialty might take you to a completely different part of the country. And if you live in a country where doctors are highly underpaid, you may want to move to another country.

There you have it; 25 things you probably didn’t know about studying medicine. The essence of this video is not to discourage you from pursuing your dream to become a medical doctor. We strongly encourage you to follow your passion. You just have to know what you are getting into. So which of these points surprised you the most? Let us know in the comment section. If you enjoyed this video, thumb up and share with someone. If you are yet to subscribe to After School Africa, this is likely a good time to subscribe. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!


  • Ifeoma Chuks is a naturally-skilled writer. She has written and contributed to more than 6000 articles all over the internet that have formed solid experiences for particularly aspiring, young people around the globe.

    Content Manager

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