The Long Game


People may think doctors live a posh and upper crust life. They may be right, but doctors fight for it. Everybody told me I was crazy and that I shouldn’t do it. Wanting to be a doctor is a long and hard game. But to me, all of the studying, mental breakdowns, and existential crises are worth it for the ability to help others.

I have wanted to be a doctor since I was 14, so for about 6 years. When I go down that thought process however, I think, “What else would I do?” I often wonder if I am up to the task of all the work that comes with studying medicine. I think about this almost every day. In fact, my own doctor told me that she wishes she chose a different path. She recommended that I become a physician’s assistant. I have considered being a P.A., but if I go into medicine, I want to have full authority to make decisions independently. The human body is fascinating; I would love to know all that I can about how the human body functions and what can go wrong with it. 

Becoming a physician does require a lot of work. During the undergraduate degree, it’s important to do volunteer work and research to make your application to medical school look as good as possible. The admissions want to see that you are active in your community and getting good experience. They also want to make sure you won’t faint at the site of blood. After an undergraduate degree, you take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and apply to medical school.

Medical school is 4 years long, followed by a residency and fellowship, depending on what field you go into. So, aspiring doctors can expect their real job to start in their 30s. There is a lot to know and it is very competitive. You compete to get into medical school, to get a residency, and to get opportunities into a fellowship. 

The medical field, and especially being an M.D. or a D.O., is very rewarding. Having the knowledge of a physician means that you can help anyone to the best of your ability. Unfortunately, you can’t save everyone, but all you can do is try your hardest to save them. Seeing people get to live a better quality life, is the best job there is. I have heard doctors say that it is what keeps them going through the long hours and stress.

Obviously, doctors are well compensated for their work. What worries me, however, is the cost of all of this schooling. People in medical school admissions have said to expect $200,000 for the 4 years. Unfortunately, students typically cannot work during medical school. So, most of that could be student loans.

It is a common misconception that people go into medicine for the money. I think that it’s a factor, but not the main reason. If a doctor hated being a doctor and only did it for the money, they would be burnt out very quickly and probably quit.

Being a doctor isn’t an easy job. It’s not just 9-5. Doctors often have to be on-call overnight or work the night shift. If a doctor sees patients in an office, they’ll often have to spend hours charting once they’re done seeing patients. But everything that goes into being a doctor is well worth it in the end. Saving a human life is the greatest job in the world. So, I’ll be playing the long game.

About Jenna Ehrler

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