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Career options: deciding if a degree in medicine is for you

You may know that your future lies at university but with more than 50,000 undergraduate courses to choose from at over 390 higher education providers in the UK, making the right course decision can be a genuine challenge.


Let’s take a closer look.

How do I know if medicine is the right course for me?

Even if you know that you have a flair for the sciences and a passion for helping people, there are a number of courses that could easily be catching your eye in university prospectuses. Of course, there’s medicine and dentistry, but there are also numerous degrees in the likes of biomedical sciences and pharmaceuticals that could just as easily garner your interest.

Choosing a subject should be given careful thought and you may wish to look at a number of factors, including:

  • How much you believe you’ll enjoy the course
  • Whether the various modules play to your strengths
  • If the career at the end of your journey is something you are sure you want to pursue.

In order to tick the last box on this list, you may wish to consider trying one or more work experience placements at a GP surgery or hospital. Remember that a medical degree can still lead to a number of different jobs in the long-term. A surgeon’s day-to-day work is markedly different from that of a GP, so you may wish to really immerse yourself in these different fields before making a final decision.

Just as advisable is to explore completely different career paths – there are always roles out there that young adults have never considered but could find enjoyable if they simply knew that the jobs existed.

Getting to grips with the course

The fear for many young students studying for their GCSEs or A-levels is that the leap to a course in medicine might be too great, even if they are seen as a more talented student in school. Gaining confidence and having a belief in yourself is extremely important before you make a final decision on your course and so it is well worth speaking to doctors and even medical students about the experience and the workload involved in qualifying.

Should this not be enough, there are a number of summer schools out there that provide students with the opportunity to dip their toe into university life. The likes of the Cambridge Medicine Summer School held at Cambridge University’s colleges enable teenagers to gain a grounding in some of the topics that they may face at university, as well as giving them a feel for the kind of aptitude and commitment required to succeed in medicine.

Taking time and money into consideration

The phrase “investing in your future” has never been more appropriate than it is today. With university fees significantly higher than they were in years gone by, it is important that young adults consider the financial implications of studying medicine for upwards of 5 years. Not only will tuition and living costs be a major consideration but you should also think about the length of time before you begin earning in the world of work.

However, it should also be said that medicine graduates typically earn a healthy salary and, over the course of an entire career, your salary could repay these fees many times over.

Final tips

If you relish the challenge of a university degree that is both demanding and rewarding, medicine could well be for you. Here are a few other things to think about:

  • Do you work well under pressure
  • Are you studious and driven
  • Do you care deeply about others
  • Are you patient with people
  • Are you a good communicator

Convinced that medicine is for you? Then good luck!