Why Not To Go To Med School

So you’re interested in going to medical school. But maybe you shouldn’t. In this post, we’ll talk about reasons why not to go to medical school.

Let’s start with why I wrote this post.

This past week one of my classmates and I were talking about our plans for residency. I recently decided my future career (Internal Medicine) but he was much further from a decision.

Instead, he says he was considering “selling out” and getting a consulting job. Now I’ve nothing against the consulting job.

“But can you imagine going through 4 years undergrad, the freaking MCAT, and 4 years of med school (+ Step 1 and Step 2) just to end up in consulting?”

This is why knowing if your reasons are authentic can save you a lot of trouble later on. But if your reasons correspond with one a few in this post, it may be reason to think on whether or not to go to medical school.

So let’s get started.

“I Want To Help People”

You may have read the headline and wondered why wanting to help people is a bad reason to go into med school.

Well honestly it’s not a bad reason, it’s just too vague of a reason.

Almost every pre-med says they want to go to med school to “help people”.

But what does that mean?

Why can’t you go to nursing, PA, or PT school and do the same thing?

You don’t even have to do medicine to help people. So why medicine?

Wanting to help people is honorable but it is too ambiguous of a reason to decide a life career on.

Check out my post on what you need to know before applying to med school to understand how to develop your “whys”.

Financially Attractive:

Money and medicine is a topic that we shy away from but everyone thinks about.

Yes the profession has a great salary and you and your family should be taken care (if you’re smart of course).

But can you deal with the stress of hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt? Remember medical school leaves you with an average of $150,000 of debt.

You may think this is not a big deal with a future 6 figure income. But remember that you don’t get paid the big bucks until you are out of residency. This can be anywhere from 3-7 years.

Those 3-7 years will be salaried between 40-60K (depending on your geographic region). During this time your loans are still accruing interest.

“So a $150,000 loan can balloon to $250,000 – 300,000 at the end of your residency. Can you deal with that kind of financial burden on yourself and your family?”

Now add a 3-year fellowship if you’re interested in cardiology, oncology, or any profession requiring additional training.

Medicine will make you broke before it makes you rich. If you’re going in for the money, pick a different field.

Family Pressures:

Trust me I understand this one. If you come from an immigrant or high expectation/achieving family, being a doctor seems like the only choice you have.

But it’s not worth it.

You may love your family but you can’t make your life decision’s on the desires of others.

“If you can’t imagine yourself going in to work every day for the rest of your life, your family’s desires are irrelevant.”


Social Status:

This goes for the prior few reasons. You’re likely a high achieving individual. Thus you may feel the pressure to continue to do big things in your life.

“Don’t let your past success force you to pick a “successful appearing” profession. You will be miserable with your life.”

I’ve unfortunately have talked to more classmates than I expected about being done with med school and second thinking their decision.

Yes some of them thought they were going into medicine for the right reason. But some didn’t evaluate their “whys” deep enough.

The only social statement worth making is showing that you are truly happy with your life and career. Pick wisely.

You’re Too Far In The Hole:

So you’ve told everyone you’re going to be a doc. You’ve taken all the required classes, majored in Bio, took the MCAT, and are all ready to apply.

You can’t imagine turning away now.

But it’s never too late to change directions.

Remember it’s 4 years of countless studying, long days, and tests. Then you have 3-7 years of residency before you can even become an independent doc.

This is a lifelong commitment and I ask you to not take it lightly. So while it may seem difficult to do a 180 and switch, it may be the best thing for you if you have doubts.
So there you have it. Medicine is a great field filled with great people – but it’s not for everyone.

Hopefully now you know the main reasons on why not to go to medical school.

Thus it’s important to consistently reflect on your motivations to pursue medicine in the first place.

Once you have a solid reason, continue to revisit it and assess whether that reason still holds true.

If you’re reading this you’re likely a budding physician. I hope for the very best for you and don’t wish to see you perceive this field with regret.

Now I want to hear from you, what are other bad reasons you know or have heard on why not to go to medical school?

Also comment below if you’re struggling with the decision to become a doctor. I’ll try my best to help!

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Lakshya Trivedi, TheMDJourney

My name is Lakshya (pronounced Luck-sh) and I’m a third-year medical student at UT Southwestern in Dallas, TX. TheMDJourney is my effort to give helpful advice and personal experiences to anyone on a similar journey. It is also my dedicated form of self-reflection and a project I hope to keep on going for a while.