Why You Should Not Study Medicine1
In Nigeria, it could roughly be said that Medicine is the king of career choices particularly among science students. Students and their parent alike see it as the ultimate career path. Similarly, most secondary school teacher almost always scramble brilliant students to make medicine their career choice.
Understandably, the reasons for this pressure toward the choice of medicine are not far fetched. Firstly, Medicine is recognized as a prestigious career, whose practitioner command great respect because of their important roles of restoring health and preserving life. In the eyes of the member of the public, doctors are only next to God. The perceived strenuous and prolonged academic rigours a medical practitioner successfully scaled through further commands there respect in the society.
Furthermore, the economic downturn and the easy way medical doctors secure employment make the course particularly very attractive. It is also regarded as a high-paying profession, a veritable means of achieving financial sustainability.
Presently, medicine in Nigeria does not occupy the same position it did in the 70s and 80s. Things have changed. Moreover, it does not appear that teachers, students and their parents recognize this fact as they still mount lots of pressure on students to make Medicine a career choice.
and emphases have shifted, not for lack of need of medical doctors but as a result of government policy formulation and implementation which had displaced health service provision and management to the back bench.
A major error is counselling exceptionally brilliant secondary school students to pursue medicine as a career without adequate consideration of their interest and natural talents. From my experience, most intelligent students studying medicine ultimately become victims of their high intelligence; this is because Medicine as a course or career is filled with lots of frustrations and challenges that take more than being intelligent to overcome. Pure passion and unshaken interest are what carries a medical student through such crossroads.
Several of my colleagues daily endure and not quite enjoy their lives either as medical students or practitioners. They simply do not fit into the role that Medicine has forced them into.
I recall one of my junior colleague in medical school, kept repairing all sorts of electrical appliances and later dumped Medicine after about eight years in school to begin a new career in Computer Science. There are many medical graduates as this.
Another reason why students must mot rush into Medicine as a career is the poor condition of service particularly in Africa and that includes Nigeria. This is why many doctors work round the clock from government hospitals to private hospitals at the same time. It is the same reason why some engage in unprofessional activities such as termination of pregnancies so as to make ends meet particularly with the unending demand from close and distant relations who see him as a financially buoyant member of the family. The arduous life that most doctors live has led to family breakdown, depression, untimely death etc.
I recall a lecturer in the medical school kept telling us that if we wanted to be rich, we should leave medical school and sit for JAMB again choosing Accounting or some other business courses. We thought he was joking, but now we know better.
Unemployment has also hit the medical profession. Gone are the days when securing job as a medical doctor was automatic. Many doctors now travel from one state to the other looking for job. This has forced many to leave Nigeria for greener pastures overseas.
So, Medicine as a career is not good after all for all and sundry. Yes, it is a good and most fulfilling career for certain few and not the crowd that are filling Medicine in their JAMB forms every year. You are one of these few if you have the following characteristic namely:
- a strong passion and love for fellow human beings.
- Derived pleasure from helping others
- Willing to be paid lesser than the job you do
- A strong sense of discipline
- Average intelligence
In conclusion, I must confess that this is not an easy write-up for a medical doctor like myself, but it was written to help you so that you will avoid the mistake that other highly intelligent students have been forced to make.