“Why do you want to be a doctor” is one of the most important and tricky questions you’ll face in an interview or on an application. It seems so simple, but it’s really the opposite!
So many students either wander into this question without a clue how they’re going to answer it, or armed with a poor answer.
But the best answers to this question take some time to develop. They require you to think about the entire arch of your medical journey to date, and where you want to end up.
This resource will help you explain why you want to be a doctor in a way that will impress and differentiate yourself from the competition.
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What Interviewers And Applications Are Looking For
Believe it or not, the question “why do you want to be a doctor?” holds a lot of weight during the application process. Sure, your MCAT score and GPA act as qualifiers to get your foot in the door.
But admissions panels want to see more than just good grades. They want to see passion!
This question is about much more than just making simple conversation or ease you into the process. It’s a way for schools to gauge your dedication to medicine.
Studying medicine is a huge life-long commitment. Seasoned physicians make it look easy, but being a licensed doctor is no walk in the park. It involves long hours, years of study, and a lot of time away from your family.
No matter how hard you work, you’re going to experience obstacles in your path. You’ll have those hard days where most people would simply toss in the towel. Doctors don’t have that luxury, so medical schools want to make sure that you’re properly motivated.
Schools and interviewers want to know why you want to be a doctor in order to learn more about who you are as a person and get a better understanding of what’s driving your endeavors in medicine.
If you have a good reason and solid motivation to study medicine, you’re more likely to stick with it despite all of the hurdles you’ll face.
Why Your Answer Is So Important
Many applicants make the mistake of glossing over this question to focus on other parts of the admissions process.
It’s an easy enough question to answer, right? There are so many advantages that come with being a doctor!
Unfortunately, that way of thinking can work against you.
How you answer this question can ultimately make or break your application. Schools are looking for dedicated students who will go on to do great things in the world of healthcare.
Interviewers don’t want to hear about all the perks of this profession. They know all of that already. What they want to hear is your own personal motivations for wanting to become a doctor.
This answer is an opportunity to separate yourself from thousands of other applicants vying for the same spot.
Show that you have personal drive and a good reason to study medicine. It could help push your application over the edge and get you accepted.
The Best Commonly Used Answers
There’s no single right answer for “why do you want to be a doctor”. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be so much of a challenge to figure out!
The truth is, everyone’s answer is going to be different. Every applicant has their own reason for pursuing medicine.
The trick is formulating your thoughts into a cohesive answer that schools want to hear. Here are some of the best types of answers to use.
Chances are, there was something that initially triggered your interest in medicine. Talk about it! But don’t use cliche stories that could easily be disproven (something many students try).
If you’re going to create that personal connection with physicians from your past, talk about what made them so special. How did they spark your interest and why were they so important to you?
However, don’t spend your entire answer talking about these personal events.
Interviewers hear this kind of thing all of the time, so keep it brief. That said, a personal story can help give interviewers some more insight into why you’re sitting in front of them.
Show How You Came To The Decision
Next, you could talk about the events that solidified your decision. This could be an experience you had with an employer or some other exposure to the world of healthcare. Maybe you learned more about medicine at school and that helped to cement the idea.
Whatever the case may be, let your interviewer know about it.
You could have many things that helped you decide that medicine was the path for you. Talk about those points and give concrete reasons for why that initial interest in medicine sparked into something more serious.
Talk About Challenges Of Medicine
When you answer this question, take the opportunity to acknowledge that you understand the challenges of being a doctor. Interviewers are looking for strong students who are prepared for what lies ahead.
You can talk about how your personal motivations make the difficulties worth it. This makes your answer more authentic and shows that you’re serious about your future career.
Touch On Your Abilities
You don’t want to focus too much on your abilities and experience. Schools and interviewers already have your resume. There’s no need to recite your credentials.
However, you can briefly touch on your abilities and how that has shaped your decisions. For example, you might excel at problem-solving. This could have made you realize that studying medicine was a feasible option that you could pursue.
Use this time to highlight your strengths. Make sure that they tie into your reasoning for wanting to become a doctor. It’ll help you stand out while also connecting the dots of why you chose medicine.
Focus On Patients
Finally, you can use a patient-focused answer. This is the common, “I just want to help people in a meaningful way,” answer.
The biggest mistake you can make when answering this question is providing self-centered responses.
Medicine is supposed to be selfless. It’s about providing a service that benefits the greater good.
Talk about why you want to help patients. Go beyond the standard answer that everyone provides. Interviewers hear that response all of the time.
Think about your motivations and add a personal twist. Why do you want to help patients? Why do you want to help patients as a doctor rather than other professions?
Spend Time To Come Up With Your Own Answer
You can use the examples above as inspiration. They can help guide you to the right answer.
However, you should always figure things out for yourself!
The last thing you want is to sound generic or cliche. Remember, thousands of students apply to medical school every year. Interviewers have probably heard every cliche answer you can think of.
The goal is to stand out and make your answer unique.
Take some time to truly think about why becoming a doctor is important to you. Understand why medicine is important to you and what drives you to succeed in this challenging profession.
Then, do mock interviews with peers and friends if possible. Think about every angle and every response.
Interviewers can easily throw you a curveball. If you have a good understanding of your personal motivations, you should have no problem responding to questions the interviewer might throw your way.
Answers To Avoid
Speaking of cliches, there are several answers you want to avoid. The following answers are overused and won’t help you stand out.
In most cases, interviewers have secondary questions that could challenge your answer and throw you for a loop as well.
These answers could also paint you in a bad light, which will only hurt your chances of admission. To avoid stumbling on your interview, here are some terrible answers you should rethink.
Money, Power, or Respect
These are all selfish reasons for becoming a doctor. It’s true physicians usually have financial stability and respect.
But, there are so many other ways to get that. Why choose medicine?
Again, healthcare is supposed to be selfless. Going into this challenging career just because of the money and respect are big red flags.
Your Parents Are Doctors
Having exposure to medicine at an early age because your parents are doctors is great! But, it’s not a compelling reason for why you want to be a doctor yourself.
You have to want to become a doctor on your own volition, not because you’re trying to earn the approval of your family.
It’s A Rewarding Career
Being a doctor can be very rewarding. However, there will be a ton of bad days too.
If your only reason for wanting to become a doctor is because it’s “rewarding,” it makes it look like you don’t know about the difficulties to come.
Self Worth Or Looking To Make A Name For Yourself
Again, there are several other career options for those looking to make a name for themselves. You should never use medicine to build your personal brand or improve your self-worth.
You Want To Help People
Earlier, we said that patient-focused answers were best. That remains true, but you should go beyond the basic “I want to help people, ” answer.
If your sole motivation was to help people, why not go into nursing or social work?
You must give a specific answer that’s personal. Tell the interviewer why being a doctor is the only way to help people how you want.
You Like The Challenge
This answer is another cliche that simply doesn’t work. If you’re after mental stimulation, there are many other careers that you can try.
Medicine is definitely not the only field with problem-solving or a heavy focus on science.
A Career Change
If you’re switching careers to become a doctor, you should figure out why. Stating that your current career is awful isn’t going to cut it.
Your motivation needs to come from a positive place rather than a drive to replace a deficit.
Time To Start Preparing!
Now that you know what the best answers are (and what ones you should avoid), it’s time for you to start preparing your own personalized response.
The question “why do you want to be a doctor” should be looked at as an opportunity to separate yourself from the pack. Take it seriously!
If you’re looking to bulletproof your application or just need another pair of eyes, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ve helped hundreds of students get accepted into medical school and can do the same for you!