As a doctor, I often get asked by relatives, friends, non-medical colleagues and other people he met on what needs to be done to get their child into medical school.
This post is not about how to get into medical school. I will talk about that in another blog post. This post is about whether your child should be embarking on a career in medicine if he is qualified for medical school.
Medicine and Law are always seen as prestigious professions which most parents hope their children would take up when they grow up. I am not qualified to discuss about law as a career but I am happy to share my opinion on medicine as I have been a doctor for more than 15 years, and still counting.
When a parent ask my opinion on whether his or her child should study medicine if the child qualifies for a medical school position, I would normally ask the parent and the child the following question:
1. Do you have the passion to help the unfortunate? When I mean help, its not just giving a $2 donation in the shopping mall for flag day. What I mean is whether the child is willing to sacrifice his or her social life, family life and personal life to work on weekends, nights and public holidays in the hospitals to help the unfortunate. Without this type of passion and commitment, they would be very miserable and disappointed during their early parts of working life due to the long hours of work.
Some of them thinks that maybe this type of “suffering” is only for short term, after a few years, when they finish their training, they would go out and start their own clinic and do not need to do these long hours any more. This is not true as many of us who are already in our mid career are still clocking long hours. I still work on some weekends and public holidays in the hospitals as these are the period where the hospitals are in need of doctors.
2. Are you able to afford the financial cost of the university fees? If you invest your child in his medical school education, you will realise that the return on your “investment” is pathetic, and often you actually suffer a financial loss if your child goes to medical school. The average cost of sending a child to study medicine outside Singapore (eg in UK, Australia or USA) is around half a million Singapore dollars today. These include university fees and lodging, food etc. for the child. If your child is lucky enough to enter one of the local university in Singapore, the cost will be lower, but still higher than other courses. If you have spend half a million dollars (which is enough to buy a small condominium) in your child’s education, not likely that you will be able to collect your “investment” back in the form of financial return due to the relatively low salary of junior doctors.
This post is not to discourage parents from persuading their child to take up medicine. This post is about providing a reality check to parents who do not understand the sacrifices required to be a doctor. If your child is passionate and genuinely loves to help the unfortunate and you can afford the education, then you should encourage your child to take up medicine.
Ah, one more thing, your child must not be scared of BLOOD ! That is another criteria which your child needs to fulfill before he takes up the place for medical school.