Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Views

What applicants should know about a career in medicine

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/sbmj.j739 (Published 15 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j739
  1. Patrice Baptiste, general practice specialty trainee year 1
  1. Romford, Essex, UK

Patrice Baptiste, who has mentored applicants to medical school, explains the realities of being a doctor

Having mentored applicants to medical school, it surprises me that the same misconceptions about a career in medicine crop up year after year. This article describes some of the things you should know before applying to study medicine.

You will spend more time managing patients with chronic conditions than curing them

Given our ageing population, many of the patients you care for will have long term health conditions. Examples include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, hypertension, asthma, depression, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.1 In England, more than 15 million people have a long term condition and the number of people with three or more long term conditions is predicted to rise from 1.9 million in 2008 to 2.9 million in 2018.1

Although doctors can offer drugs for symptomatic relief or to help slow down disease progression, there is often no cure for these conditions. Doctors and patients therefore have to share decisions about how to manage these conditions in the long term to make sure the patient …

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