So many students I meet want to be doctors because they want to help people. But there are many different ways that you can help people that don't involve being a doctor. Being a doctor doesn't pay very well, it's very stressful, and it has very long hours. There are loads of medically related degrees that you might not have considered.
Pharmacists are on the front line of medicine. If there's something wrong with you, and you can't get to a doctor, you can't get to hospital, you go and see a pharmacist. They analyse patients’ symptoms, they take patient's histories, a daily interaction with them. Checking their drugs, making sure what they're doing, what' they're taking is safe, making sure what they're being prescribed is suitable. A pharmacist is a brilliant career.
When someone collapses unexpectedly, the call goes out for "is there a doctor in the house?", but what you really should be asking for is a paramedic. Because the paramedics are the people that are savings lives every single day. There and then, the first person you call, when you call an ambulance, first person you see, is a paramedic. They save lives on a daily basis. In a situation, they can be much more useful than a doctor.
Biomedical sciences is a broad enough degree that if you decide you really do want to be a doctor at the end, then you can you can follow a post-graduate course in that. But biomedical science, biochemistry, biology, molecular biology degree, will let you follow a path into research, into drug discovery, into cancer research, into curing childhood illnesses. These are all still helping people, and if you get yourself a PhD, you can still call yourself a doctor.
Dentistry and ophthalmology have much better working hours, much better working conditions, and less people die on a daily basis. These are brilliant careers. And judging how much my dentist goes on holiday, pay really well.
Nursing or midwifery qualifications will give you a lot more daily interaction with people. When I have spent time in hospital with my son, I see the nurses about ten times as much as I see the doctors. The nurses are the people, the midwives are the people that you really get to know. They're the ones you pop in and say hello to if you happen to be passing past a ward. They're the ones that you give the presents to at the end. They're the ones who actually care for you on a daily basis.
Radiographers, audiologists, or physiotherapists and other specialists are highly, highly trained, and have such an important role in the medical field. They work within hospitals, they work within medical centres, and they're helping people. Either diagnosing what's wrong with them, and then passing the information on to the doctors, consulting with the doctors about what could be wrong. Very often a doctor won't be specialist enough to look at an X-ray or an ultrasound. They will pass it on to the radiologist, who will write a report and then send that back to the doctor. Physiotherapists help people on a daily basis, regaining their lives. They have such an important role.
Sometimes the idea that you had, ever since you were a child, of being a doctor, can get in the way of you seeing all of these other awesome medically related careers, that might be better suited to you, because let's be honest, being a doctor is really hard. Their hours are bad, their pay is not great, and people die. It's incredibly, incredibly stressful. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with deciding that maybe you don't want to have a life that is that stressful.