Is Medicine / dentistry right for you? Medicine and dentistry are highly rewarding career paths. With potentially high salaries, job security and the personal satisfaction of helping and healing people, many people think about a career in medicine. However, with stringent entrance criteria to medical school, years of study and training, and a career that involves high levels of emotional stress, responsibility and long working hours, a career in medicine or dentistry is not suitable for everybody. Both dentistry and medicine require dedication, commitment and passion, and it is essential any would-be medical or dentistry student assess that the career is a suitable one for them before embarking on the long path towards qualification
Perhaps the most important trait for any would-be doctor or dentist is the ability to empathise and understand people. Good communication skills are essential for any dentist or doctor, most importantly, the ability to listen to people and understand their concerns and requirements. Being sympathetic and having what is often called a “good bedside manner” is all about listening and placing yourself in somebody else’s position. Doctors often have to give bad news to patients and relatives so being understanding and compassionate is crucial. A doctor or dentist needs also strength of character to cope with difficult situations, especially for doctors who may face losing patients, have to tell somebody they are not going to recover, or are required to break the news of bereavement to relatives. Because of the nature of the work, being able to cope with seeing severe injuries, and having to handle blood, tissue and bodily fluids without feeling feint, is also important for anybody wanting a career in medicine or dentistry. Doctors often witness quite traumatic injuries and dentists are often required to conduct procedures on people that involves blood.
Because of the responsibilities doctors, and dentists, are entrusted with, a person able to cope with pressure and act solely for the benefit of somebody else is also essential. Medicine is often a self-less career, where the needs of a patient supersede personal issues. Anybody wanting to be a dentist or doctor should be able to disassociate themselves with personal problems and concentrate on the job in hand. Dentists and doctors also have to treat all members of society equally, so being tolerant of different cultures, races, sexualities and positions of society and holding no prejudices is important. Treating everybody equal, regardless of who they are is part of the Hippocratic Oath taken by all doctors and dentists.
Any future doctor or dentist should already show an interest in medicine, and be able to demonstrate a passion for the subject. Most successful candidates to medical school have took part in work experience or shown a passion for healthcare and medicine in either voluntary work, part-time employment or charity work. An understanding of what a career in medicine may entail, from the long hours and responsibilities, to coping with the stresses of dealing with difficult situations, is also important for anybody thinking of a career in medicine or dentistry.