How do we choose our doctors?

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One of our UK doctors shared concerns about the new trend with today’s teens diving into pre-med so early in life.  What do you think?  Should kids be kids, or is it better for them to start so young?

Recently in my workplace we have been inundated with work experience students using the summer period after their GCSE or AS exams to buff up their CVs prior to applying to medical school. I have been stunned at the commitment these kids have to show to a career in medicine at such a young age.

I’m not that old,  in my early thirties, but even when I applied to medical school a lot could be forgiven academically if you could kick a rugby ball or come across well in interview. In contrast, one of the sixteen year olds that spent time with us was expected to do six weeks work experience just to get onto the scheme her school ran to help her get in to study medicine. Once she gets onto the scheme she would be expected to maintain perfect grades, sit an aptitude exam and prep for interview. She wasn’t even sure that she wanted to be a doctor, she just wanted to keep her options open. At her school more than 10% of the kids are planning to be doctors.

I would consider myself a vocational doctor, I certainly can’t remember a time when I wanted to do anything else but I can’t help but think that my sixteen year old self would not have bothered to apply if it had meant six weeks playing bingo with old ladies in nursing homes or traipsing around behind a junior doctor during my summer holidays.How much of that experience is even relevent?

The drive by schools and parents to get children into university to study medicine for their own prestige seems to be creating droves of children heading lemming-like into a career of medicine without ever thinking what this actually means.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of doctors will be produced at the end of a treadmill that begins when they are fifteen or sixteen. Are they not going to be very homogenous with very limited life experiences?

If you’re a physician, please join us inside SERMO as we continue to discuss this and other topics.

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