Why Do You Want To Be A Doctor

Why Do You Want To Be A Doctor? How To Answer Common Med School Questions

“Why do you want to be a doctor?”  and “Why medicine?” are two of the trickiest questions to answer on medical school application essays and medical school interviews. In the bottom of our hearts, we want to help people, specifically individuals’ health. Really, we do. However, the reality is, “To help people” is a generic answer, and med school admissions committee members will be unimpressed. Other common answers we hear for both “Why Medicine” and “Why do you want to be a doctor” are: “I want to improve people’s health” and “I want to help the underserved.”  If this is the essence of your responses, improve your answers!
Why are these not good enough? The responses are too vague and too generic. Additionally, you can help people through a variety of professions, including a public health worker or teacher.  

Learn how to craft outstanding medical school essays and interview responses:

Since medicine is an extremely challenging profession, both from a lifestyle and responsibility perspective, many interviewers want to ensure that you have true motives and a clear understanding of what pursuing medicine will consist of. Interviewers are looking for you to take a step back and understand, what are some of the basic motivations that directed you to medicine?

A winning framework to responding to the “Why Medicine” and “Why do you want to be a doctor” questions consists of the following:

Step #1: Provide context and your initial interest in pursuing medicine
  • Questions to answer: Do you have any doctors in your family or amongst your role models? Did you have any early experiences with medicine that greatly affected you? Did you consider other careers before deciding on medicine?
  • Why this is important: Providing initial context helps your interviewer to understand some of your initial environment and how you may have arrived at the decision to pursue medicine.
Step #2: Highlight reasons for wanting to pursue medicine
  • Questions to answer: Are you passionate about health? Did you study science in school? If you did not study science, how will what you studied help you in becoming a great doctor? How did you cultivate your interests in healthcare and did you pursue any activities or research to do so?
  • Why this is important: By describing how your interests in healthcare have developed, your interviewer can gain a more nuanced understanding of your scientific curiosity and affinity. This is often the metric they use to determine if you will remain inquisitive, enterprising, and capable of absorbing and driving scientific knowledge forwards in medical school and beyond.
Step #3. Give examples of your experience and activities
  • Questions to answer: Are you passionate about health? Did you study science in school? If you did not study science, how will what you studied help you in becoming a great doctor? How did you cultivate your interests in healthcare and did you pursue any activities or research to do so?
  • Why this is important: When you are asked these open-ended, common medical school interview questions, you want to give evidence of how you have already tried to make an impact in medicine and healthcare.
Step #4: Describe your desire to use your passion to make a positive impact
  • Questions to answer: Have you engaged in service work to help others? How does it make you feel and why is it important to you? Why do you want to pursue a career based around service?
  • Why this is important: This section provides a basis for why you are interested in dedicating yourself to a career of serving others. It is also crucial to help you describe why medicine, in particular, is the kind of service that you are interested in doing and why you seek to be a physician and not serve others in a different capacity. Excellent answers will incorporate one’s scholarly endeavors and extracurricular activities. They will link their activities with their career goals.
Step #5: Describe any other reasons and what you hope to accomplish in medicine
  • Questions to answer: Are there any unique reasons that are not covered in the other steps for why you are interested in pursuing medicine? How do you plan to use your scientific curiosity and desire to help others as a physician?
  • Why this is important: By connecting your current passions with the future impact that you hope to produce, an interviewer begins to get a window into what kind of physician you hope to become and how you could greatly benefit from attending their medical school.

Why Medicine and Why Do I Want To Be a Doctor Sample Essay Response:


  • Initially, I was not that interested in medicine and instead was passionate about space exploration and aerospace engineering. Because of many personal circumstances, I became more drawn to medicine. First, when my grandfather fell ill with pneumonia, I felt helpless to help him when I visited the hospital all while the medical staff remained attentive to small changes in his condition. Seeing how they listened to our and his questions, tailored their treatment to his needs, and reassured us at every step of the way, encouraged me to consider what role I wanted to play in helping others in the future. Second, after a bad ankle fracture while playing soccer, my doctors were just as attentive and they empowered me to come back stronger and more improved than ever before, solidifying my desire to pursue medicine.

Scientific Background

  • In college, I was a Psychology major. I was able to learn more about cognition and human perception works and how they can be affected by the underlying biochemical processes happening in the brain and rest of the body. I was also able to explore my interest in neuroscience by working at the Department of Neurology, studying the cognition of split-brain patients and trying to understand novel therapeutic options. Studying this has encouraged me to continue this work during medical school and beyond as I hope to patients suffering from debilitating chronic conditions.

Helping others

  • Although participating in scientific research was fulfilling, after my clinical volunteering experiences I began to remember the impact that my and my grandfather’s experiences had on me. During my volunteering roles, I was able to help and connect to the individuals on a personal level that I had not been able to do earlier, which was a fundamental shift and showed me the true impact of helping others. Also, volunteering for my local women’s center helped me to understand their needs and how I could be an advocate for them and champion the needs of those who may not able to do so themselves.

Goals in Medicine

  • As a physician, I hope to continue my scientific problem solving and combine this with my humanistic work serving others, my teaching work, and my desire to advocate for those who have traditionally been underserved by medicine.

Why Medicine and Why Do You Want To Be a Doctor Sample Answer:

“Throughout my undergraduate years, I’ve been very interested in oncology. I’ve found it to be very rewarding to comfort patients when they receive a very scary diagnosis, and I enjoy helping describe various treatment options. At the Children’s Hospital, I volunteered at the Pediatrics Oncology Department. I helped develop a program where we spoke with parents’ families describing what to expect with chemotherapy. Additionally, I want to translate my patient experiences to the lab when I can develop new targeted cancer therapies.”

You can add a paragraph like this in your secondary essays. And, you can also use this as a sample response to the why do you want to be a doctor interview question.

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